The final Melbourne derby for season 2019 has ended with the Melbourne Mustangs taking a 5-1 win at the expense of the Melbourne Ice, in front of a packed O’Brien Icehouse on Friday night.
A 4-goal third period from the Mustangs was the difference in the end, after the Ice had kept it a tied game at both intermissions, thanks to some stellar Sebastian Andersson goaltending.
A scoreless first period was punctuated by several good chances for the Mustangs. Mitch Humphries skated rings around the Ice defence and Matt Anderson played catalyst on several opportunities for the men in orange and black, however Andersson kept them out at every turn.
The Ice lacked any meaningful chances in the first period and were on the back foot for most of it, with Kasey Kulcyzcki and John Piotrowski the only two bright spots for Melbourne.
The Mustangs outshot the Ice 10-3 in the first frame, but despite the offensive advantage it finished 0-0 at the first intermission.
The second period started with more of the same. The Mustangs unleashed shot after shot on Andersson but were denied on each occasion. That was until Thomas Flack grabbed his first career AIHL goal, with some help from Humphries and Anderson, and the Mustangs took a 1-0 lead with 11:22 to play.
The Mustangs were again unable to break through the goaltending of Andersson for the majority of the period, despite multiple quality chances to Christian Isackson and Jamie Bourke.
Piotrowski responded for the Ice with 43 seconds remaining in the period, to tie the game 1-1. The shot count was now a whopping 21-5 in favour of the Mustangs but just like the first period, it was a tie hockey game, this time 1-1 heading into the break.
However, the Mustangs ran riot in the third.
Playing in his 199th AIHL game, Brendan MacDowell opened the scoring for the Mustangs just four and a half minutes in to into the third period to give the Mustangs the lead. Sean Jones added another goal two minutes later, to extend the Mustangs’ advantage to two goals and really begin to take the wind out of the Ice.
Parker Thomas continued his hot streak with his 4th goal in three games, tallying on the power play with 6:53 to go to make it 4-1. Vadim Virjassov then added a little post-script, scoring the final goal of the game to give the Mustangs a 5-1 win and a vital three points in the context of their AIHL season.
Humphries and Bourke both picked up two points on the evening for the Mustangs, while Nastiuk stopped 15 from 16.
Andersson stopped 28 of 33 in the loss.
Mustangs’ coach Max Langelier-Parent was happy to bounce back with the win.
“I think we played a very solid game from start to finish. We took care of our defensive zone and the offensive zone took care of itself,” Parent said.
“We didn’t really change anything when it came to the third period. The main thing was to not get frustrated. Sometimes when you get that many chances it’s easy to get frustrated but we just kept doing the same things and kept working hard and got the win.”
The win sees the Mustangs move onto 24 points but they remain in 5th spot behind the Perth Thunder, who host a double header against the Sydney Ice Dogs this weekend.
Both Melbourne teams will host the visiting Sydney Bears on the weekend. The Ice play the Bears at 5pm AEST on Saturday while the Mustangs will face the Bears at 2pm on Sunday afternoon at the O’Brien Icehouse.