It was a night for remembrance, for fundraising, and for honouring the late Matt Clark as the Sydney Ice Dogs hosted the league leading Newcastle Northstars at Macquarie Ice Rink.
Matt Clark was a former player who played for the Warringah Bombers and the National Youth Team before passing away at the age of 17 due to leukaemia.
The Bombers held memorial games from 1995 to 2001 and compete for the Shield in those games.
The Sydney Ice Dogs brought back the Matt Clark Shield in 2016, and it is an annual match on the AIHL calendar, with all proceeds from the game going to leukaemia research.
Speaking to The Inner Sanctum after the game, Ice Dogs captain Daniel Pataky talked about playing for the Matt Clark Shield.
“It’s probably my favourite game of the season. It’s always good to see some familiar faces.
“It means a lot to a few of the boys in certain different ways. It’s really good. It’s a really nice game to play.”
Despite a significant difference in position between the two sides on the ladder, it was a very closely contested first period.
Some fantastic work in the net by Charles Smart would keep the Ice Dogs scoreless in the first despite two power-play opportunities, while Jakob Doornbos would see one sail past him. A defensive zone turnover saw Richard Tesarik pick up the puck directly in front of the net to give the Northstars a 1-0 lead to end the first.
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The second period started with a flurry of saves from Doornbos as the Northstars looked to pile on the pressure and increase the lead.
That lead would not last long though, as the Ice Dogs would equalise just over a minute into the second period through Aleksandr Dvinianinov. It brought some new energy to the Ice Dogs who were looking for just their third win of the season.
The action would continue to heat up towards the middle of the period with both sides getting some good looks at goal, but Doornbos and Smart would both come up strong.
The deadlock would be broken with 2:07 to go in the second as the Ice Dogs would take the lead through Strat Allen, putting the Northstars behind for the first time in the match.
The Ice Dogs would take another penalty almost immediately after scoring, and would extend the lead to two, with Dvinianinov scoring a short handed goal for his second.
The Northstars would capitalise on the power play however, reducing the lead back to one, as Tesarik would put one past Doornbas for his second goal of the night just before the end of the second period.
Two goals in the space of 18 seconds early in the third would see the Northstars retake the lead, and go to the power-play, putting a ton of pressure on the home side after a strong second period.
While the player advantage wouldn’t draw success for the visitors, Dash Quartarolo would score his first official AIHL goal not long after the penalty expired for a two-goal lead, putting Newcastle in the driver’s seat for the remainder of the third period.
The Ice Dogs would call a timeout with 3:31 to try and put together a strategy to erase the two goal deficit, and Doornbos would head to the bench for the extra attacker with the Ice Dogs having an offensive zone face-off.
Despite the extra skater and a ton of pressure, the Ice Dogs would be unable to put one past Smart, and the visitors would capitalise. Tesarik put one into the empty net for his hat-trick to seal a 6-3 victory as Newcastle extended its record to 11-1, with a point gap at the top of the table.
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