The CBR Brave have completed a home and home series sweep of the Sydney Ice Dogs, claiming a 4-2 victory over the fiery Ice Dogs at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre on Sunday night.
It was another battle of the goaltenders as Damien Ketlo and Aleksi Toivonen kept their respective teams in the game by making several highlight-reel saves throughout the game, and Ice Dogs alternate captain Tomas Manco praised the efforts of both sides.
“I thought the game was really fast paced,” Manco said. “It was exciting for the fans and I think both teams showed a lot of heart.”
The Ice Dogs were hit hard by injuries, and Manco explained the impact that had on the team.
“We have a few key injuries to our forwards, and it shows in our play that we need that depth from them,” Manco said. “As soon as they come back, I think we’ll be fine.”
CBR Brave Head Coach Rob Starke heaped praise on both sides as well as the tenacity showed by the Brave.
“I think it was two good teams playing really good hockey, it went down to the wire,” Starke said. “We got the benefit of getting that third goal from Jan Safar and found a way to gut it out at home.”
The Ice Dogs took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission after they were able to convert on the power play through Grant Toulmin, and the Brave looked to reply but were unable to capitalise on their chances.
The second period saw the Brave equalise through Stephen Blunden, catching Ketlo moving post to post and deflecting a Matt Harvey shot just over the Ice Dog goalie’s pads, and the two teams were deadlocked at 1-1l heading into the second intermission.
The third period saw both teams turn the intensity up, but it was the Brave who would strike first after Dominic Jalbert took possession with Ketlo wildly scrambling in his crease, and fired home from close range to give the home side a 2-1 lead with little over 15 minutes to play.
The Sydney Ice Dogs showed plenty of bite, as the penalty count for both sides racked up, culminating in the ejections of Brave defender Jalbert and Ice Dogs forward David Dunwoodie.
Not long after, Brave defender Jimmy Byers blew an edge in his own zone that was quickly pounced upon by Scott Stephenson, and Stephenson roofed the puck over Toivonen’s shoulder to bring the game back to 2-2 with just over 6 minutes left in the game.
Jan Safar looked to wrap around the back of Ketlo’s net, with just under 2 minutes on the clock, but caught Ketlo cheating to the far post and instead tucked the puck between the post and Ketlo’s trailing skate with absolute precision to give the Brave a 3-2 lead, before an empty net goal from Stephen Blunden saw the Brave wrap up a solid weekend against the Ice Dogs and jump the Melbourne Ice into 1st place on the AIHL ladder.
The CBR Brave head into the All-Star weekend sitting at the top of the table after a solid six-point weekend, while the Ice Dogs are biting at the heels of the top 4, just a single point off the pace.