Harley Anderson (above, 29) celebrates his first career AIHL goal. Photo by Frank Kutsche.
The Adelaide Adrenaline have made it back-to-back wins with a gritty 4-2 win over the Sydney Ice Dogs, turning the game on its head after conceding the opening goal just 23 seconds in.
Goals from Steve Best, Harley Anderson, Caleb Apperson and Alex Adams ensured the home fans left happy, while Ales Kratoska led all with three points. Sebastian Andersson stood on his net again making 42 saves in the three point night for the club.
Adams, who scored an airmail empty net goal to seal it, proved he will be a key player having arrived in Adelaide just hours before the game, showing no signs of jetlag.
“I flew out of Toronto to Vancouver to Brisbane and I got off the plane here at 12.30pm today after getting on Thursday so I think it was 25 hours and I’m feeling pretty tired.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was going to play but it was good to get a team win and the fans were awesome.”
His best chance of the opening period came towards the final buzzer, with a great run called offside.
After conceding a goal 41 seconds into last Sunday’s win over the Mustangs, the early deficit again proved to be no obstacle with a resilient Adrenaline playing a fast, attack minded game.
Lee Turner had the honours of scoring the first goal in Adelaide for 2018 after his teammate Grant Toulmin harassed possession from Apperson in defence, but the familiar faces in Kratoska and Sydney’s Geordie Wudrick were the ones to watch.
The second period belonged to the Adrenaline with the Ice Dogs taking the back seat - or more so forced to - by a goal-hungry team that outshot Sydney 24-12 during that time.
Steve Best was at his best, tying the game up with nine minutes on the clock, scoring in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
With Kratoska and Harley Anderson piling on the pressure down the left wing, Kratoska weaved his way through the Ice Dogs to find Best in space in front of goal. Needing to just beat Mizen, he tucked the puck away into the bottom corner.
Best nearly had his second goal after coming out of the penalty box to scoop up a loose clearance. Showing off his wheels he sped into clear ice but he couldn’t open up an angle against Mizen.
Ales Kratoska was relentless all night picking up three points and his sixth in his last two games. Photos from Frank Kutsche.
For Adams, who hasn’t trained with the team, his arrival was seamless and the team welcoming.
“It’s always nice when you come to a new team and the guys are outgoing and make you feel welcome. I wanted to play for them today because they made me so welcome,” he said.
“It’s a good young team and in a league like this when you have young legs you can steal wins and this was an example as they outskated Sydney in a good team win.”
Playing some patient hockey in the third, Anderson pounced to make it 2-1 via a rebound after Apperson initially launched his own shot. The build up saw Adelaide move the puck cleanly across the ice until they found the perfect opening.
Both sides lost a player to the penalty at 13.52 as Kratoska and Daniel Pataky were off for roughing, before a frantic few minutes saw more players crowd the box for their respective sides.
At one point Adelaide had three in the box with Remy McGuiness gone for slashing and Apperson hooking.
It was a fiery game when Andersson denied Wudrick twice in quick succession before the moment swung back to Sydney as Anderson was penalised for goaltender interference with 3.03 remaining, and the Ice Dogs equalised through Wudrick on a 6-on-4 play.
With two Ice Dogs shielding the play, Andersson had no chance to stop a shot he never saw coming.
It wasn’t a level game for long, though, Apperson finally breaking down Mizen’s wall to make it 3-2 from close range with Kratoska and Best again involved with the build up.
It was sweet relief for Apperson who had about eight shots on net in the game, including a breakaway. He celebrated in style by leaping towards the Adrenaline crowd on the small ice.
“It was a mixture of celebration and frustration,” said Apperson of the goal after the game. “We played really well tonight and it was a lot of fun to score in front of the home fans.”
When the Ice Dogs pulled their goalie for the second time with 1.21 on the clock, Adams launched a hail mary from deep in defence to build a two goal buffer as the puck skimmed into the open net.
That goal killed off the game, with Adelaide making a big statement early in the season and Adams getting his first taste of some competitive ice hockey down under.
“I was really impressed; a lot of the guys are a lot more skilled than I expected because it’s not really a hockey country. Where I come from it’s a hockey country,” Adams said.
“I wish it was a little easier on my first day actually.”
The Adrenaline return to the ice for the rematch with the Ice Dogs Sunday at 4:30PM. Get your tickets at www.adelaideadrenaline.com