The CBR Brave claimed a third-straight win to start the 2016 season, defeating the Melbourne Mustangs 4-2 at the O’Brien Group Arena.
Brave Head Coach Josh Unice was pleased with his team’s performance but acknowledged the challenges of changing rink sizes constantly.
“I thought we came out in the first period pretty well,” Unice said. “It's tough when you're constantly going from a small rink to a bigger rink.”
Brave Alternate Captain Kai Miettinen started off the scoring for the Brave seven minutes into the first period, assisted by defenceman Artem Bidlevskii, tallying the only goal for the period.
It was in the second period that the game ramped up with the Mustangs pushing hard as they looked to tally the teams’ first goal of the season, keeping the pressure on the Brave.
Mustangs Coach Michael Flaherty was impressed by his team’s performance.
“Second period was fantastic,” Flaherty said. “We did what we wanted to do, and for most of the game we were doing it. It's just the case of the little things; you need to keep focusing on the little things.”
The Mustangs worked hard to control the zone, keeping heavy pressure on the Brave, a defensive performance that didn’t escape Unice’s notice.
“I thought we had a big let-down in the second period, but at the same time, we did a lot of bending, but we didn't break in the d-zone, which is really good to see,” Unice said.
After withstanding the offensive pressure, the Brave flipped the pressure at the midway point of the period, doubling their lead with just over three minutes left in the period through Canadian import Neal Prokop.
The answer was immediate with Mustangs Captain Pat O’Kane opening the Mustangs’ account for the season just 24 second later, sending the teams to the final break at 2-1.
The intensity continued in the third period as the Brave’s Geordie Wudrick scored an early goal that was immediately negated by Mustangs import James Isaacs on the power play.
In a tough final period, the Mustangs were unable to get the game-tying goal, pulling goalie Chris Slauenwhite with just over a minute to go.
“You're down by a goal, you call time out; I spoke to the boys about which guys are going out onto the ice, but unfortunately we weren't able to hold onto the puck,” Flaherty said. “We have lapses, and every time we seem to have a lapse it seems to hurt us on the scoreboard.”
The Brave took advantage, with Wudrick claiming the empty-netter to seal the 4-2 win on the road.
Next week, the Mustangs head to Perth to take on the Thunder in a double header, while the Brave host the Bears on Saturday before heading to Newcastle to take on the North Stars.