With the AIHL season providing a four game mini-series between the Perth Thunder and CBR Brave, the Thunder took game one with a 4-2 win at Perth Ice Arena on Saturday.
The Thunder, dressed pretty in pink as part of their Pink the Rink campaign, raising funds for the McGrath Foundation, put together a comfortable win after a hot start scoring three goals in the opening 10 minutes, thanks to Ben Breault, Kieren Webster and Jessyko Bernard.
The Perth Thunder host an annual Pink the Rink campaign including a Pink Jersey Game to raise funds for the McGrath Foundation's. Photo: Richard Sak.
An early shake down by the home team resulted in three goals in ten minutes (Breault, Webster and Bernard). Photo: Richard Sak.
With the Canberra team already on the back foot, the Brave were played catch up for the remainder of the game as they hunted for the offense needed keep them in contention. Brave Coach Rob Stark felt his team continued to battle back for the whole game despite being down early.
“We got off to a challenging start obviously, giving up a couple quick goals, but I think to their credit the boys all battled back in the second half and tried to make a game of it,” said Stark after the loss.
“We’re also missing some of our offensive power this weekend, so we knew goals wouldn’t come as easily, but we are set to play this team for the next three games and this is only one of them, so tomorrow we will be looking to get off to a good start and try to split the weekend.”
With a healthy lead in hand the home team was able to continue their dominant performance into the second period where they were managed to capitalise again: this time Christian Ouellet bumped the score to 4-0 with under two minutes remaining in the second.
Although the home crowd was enjoying the Perth squad’s performance, the final frame saw the Brave on the offense early. Clearly focused on bringing the offensive spark they’re known for, it wasn’t long before Tyler Kubara had beaten Di Salvo and added a much-needed goal to the board. Brother Casey shortly followed suit, adding another just 20 seconds later to take the team 4-2 with 16 minutes still on the clock.
The Brave's Casey Kubara beats Di Salvo to taking the visitors to 4-2 and changing the dynamic of the game. Photo: Richard Sak.
Their lead now cut in half, the Thunder now needed to put a halt to the flow of momentum, which was quickly turning towards the Brave.
Thunder Captain Jamie Woodman addressed his team’s lapse of concentration in the third period after the game.
“It’s easy to let your foot off the gas when you have been winning for the entire game, but today it nearly came back to bite us,” he said.
“It also gave us a feel of what we can expect from them in the next couple games, as long as we can continue to play with the right mindset. Sometimes it’s easy to get a little goal hungry when you give up a couple quick ones but today at least we did well to seal up the gaps after we let one slide.”
The Thunder were finally able to lock down center ice, forcing the Brave to use long, stretching passes behind the defence – but still not immobilised. With the Brave pushing, Perth’s Di Salvo had to come up big in net on several occasions with his side outshot 17 to 8 in the final 20 minutes.
The game concluded in Thunder’s favour and three points – moving Perth into second spot on the AIHL ladder – passing the Brave on the way. Having completed two more games than the Brave, however, Perth will be focused on taking the four-game mini series in order to stay ahead in points.