20/05/2024

Sydney Bears players lineup pre game in their blockbuster game against the CBR Brave. (Photo: Paul Furness; Design: Will Cuckson)

It wouldn’t be the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) without some on ice and off ice talking points and that is exactly what week seven delivered.

We had the most anticipated matchup of the season in the nation’s capital, a fresh import already turning heads after three games, missing luggage on a flight from Brisbane, and hattricks all round for one Melbourne team.

The Inner Sanctum is back for another week of five things.

Sydney Bears players huddle up before puck drop against the CBR Brave. (Photo: Paul Furness)

Absolute barn burner

In a game that was described as a ‘barn burner’ by some AIHL fans, it was the matchup everyone had been waiting for, reigning Goodall Cup champions CBR Brave going up against the red-hot Sydney Bears.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the final period, two big third period goals from Tommy Steven and Tomas Landa secured the victory for the Bears and cemented the Sydney outfit as the league’s top team after seven weeks of competition.

With a strong travelling support, it was the Bears who would take the win 3-2, sweeping the season series against their rivals, leaving the fortress that is Phillip Ice Skating Centre with a victory.

Perth Thunder import Andrew Bellant celebrates with the bench after scoring against the Melbourne Mustangs. (Photo: Phil Taylor Photographic)

The kid from Michigan

It’s only been three games since Andrew Bellant arrived in Australia as a newly signed import for the Perth Thunder, but the 25-year-old American forward has wasted no time getting to work.

A week seven trip to Melbourne would see Bellant put up eight points (six goals, two assists) across back-to-back games against the Mustangs and Ice. It takes the Michigan native’s points total to 11 after just three games played in the AIHL, a white-hot start for the Thunder forward who looks to be a threat anytime the puck is on his stick.

Thunder fans will get their first look at Bellant when they host the Central Coast Rhinos in week eight of the season.

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A trio of hattricks

There hasn’t been a lot for Melbourne Ice fans to get excited about so far in the AIHL this season, with only three wins from their first 11 games.

During their recent trip to Adelaide to face the Adrenaline, we got a glimpse of what the Ice offence is capable of with a convincing 11-3 win and three players grabbing hattricks on the night. Captain Mackenzie Caruana, Josh Walt, and new dual citizen signing Chris Schutz all scored three goals to help get the Ice an important win.

If the Ice can continue to get production from their big-name signings, they will start to turn the corner in the back end of the season.

Scary moment for Ice import

An incident that could have ended much worse for Ice import Artem Klein caught the eye of ice hockey fans around the country.

In what seemed to be an innocuous play where Klein was clearing the puck along the far side, he was checked by an Adelaide player going crashing into the plexiglass surrounding the rink. However, as Klein hit the plexiglass it came away from a metal upright between the netting and glass jamming Klein’s head in between.

Thankfully, Klein was ok and continued the match and played the following day against the Thunder.

Newcastle Northstars player Tanner Butler celebrates scoring one of his two goals against the Brisbane Lightning. (Photo: Jess Fuller)

Luggage is now boarding

It was the game that never was as the Brisbane Lightning arrived in Newcastle for their Saturday game against the Northstars but were left scratching their heads as club gear failed to follow the team on the trip.

With Saturday’s game postponed, it would mean only one game across the weekend at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, with the Sunday game not failing to disappoint as both teams put on a show in front of a healthy Northstars crowd.

Goals, penalties, hits, and plenty of push and shove greeted hockey viewers in a terrific advertisement for the AIHL as the Northstars got the edge over the Lightning in an 8-5 victory.

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