Saturday, August 19, 2017 - Submitted by Alex Jacobs
The Adelaide Adrenaline, proudly presented by Hards Transport, put it all on the line against the Sydney Bears, and ultimately the finish was not there as the Bears claimed a 3-2 shootout win.
Darren Corstens and Marcel McGuiness put themselves on the scoreboard for Adelaide in the clash of the AIHL’s bottom two, while Pete King was the standout in goal.
There was also new blood in the side as Andrew Chen made his AIHL debut while Head Coach Sami Mantere gave some of Adelaide’s rising stars more time on the ice.
“We’re looking pretty good right now; we’ve had a couple of young guys come up throughout the year and you can see with the guys that have played a bit more are getting more confident with every game,” Mantere said.
In a goalless first period defence was crucial for both sides and Ben Gebert, David Huxley and Ales Kratoska had to fight off regular Sydney challenges.
Early momentum was with the Bears as Tyler Noseworthy and Jackson Brewer kept the Adrenaline on their toes, however it was an injury to Kratoska which marred the clash.
When Sean Greer gave up possession in front of goal the ensuing battle saw Kratoska take what seemed to be a high stick to the face, but the collision was more serious. Needing to be assisted from the ice it was a serious shoulder injury which saw the Czech import go down and take an unplanned trip to the hospital.
“He won’t play tomorrow and then we’ll have to see whether he can play next week,” Mantere explained.
A sloppier start to the second led to more even period, although Sydney continued to dominate shots on goal, with King easily one of the best on the ice. With stop after stop he ensured the Bears would not get the upperhand, and at one point he was diving across the goal for a superb body save.
Another star was Greg Oddy in a match which saw him turn back the clock and outskate most of the players on the ice, while he nearly scored on a wraparound shot which skipped across the face of goal.
Adelaide opened the scoring soon after, though, as Darren Corstens pounced on a clearance from a timely change, stealing the loose puck from the reach of a Sydney defender. Corstens only had to tempt Kimlin out of the net and the goal came via a sharp flick to the top left corner.
The goal capped off a superb run of play for the Adrenaline, unfortunately it was Sydney who had the last laugh heading into the final period through Brian Funes who scored off a back pass from Nicholas Rivait at close range.
Mistakes in the third period hurt Adelaide and the Bears pounced a major defensive blunder which saw King leave the puck for his defender behind goal - who was not actually there - and Richard Tesarik pounced to tuck the puck into the net.
Down 2-1 there was still 12 minutes to play and it was the experienced Oddy who stepped up with another scintillating run down the left wing.
His cross through traffic found Marcel McGuiness and the youngster scored a low goal past kimlin with complete composure. It was a pleasing result for Mantere in a season where a select few have racked up the points.
“That’s been a big problem for us when we have Critchlow and those boys not scoring, we’re not getting secondary scoring,” he said.
“The goal is to get guys like Marcel, Jake [Riley] to step in the future and score when the imports aren’t scoring.”
As the clock ticked down the Adrenaline earned a powerplay with less than two minutes to play but they could not break down Sydney’s ranks and the dreaded shootout followed.
King was up to the challenge in denying Brewer and Noseworthy but it was Tesarik who found the back of the net for the second time. At the other end Critchlow and MacMillan could not beat Kimlin and McGuiness sent his must-score goal wide of the net.
“I think we were a bit slow,” Mantere said. “We were alright but in this league alright is not good enough anymore.”
“We matched up alright but I expected more and expected us to take the game on more.”