27/02/2024

Perth Thunder have made their move in the AIHL after two big wins against the Sydney Bears. (Photo: Ashley Hayes; Design: Will Cuckson)

Another week of Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) action and it’s jammed pack with amazing moments across an eight-game weekend.

A former Goodall Cup finalist makes a statement, reigning champions take back their mantle, young star shuts the door, and Melbourne has a new ice man.

The Inner Sanctum is back with five things.

Felix Plouffe (left) and Austin Albrecht (right) have been the offensive driving for to the CBR Brave. (Photo: David Tate)

The champs are here

Sitting on top of the AIHL standings off the back of a five-game winning streak, the CBR Brave are starting to build some real momentum.

Back-to-back wins across week 10 of the season against the Newcastle Northstars and Melbourne Ice moves the reigning Goodall Cup champions six points clear at the top of the Rurak Conference, and number one in the league with 33 points.

Felix Plouffe kept his strong season going with an eight-point (five goals, three assists) weekend, along with Austin Albreacht – 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) for the season, the Brave are starting to click on all lines.

Steady improvement for the Adelaide Adrenaline getting their first home win since 2008. (Photo: Frank Kutsche)

Home sweet home

We had written about Matus Trnka during week four here at The Inner Sanctum and on Saturday the young Australian goaltender was able to get a shutout – saving 30 shots on goal, helping the Adelaide Adrenaline to their first home win since July 2018.

A split weekend for the Adrenaline against the Brisbane Lightning – losing their Sunday matchup 7-4, the improvement is continuing for the Adelaide outfit who are trying find some consistent hockey.

Adrenaline now move to 10 points on the Rurak standings, as they try and chase down the Lightning who still hold that third position.

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The best from the West

One of the biggest movers in the AIHL has been the Perth Thunder, who in the space of two weeks have beaten the Sydney Bears twice and stamped their mark on the Hellyer Conference.

It was a weekend sweep in Sydney for the Thunder beating the Ice Dogs and Bears, while being without star Canadian import Andrew Bellant.

However, led by player coach Ben Breault five points (three goals, two assists) and veteran Rob Haselhurst five points (one goal, four assists) the Thunder secured back-to-back wins.

What was a season defining two weeks for the Thunder, are they the best team in the Hellyer Conference?

Chris Schutz has been an offensive force since arriving at the Melbourne Ice. (Photo: Matt Hartigan)

Melbourne get their Ice man

It wouldn’t be an AIHL weekend without the Melbourne Ice putting up big scoring numbers, a 14-8 win against the Central Coast Rhinos with Chris Schutz massive ten-point (four goals, six assists) game greeted week 10.

The offence for the Ice has skyrocketed in recent weeks and Schutz has been a driving force, on a seven-game point streak, Schutz can snipe them from anywhere on the ice.

Schutz sits second on the scoring leaders table with 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) from just eight games played, a remarkable points per game production since arriving in Australia.

Furthermore, for the Ice to have a real tilt at AIHL finals offence production from Schutz will be vital.

Perth Thunder import Kristian Stead has been a brick wall between the pipes since arriving in the AIHL. (Photo: Bart Mills)

Thunder get steady influence

Suiting up for the entire month of June, Kristian Stead has been electric since arriving at the Perth Thunder.

The Canadian import goaltender has won four of five starts in Thunder colours, which includes two massive wins against the conference leading Sydney Bears – giving up only six goals across the two games.

Stead has been a strong addition to the Thunder roster since arriving from the Knoxville Ice Bears in the SPHL – with a .912 save percentage along with a goals against average of 3.00.

Sharing duties with Rhys Pelliccione the Thunder look to have found a great one two punch.

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