The Perth Thunder ended the weekend with a 3-1 win at the Phillip Ice Skating Centre in Canberra to cap off another successful road trip against CBR Brave.
There was plenty of back and forth action in the first period, with both sides playing with intensity and purpose. It was evident that fans were going to be in for yet another goalie duel with both the Brave's Aleksi Toivonen and Thunder’s Di Salvo up to the task. By the end of the first period, the score remained the same as when the puck dropped, 0-0.
The second period continued the flow of the first, with both teams looking to break the deadlock. It was again the two goalies that would stand tallest on the ice, with both showing a slight penchant for the dramatic with several spectacular saves.
With just 5 minutes left in the second period, a defensive miscue from Mark Rummukainen, gifted the puck to the Thunder's Christian Ouellet right in front of Toivonen. Ouellet walked in on Toivonen and roofed the puck over Toivonen’s blocker to break the deadlock and give the visitors a late 1-0 lead.
Mere minutes later, another defensive miscue from the Brave allowed Ouellet time and space to lock in on his target and snipe a low wrister over Toivonen’s pads to extend the visitors’ lead to 2-0.
The Brave took to the locker rooms for the second intermission with some soul searching to do in order to turn the game, and their recent slump, around. When the teams stepped on the ice to start the third period, the Brave took the game to the Thunder and looked to turn their fortunes around. Try as they might, Peter Di Salvo proved to be nigh on impossible.
With the Brave looking to turn the tide, a misread puck by the Bayley Kubara allowed Ben Breault to waltz in on Toivonen and launch a wrist shot past the blocker side to give the Thunder a seemingly insurmountable lead with just under 11 minutes left in the game.
CBR Brave continued to battle, and with a little help through a penalty to Kieren Webster, the Brave were rewarded with less than 4 minutes left in the game. Chris McPhail deflected a Jan Safar blue line slapper to beat Di Salvo and spark a little hope in the Brave and bring the score to 3-1.
On the impact of losing Jessyko Bernard from Saturday and travelling with a light roster, the Thunder's coach Dave Ruck said, “We just had to get the line pairings right, and as long as the boys know what their roles are, it doesn’t matter who they play with. We just get guys in those roles and it worked.” Ruck continued, “We can never take anything for granted. There are always things we can improve on and, like I said, we just keep working hard and making those improvements, keep setting goals and hopefully achieve them all.”
Brave coach Rob Starke spoke to the impact that missed opportunities are having on the Brave recently, “I think we have to find a way to score more goals and generate more offence. We have a lot of firepower and I think it’s a matter of capitalising on opportunities. You can’t win hockey games in most leagues in the world scoring 2 or 1 goal.” Starke also noted the positive impact of Thunder goalie Peter Di Salvo and the inability to get their game plan going as key factors in the loss, “Obviously it didn’t go as planned, we faced a hot goalie and it’s time for us to push the reset button and get back to Brave hockey, because we have a steep hill to climb going forward.”
Perth Thunder captain Jamie Woodman exits the zone under pressure from CBR Brave forward Kai Miettinen. Photo Credit: Paul Furness.
Perth Thunder goalie Peter Di Salvo shuts the door on CBR Brave forward Geordie Wudrick. Photo credit: Paul Furness.
Perth Thunder forward Christian Ouellet was on fire with 2 goals on the night. Ouellet makes CBR Brave goalie Aleksi Toivonen work to save this shot. Photo credit: Paul Furness.