The Adelaide Avalanche, proudly presented by Hards Transport, returned for another game in an attempt to extend their undefeated run, but it was the Perth Thunder who snagged the points in a 4-2 win.
Two late goals to Perth sealed the win despite a frenzied, and sometimes ugly, game of hockey. Ales Kratoska and Cam Critchlow scored the goals, and after an up-and-down weekend the Czech import had some mixed feelings.
“From yesterday I was happy with our win but today with the loss I wasn’t happy,” Kratoska explained.
“Our defence today was not as good. But yesterday it was a good atmosphere; so many people it was nice, very nice for us.”
It was a scoreless game for 13 minutes despite flashy skating and hot shots from Joey Rezek, and it was arguably Peter Di Salvo who had the best start.
The Perth goalie denied Adelaide on numerous occasions and it was easy to see why the Thunder has been so good in 2017, although their defence was scrambled at times.
When Cam Critchlow was brought down during a blistering run there was a chance for an early breakthrough but there was no stop in play and his eventual shot was saved.
Entering the final few minutes Rezek was denied by a lunging Di Salvo and soon after their second line opened up the Avalanche with a pass around the back of goal.
Kieran Webster then fired off a sharp pass to Lynden Lodge who flicked in the puck into the top of the net.
An intense second period saw both sides come out intent to score and the Thunder came close when Christian Ouelley expertly opened up the angle on Murphy. Closing ranks, the Adelaide defence denied him from firing off a shot and the puck bounced away from a clear opening.
With six minutes left Perth had their goal, though, winning possession from a face-off. Against a stationary Avalanche, Rob Haselhurst fired a rocket through to goal and even a deflection from Matt Murphy could not angle the puck away from the back of the net.
Down 2-0 Adelaide needed a fast response and they had it less than a minute later when Critchlow and Kratoska charged down the ice in a quick 2-on-2.
Finding space along the left wing, Kratoska was perfectly placed for Critchlow’s pass and before Di Salvo could blink the puck bounced off the crossbar and it was 2-1.
The third period was not as positive for the home side and Kratoska was clear about Adelaide’s chances while also praising a vocal crowd over the weekend.
“We started nicely but we had so many chances and didn’t score,” he said.
“There was just some simple mistakes. We must score more goals; when the crowd cheers louder it is motivation for us to score goals.”
Trailing by the one goal, a bullet from Ouellet effectively ended Adelaide’s day with his long range goal going in with such force that Murphy’s water bottle was knocked off the top of goal and the puck rebounded straight out.
A powerplay with six minutes left could not get the Avalanche into goal despite strong chances from Kratoska and Zach Boyle. Meanwhile it was Perth who scored at the other end when a breakaway with Ben Breault and Jessyko Bernard saw the latter score against a helpless Murphy.
Cam Critchlow had a late goal off a penalty shot but with less than two minutes to go it was too late. It was a highlight, however, as he enticed Di Salvo out of goal and with the goalie too far left, Critchlow scored into the bottom right corner.
With four games remaining, Adelaide continues its home stand against the Sydney Bears next weekend and with a chance to jump out of last – and avoid flying – Kratoska is feeling good.
“It’s easy for us when we play at home because we have so many fans here, it’s a great advantage,” he said.
“Plus travelling is so boring and long – I hate planes. This is a great chance for us to get more wins.”