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Adelaide Adrenaline and the Sydney Ice Dogs combined for another goal-scoring frenzy, but on Saturday it was the Adrenaline who came out on top in their Australian Ice Hockey League clash.
Three Adelaide skaters had two-goal nights, and Peter King made 32 saves as the Adrenaline defeated Sydney 7-5 in game one of their weekend doubleheader in Adelaide.
After losing 10-4 in the Sydney on May 11, Adelaide responded with its best first period of 2014 to level its season series with the Ice Dogs and maintain its grip on second spot.
The Adrenaline had not scored two goals in the opening period of any of their 10 games this season, but had two in the first 121 seconds on Saturday.
Josef Rezek opened the scoring with his first goal of the season after 1:10, and defender Josh Harding continued his early-season scoring run with a power play goal after 2:01.
The Ice Dogs — the league’s top scoring side — hit back through David Dunwoodie with 9:02 remaining in the opening period.
Import David Chubb scored a power play goal as Adelaide restored its two-goal lead before the first intermission.
In the second period four goals were split between the sides, with Harding picking up his second powerplay goal of the game and Wehebe Darge scoring his first.
Richard Tesarik pulled a goal back, and John Clewlow did the same after Darge scored, as the Ice Dogs kept it to a 5-3 deficit heading into the last.
Darge scored his second of the night 5:13 into the final period, as the Adrenaline took their third three-goal advantage of the contest.
With the Ice Dogs pushing hard for goals, opportunities opened up for both sides in a free-flowing period.
Dunwoodie scored his second of the game, and Robert Malloy cut the margin to one in the final three minutes as the Ice Dogs threatened to take Adelaide to a familiar shootout.
It wasn't to be, with the Adrenaline holding the reigning champions off and Rezek icing the game with an empty-net goal in the dying seconds as Adelaide scored an important three points at home.
Import defender Niko Suoraniemi had a game-high four points for the Adrenaline, with Brett Liscomb (three assists) and Rezek (two goals and an assist) ending with three points.
Clewlow — who scored four goals in the previous encounter between the sides — had three points (one goal, two assists) for the visitors.
King was solid in goal in the absence of import goaltender Mike Will.
The 25-year-old faced a season-high 37 shots, saving 32 for his fourth win of the season.
Adelaide coach Ryan O’Handley says Saturday’s 6-3 loss at home to the Newcastle North Stars is a valuable lesson for his side.
The Adrenaline largely controlled the opening two periods, but were tied at 2-2 heading into the third.
Newcastle came out hungry in the final period, and scored the opening three goals to lead 5-2 before holding off Adelaide in a frenetic finish.
“We coasted, the guys coasted,” O’Handley said. “We’ve played the three periods in Newcastle plus the first two here and we have had most of the play, and the guys just thought we could coast and you can't afford to do that.”
“I hope we learnt a valuable lesson tonight because if you are not on your game you are going to get beaten - it doesn’t matter who you are playing.”
Cody Danberg scored his second of the night with 16:51 remaining in the third to break the tie, before goals to Chris Wilson and Matt Lindsay put the North Stars in control with a 5-2 lead.
Darren Corstens converted on a breakaway chance for Adelaide with 3:01 remaining to cut the lead to two-goals.
The Adrenaline pulled goaltender Mike Will in the final two minutes, with Wilson finding the empty net to seal victory.
Wilson had a five-point night for the visitors, with Adam Geric (five points) and Danberg (three points) playing important roles as Newcastle recorded its third win in four road games.
Earlier, Adelaide opened the scoring in the second period through Brett Liscomb after David Huxley found the Canadian with a clearing pass.
The North Stars equalised through Geric 50 seconds later, with one of its limited chances in the second period.
Niko Suoraniemi scored his fourth goal of the season with 2:05 remaining after strong pressure from James Keane, David Chubb and Liscomb locked the puck in Adelaide's attacking zone.
Danberg scored his first of the night after Will was unable to cleanly glove the save to again even the contest.
Despite outshooting the North Stars through two periods, and having similar offensive struggles at home to Perth a fortnight ago, O'Handley is not concerned by the Adrenaline's conversion rate.
"We’re facing some good goaltenders, his job is to stop pucks, so you’re going to have some tight games and have to work hard to score goals,” O'Handley said. "We have to tighten up on our end."
Adelaide has conceded 16 goals in its past two starts, after allowing an average of two goals per game through five games.
O'Handley says that his goaltenders need more support in front of the net.
"Mike was OK, the first two periods were solid but we didn’t give him any help in the third," O'Handley said. "There are probably a couple he would want back tonight, but this isn’t a loss we are going to hang on him. We have to play better in front of him."
Will saved 24 of 29 shots faced, suffering his second loss in three starts.
Adelaide face Newcastle in game two of the doubleheader on Sunday, with the Adrenaline looking to reverse its poor home form.
"We are below .500 at home, and that is not where we are meant to be."
Second-placed Adelaide can consolidate its position in the Australian Ice Hockey League top-two with a successful road trip to Canberra and Sydney this weekend.
The Adrenaline continued their strong start to the season by picking up four points at home to Perth last weekend, dropping a shootout 4-3 on Saturday before snapping a seven-game losing streak against the Thunder with Sunday's 1-0 win.
With nine points from four games, Adelaide is off to its best start to a season since collecting eight points from the first four matches in 2012.
This weekend the Adrenaline come up against the fledgling CBR Brave on Saturday, before taking on the Ice Dogs under their new coach Andrew Petrie.
Captain Greg Oddy says his side is aware of the challenge ahead as it looks to remain undefeated in regulation.
“Canberra is always a difficult road trip … it is probably one of the toughest road trips in the league and they get great crowd support,” Oddy said.
“The Ice Dogs have had a couple of losses but they haven't had a home game this year and have been to Melbourne a couple of times.”
Adelaide are travelling without import Mans Lindgren, who fractured his wrist against Perth, and defender Nick Clark.
Import goaltender Mike Will joins the side, with Sean Greer returning from suspension and Zach Boyle also added to the line-up, highlighting the depth of talent available at the Adrenaline.
“We have more depth this year, and it has been evident in the start to the season.”
Adelaide still have Charlie Huber and youngster Kayne Fedor to welcome back.
Despite scoring only four goals from 108 shots against the Thunder in last weekend’s doubleheader, offence isn’t a concern for the Adrenaline.
“We ran into a hot goalie,” Oddy said.
“He (Mathieu Dugas) is probably the best goalie I have seen come down here in 15 years.”
Adelaide average 3.3 goals per game, fourth in the league. They have allowed only 2 goals per game on the back of two shutouts in four starts for Peter King.
After managing only six points in the first six games last year as it missed the playoffs, Oddy attributes the change in fortunes this season to a fresh start.
“We haven’t changed too much in terms of coaching staff or veterans, we just really have four imports who want to be here and want to win”
“Everyone just seems more positive.”
Brave: CBR Brave have been impressive in their opening two games after building from the remains of the Knights in the month before the season began.
The Brave lost to Newcastle in its opener 2-0 before defeating Sydney Ice Dogs 6-2 - both in Canberra - to sit fifth with three points.
Idle last weekend, the Brave will be searching for win number two with the chance to move into the top four. On Sunday they hit the road for the first time to play Newcastle.
Ice Dogs: The Goodall Cup holder’s campaign started with an emphatic 9-2 win but has since gone sour.
The Ice Dogs have lost four straight amidst the departure of its coaching staff, and dropped both games of a doubleheader in Melbourne last weekend.
However, with a new coach appointed and the Ice Dogs at home for the first time this weekend, they pose a threat to any side. They play Newcastle on Saturday.
Canadian David Chubb has impressed in the early stages of the season for the Adrenaline. The 26-year-old has five points in four games, but has also shown he can contribute on the defensive side.
Christopher McPhail had a three-point night in the Brave’s first win. The 22-year-old, who returned to Canberra after not playing in 2013, scored two goals against the Ice Dogs. The utility was the 2008 rookie of the year at the Knights.
Ice Dog's import Simon Barg has looked unstoppable in his second AIHL stint. The 31-year-old leads the league in scoring with 11 points (seven goals and four assists) from five games. Barg scored both goals in last Saturday's loss to Melbourne Mustangs.
Adelaide averages more shots per game (40.8) than any other side, while allowing the second fewest (27.3 shots per game) behind only the Melbourne Mustangs.
The team to score first has gone on to win 12 of 15 AIHL games this season.
The Adrenaline have a power play percentage of just 7.1% after four rounds of the season. The Ice Dogs are at 21.1% and the Brave 8.3% in its two games.
Adelaide has scored more goals in the third period (8) than it has in the first and second period combined (5). The Adrenaline’s eight third-period goals is a league-high. Sydney Ice Dogs are second with seven goals in the last period.
Story by David Penrose
Adelaide remains undefeated in regulation after splitting its home-opening doubleheader against Perth on Sunday.
The Thunder took Saturday's game 4-3 in a shootout, but the Adrenaline bounced back on Sunday to record a 1-0 win and take four points from the weekend.
Despite combining for 89 shots in game two, it took until 11:28 remaining in the third for the only goal of the contest.
Adelaide import Brett Liscomb scored the game-winning-goal following a scramble in front of goal.
Liscomb, David Chubb and Wehebe Darge forced the goal after locking the puck into the Adrenaline's attacking zone, before finally beating Mathieu Dugas.
Adelaide made some minor adjustments to its offensive lines, but failed to score through two periods despite a 34-19 shot advantage and five powerplay opportunities.
Chubb came close to opening the scoring on several occasions, but was denied by Dugas and the post.
Perth was not without its own scoring chances, but Peter King kept them out to record his second AIHL shutout a week after recording his first.
King made 35 saves on the night, while Dugas stopped 53 of 54 shots faced for the Thunder.
The win ended a seven-game losing streak for Adelaide against Perth.
Mans Lindgren did not see out the game after suffering a serious wrist injury.
On Saturday, the Adrenaline suffered their first loss of the season after falling in a shootout.
Perth took an early lead as Adelaide was unable to kill a 5-on-3 after David Manning and Lindgren picked up roughing penalties.
Andrew Cox scored the power play goal for the Thunder to go ahead 1-0 after 3:26.
The Adrenaline had 18 shots to six in the opening period as Chubb, Darge, Darren Corstens and Greg Oddy all had great chances, but Cox doubled the advantage in the second with his second goal.
James Keane scored his first goal of the season 44-seconds later, and with 12:01 remaining in the third a Josh Harding slapshot tied the game at 2-2.
Perth had gone on the attack early in the final period, with the man-advantage after back-to-back penalties to Ben Gebert and David Huxley, but were denied by King who made 27 saves.
The Thunder regained the lead on an unassisted effort from David Kudla with just over five minutes remaining.
Oddy scored the tying-goal from Liscomb with 1:34 remaining to force a shootout and keep alive Adelaide's point-streak.
The Adrenaline ended with one point as Stuart Stefan scored the only goal of the shootout for Perth.
Adelaide remains second behind Melbourne Ice with nine points from four games. The Adrenaline visit fledgling CBR Brave on Saturday before facing the Sydney Ice Dogs on Sunday.
Undefeated Adelaide will look to carry its strong early-season form into this weekend's Australian Ice Hockey League home-opener against Perth.
The Adrenaline gained five of a possible six points on the road last weekend, shutting out Newcastle before storming home to defeat Sydney Bears in a shootout.
Coach Ryan O'Handley could not have asked for a better start and is hoping Adelaide can continue its strong form this weekend as it looks for the consistency and home form which was lacking in 2013.
“Obviously it is really important to have a good performance in our home opener this weekend,” O’Handley said.
“Traditionally we have a really good record at home … but last year wasn’t so good and we want to rectify that this year.”
The Adrenaline blanked the North Stars 4-0 last Saturday, producing a strong defensive showing to limit the home side to 14 shots as Peter King recorded his first AIHL shutout.
On Sunday a weary Adelaide relied on a four-goal blitz in the third period to force a shootout, where goals to Dean Peterson and Mans Lindgren secured two points for the visitors.
Each of the Adrenaline’s imports scored a goal and at least two points, while the local contingent looked strong.
“I was happy with everybody (last weekend). The imports played well, the local guys played well and we got five goals from our defencemen so everybody was contributing.”
This weekend the Adrenaline welcome back Wehebe Darge, who was absent from the opening-series.
Darge is coming off a successful offseason where he was part of the Dayton Demonz side which won the Federal Hockey League.
“(Wehebe) is just getting better every year and he looks outstanding right now.”
“I’m really looking forward to seeing him in action,” O’Handley said.
Another exciting young prospect will also dress for the first time this weekend, with 16-year-old Ted Fabijan set to make his AIHL debut.
Adelaide is second on the AIHL ladder with five points from two games, behind the Melbourne Ice (eight points from four games).
Thunder: Two games, zero goals. Perth were unable to light the lamp at home to Melbourne Ice in its season-opener, and will be on the search for its first goal and points this weekend.
If last season's clashes between the sides are an indication, the goals won't be a problem. The Thunder outscored the Adrenaline 25-19 in four meetings last year.
Experienced Adrenaline defender Josh Harding produced at both ends of the ice last weekend. On Saturday the 28-year-old defended strongly in front of King as Adelaide applied constant pressure on the North Stars. On Sunday, Harding scored two goals in the final three minutes as Adelaide came home strong to earn two points.
After arriving just days before the Thunder played their opener, goaltender Mathieu Dugas performed well despite dropping both decisions. Dugas allowed six goals in two games, but saved 64 of 70 shots faced for a .914 save percentage.
Adelaide won its first two games against Perth, but has since lost six in a row against the Thunder.
The Adrenaline won their 2013 home-opener 6-3 against the Sydney Bears and are 4-1 since 2009 in their first home game of the season.