The Sydney Ice Dogs double header weekend began with an emphatic victory 7-4 over the Newcastle Northstars on Friday night. After a disappointing trip to Perth, which saw the Ice Dogs relegated to sixth on the AIHL ladder, the team returned to Macquarie needing to secure competition points to keep their finals hopes alive.
In a fast-paced first period, local young-gun Kale Costa scored first, making the most of his opportunity on the top line, centring imports Grant Toulmin and Tim Crowder.
But it didn’t take long before the second placed Northstars flexed their might and took control of the first period, forward Francis Drolet scored twice, and the visitors lead 3-1 heading into the first intermission.
Needing to rally in the second, the Ice Dogs’ first line took it upon themselves to mount a comeback. Tim Crowder scored and bought the Ice Dogs within one, and Costa picked up his second point of the night with the assist.
Toulmin made no mistake on a breakaway opportunity midway through the period, tying the game and swinging the momentum the Ice Dogs’ way. A goal from Newcastle’s Luke Simpson late in the period saw the Ice Dogs headed to the third period down 4-3.
The Ice Dogs wasted no time tying things up at the start of the third, Toulmin grabbing his second goal of the evening to tie the game 4-4. Timely saves by Garrett Bartus and a consistent effort from each line allowed the Ice Dogs the opportunity to pull ahead as the period went on.
Tim Crowder dominated play, scoring his second of the night to give the Ice Dogs a 5-4 lead, and sealing the victory with a hat-trick and a fourth goal on a late game power-play.
Toulmin, who earned the first star of the game with two goals and four assists, reflected on what Tim Crowder and his brother, Paul, have brought to the Ice Dogs this season.
“Since they’ve gotten used to the Australian style of hockey, they’ve just been tearing it up,” said Toulmin post-game.
“Tonight [Tim] was just rolling. It’s fun to watch, and fun to play with more than anything.”
Friday night’s game was proof that Ice Dogs’ can stage a comeback, and Toulmin knows that winning against a cup favourite is what the team is capable of,
“It takes a game like this where you go down a couple of goals early, no on loses their step and the momentum turns,” said Toulmin.
“Guys are having fun, and those are the kind of games you want to play in.”