Saturday, July 7, 2012 - Submitted by Ellie-Marie Watts
The inaugural Trans-Tasman Champions League tournament opened with two very different games on Saturday, July 7.
First up were the Melbourne Ice and Southern Stampede.
The Stampede seemed to have no answer what-so-ever to Melbourne’s game on Saturday afternoon, unable to keep up with the AIHL’s top team, and being demolishing 12-2.
The Ice made easy work of the Stampede, ending the first period 5-0 with goals from Marcus Wong, Martin Kutek, Joey Hughes, Matt Armstrong and Doug Wilson.
Jason Baclig took the Ice to 6-0 three minutes into the second period before the Stampede’s Brett Speirs managed to get a goal past Stu Denman.
The Australian/New Zealand rivalry that is always expected between the competitive countries reared its head with a minor all-in tussle resulting in a six minute penalty on the Stampede’s Michael Weber.
While on the power play, the Ice extended their lead 7-1 following a beautifully set up goal from Baclig to Hughes to Greg Sturrock, who in the spilt second it took for Stampede goalie Aston Brookes to realise Hughes wasn’t shooting it, had it past Brookes’ pads and the post into the net.
One more goal from Hughes to finish the second period saw the Ice leading 8-1, but they did not slow down for the third, hitting hard and maintaining their intensity to deliver four more goals.
Following a massive mid-ice hit from Wilson on Connor Harrison who went flying, crowd favourite Tommy Powell took Melbourne to 9-1.
Hughes, taking the game into double digits, was followed by Armstrong to make the game a convincing 11-1 with 2.36 remaining.
But the Stampede were not done and with 55 seconds to go, captain Simon Glass made it 11-2.
Four seconds remaining, one more Ice goal and the end of the first game finished 12-2.
Hughes and Stampede defenseman Joel Cleroux took out men of the match for their teams.