All eyes were on the third Sydney Battle on Saturday night as the Bears hosted cross town rivals, the Ice Dogs. The Bears would come out on top, registering their first win for the season over the Ice Dogs in a hotly contested match, which could have a huge impact on the season's final standings.
The Ice Dogs started the game strong with an early power play but failed to capitalise. The Bears didn’t have the same issue, defenseman Ryan Annesley scoring a power play goal with a rocket from the blue line with just over four minutes remaining in the first.
Bears Forward Xander Wardlaw scored his first AIHL career goal minutes later, extending the Bears' lead 2-0, heading into the first intermission. A line brawl erupted between the benches and the referee md the decision to call the period break early, with the teams heading to their locker rooms with 2 minutes still on the game clock.
#14 for the Sydney Bears, Xander Wardlaw scored his first AIHL goal. Photo credit Peter Podlaha.
The teams started the second period with an extra 2 minutes on the clock, fowrad Todd Stephenson put the Ice Dogs on the board with a power play goal at the mid-way point of the period.
Both sides exchnged a number of quality chances, Ice Dogs goaltender, Damien Ketlo, robbed Brian Funes on a breakaway to keep it a one goal game heading into the second intermission.
Ice Dogs' forward Grant Toulmin scored just seconds into the third to tie the game with his 17th of the season, putting him ina tie with Jamie Bourke (Melbourne Mustangs) for the leagues leading goal scorer. However, two goals from the Bears’ Tyler Noseworthy would put the home side back in front with just over three minutes remaining for the final win.
Tyler Noseworthy scores the game-winning-goal for Sydney Bears. Photo credit Peter Podlaha.
Bears assistant coach, Brent Vandenberg, was happy with his team's effort, citing their determination to register a “W” against their local rivals as a driving force behind the game's result. With both teams fighting to keep their finals hopes alive and one game left in the season series between the two sides, things can only heat up, in what is shaping up to be one of 2017s most exciting rivalries.