Saturday, August 12, 2017 - Submitted by Mitchell Mann
A dominant second period has catapulted the CBR Brave to a crucial 8-5 victory over the league leading Melbourne Ice at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre on Saturday night.
The Melbourne Ice travelled to Canberra without their starting goalie Dayne Davis and potent forward Viktor Gibbs Sjödin, but the Ice were prepared for yet another barn-burning weekend series against the Brave.
In their third, purple kit, the Brave salute their fans after a thrilling night of hockey in the capital. All photos: Paul Furness.
At the end of this 13-goal game, CBR Brave Head Coach Rob Starke was pleased with his special teams’ effort.
“I thought we took care of business, obviously we capitalised on some power play opportunities and we won a huge game to really set us into the finals standings.”
Starke then set his sight to the next game.
“If we win tomorrow night, we clinch a playoff berth. They are going to be ready for us – it’s not going to be a nonsense game. We’ve got to bring the same energy and keep on lifting our game, and obviously, find a way to get the job done.”
Jalbert (#71) closes in on Powell (#12).
It was a night where special teams reigned supreme: nine goals were scored on power plays, and the Brave scored a late, short-handed goal.
As the puck dropped for the first period, both the Ice and the Brave were determined to stamp their authority on the game. It looked as though the Brave would be the first to break the deadlock though as the Brave Cave erupted at the sight of Stephen Blunden walking in on Jaden Pine-Murphy, only for the goal to be waved off with a late offside call.
The Brave and the Ice exchanged power play goals in the first period, which saw the teams go into the break tied 1-1.
The early action from the second period saw both teams’ alternate power play goals again, and it wasn’t until Brian Bales struck for the home side with 4:42 left in the second period, that we saw our first even strength goal of the night. The floodgates then opened for the Brave – with 3 power play goals in two minutes – to close out the second period with an impressive 6-2 lead.
As the puck dropped to start the third period, the Brave were quick to extend their lead through yet another power play goal with 19:13 left in the game. The Melbourne Ice, then trailing 7-2 in the early stages of the third period and had their work cut out for them to turn the game around.
The visitors began to tilt the ice in their favour: a scrappy goal from Joseph Hughes brought them to 7-3 with 15:00 left in the third period. A determined Hughes kept the Melbourne Ice machine rolling with a power play goal just minutes later, helping to close the gap 7-4 with 10:04 left on the clock.
Joey Hughes provided a rallying point for this team, keeping Melbourne Ice in the game.
The Brave looked for ways to curb the Ice comeback, but they struck again, this time through Paul Baranzelli to bring Melbourne to within striking distance at 7-5. Despite the shock of the Brave’s early breakaway lead, Melbourne had scored three goals in just under 10 minutes, and with 5:46 left in the game, the tension was palpable.
A penalty to the Brave’s Captain Mark Rummukainen with 1:38 left in the game had the Brave Cave on edge, but the Ice were unable to capitalise. Instead, Brave’s Stephen Blunden iced the game with 0:22 on the clock, picked the pocket of Kristoffer Backman and walked in all alone on Pine-Murphy with the game-closing shot.
Blunden ices the game to take the final score 8-5 to the Brave.
The 13-goal exchange ignited fans and teams alike in an incredible evening of hockey. With both facing off again on Sunday night at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre, the Brave will be hoping to punch their ticket to the AIHL Finals with another win and six competition points.