14/04/2024

Sydney Bears forward Tommy Steven celebrates scoring against the Melbourne Mustangs - his 12th of the season - in a 3-1 victory. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic; Design: Will Cuckson)

There were five games to look at for this week’s five things as the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) season continued to roll on with more action and talking points.

A match up that continues to deliver on the must watch calendar, one club stakes their claim as a true contender, and the reigning champions are slowly making their move.

All that and more in The Inner Sanctums five things this week.

Brisbane Lightning forward Sascha Rapchuk and Perth Thunder goaltender Dillon Dewar have a chat post game after a shootout thriller. (Photo: Cassandra Edwards)

It never fails to disappoint

It was another tightly contested match up between the Brisbane Lightning and Perth Thunder that had high scoring, late drama, and the niggle we have come to expect when these two teams lock horns.

Both teams couldn’t be separated after regulation, when Harley Anderson redirected an Max Roth slapshot with 49 seconds remaining to draw level – which drew a response from the Thunder bench as Roth didn’t hold back on the celebrations. The game then couldn’t be decided in overtime, which saw the game head into the shootout where Steve Harris would come up with the game winning save to give the Lightning a 7-6 victory.

Two teams evenly matched and the spice we see each time they play is what hockey is all about, it’s just a shame it’s the final regular season contest between the two clubs.

Sydney Bears goaltender Anthony Kimlin shuts the door against both Melbourne teams completing a weekend sweep. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic)

Bears are the real deal

Anyone who had questions about whether the Sydney Bears were the team to beat so far this season had all those answered as they travelled down to Melbourne and swept the weekend against the Ice and Mustangs.

Missing Ryan Annesley, Brian Funes and Michael Schlamp the Bears only sent 15 skaters down for the weekend double header. However, they showed why they are a legitimate Goodall Cup challenger giving up only four goals across the two games beating the Ice 7-3 and Mustangs 3-1 to stake their claim as the seasons early top dogs.

The Bears now get set for another massive match up against the reigning champions CBR Brave.

Theme nights all for a good cause

The Sydney Ice Dogs held a special themed Defence Night when they hosted the Brave at Macquarie Ice Rink during week six of the AIHL season, which included free entry for ADF personnel and jerseys that would be auctioned off.

It is just one of several themed nights clubs run throughout the season in the AIHL and I tip the hat to the Ice Dogs for holding a night like this in honour of the ADF, showing a mark of respect to service men and women past or present.

Not only was it lauded as a terrific night, but the special themed jerseys also looked fantastic.

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One game just isn’t enough

Only sixty minutes of hockey on Sunday just wasn’t enough for this crazed hockey fan who hangs out for AIHL action through these cold and miserable months of the year.

When I checked the schedule leading into week six of the AIHL having the Sydney Bears v Melbourne Mustangs as the only game on just didn’t sit right, and when you look towards the scheduling for week seven of competition it raises even more questions.

Adelaide Adrenaline didn’t play during week six, while this weekend the Melbourne Ice will play a Friday night derby, fly to Adelaide to face the Adrenaline on Saturday, and then make their way back for a Sunday match up on home ice against the Perth Thunder. Which makes you wonder why the Ice and Adrenaline couldn’t have played on Sunday during week six?

We all know ice time is a premium in Australia but there must be an easier way to make this work.

CBR Brave plays with a pre game huddle prior to a recent away clash against the Central Coast Rhinos. (Photo: Jess Fuller)

Brave eyeing off top spot

So far this season the CBR Brave have continued to motor on like they have done for many years, picking up win after win while still getting players back, fit, or arriving from overseas. A tough and tight 4-1 win over the Ice Dogs puts them two points behind the Rurak Conference leading Lightning, with the Brave having two games in hand.

As highlighted in week five the Brave have a strong goaltending tandem with Aleksi Toivonen and Alex Tetreault, while Canadian import Christopher Stoikos leads the forwards in scoring with 11 points (four goals, seven assists), and former club captain Matt Harvey continues to produce with nine points (five goals, four assists).

The two-time Goodall Cup champions are on a three-game win streak and are going about their business with no fuss.

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