Thursday, August 1, 2019 - Submitted by Jack Wright
The Agile Group Adelaide Adrenaline fell on Saturday, this time to the Melbourne Mustangs in a game that featured a roller coaster of emotions.
Depsite the 8-3 scoreline, there was signs of improvement and development. In fact, Adelaide had a 3-2 lead heading into the final period.
With Adelaide being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for some time, the Adrenaline are playing for pride, whereas the Mustangs are clinging onto the fifth position on the ladder, nine points behind the last playoff positioned Thunder. They need every point possible to make the Top 4.
Adelaide were eager to build upon the previous game’s third period dominance against the Bears, and use that momentum to carry them to a victory against the Mustangs.
While the Adrenaline played excellently in the first and second, a third period meltdown cost the team their first elusive victory of the season.
The start of the first period was an exciting affair as the puck was in total motion for 4:25, with both teams rolling through all available lines.
Adelaide netminder Jesse Gordichuck started the game strong in net, using his experience to position his body effectively when challenged.
However, Jamie Bourke and Matt Anderson of the Mustangs tallied the first two goals of the game in a span of three and a half minutes, and Adelaide were in an all too familiar position once again.
But Adelaide answered back quickly on the power-play, with an all import scoring effort. Adelaide’s PP QB, Alexandre Gauthier passed the puck from the mid-point to Ales Kratoska who one-touched a pass cross-crease to Benjamin Gavoille who snapped the puck home over the goalies pads to put the Adrenaline back into the game, 2-1.
Using the late period goal as momentum, Adelaide played one of their best periods during the second stage of the game.
Andrew Stapleton had this to say about the second frame:
“We took the late goal and everything started to click, it was good hockey and felt like a proper hockey game. We were on our toes instead of our heels, we were hunting for the puck instead of waiting for it to come to us.”
Nathaniel Benson scored a greasy game-tying goal mid-way through the second. Benson retrieved the puck after a rebound attempt of Harley Anderson, skated to the hash marks, spun around and fired the puck 5-hole past the screen Mustangs goalie. The goal brought the home crowd onto their feet and back into the game.
But the fun didn’t stop there for the Adrenaline. While shorthanded and hemmed in their own zone, Jake Riley intercepted a blue line pass and took off for the Mustang goalie. With a Mustang defender harassing him the length of the ice, Riley deked backhand to forehand and scored top-shelf to put the Adrenaline up by one with 25 seconds remaining.
With the go ahead goal, the home team and crowd were extra excited heading into the final intermission. But the Mustangs used that energy and came alive early in the third.
Head coach, Jim Fuyarchuck, lamented on the third frame:
“It’s incredible how one shift can turn a game around. Were up 3-2 going into the third period, played a good first period, a better second. We were in a good position, in control and the start of the third period is not at all what we talked about doing.”
In a span of thirteen minutes, the Mustangs poured on the shots, scoring on 5 of those chances.
The five goals are becoming a testament of the Adrenaline season thus far, as explained by Nathaniel Benson:
“It’s starting to become regular third period action. Every time we work our asses off to get in that winning position, we crumble. I think at this point we have to look at each other and ourselves and see what we can do to fix it, because it’s happening too often.”
During the Mustangs onslaught, Adelaide import defencemen Alexandre Gauthier collided with a Mustangs player in the neutral zone. The collision was behind the play and didn’t appear to be dirty as there was no retaliation from either side. Gauthier subsequently left the ice and didn’t return for the rest of the game. Coach Fuyarchuck later confirmed that he suffered whiplash and is a 50/50 chance on playing Sunday night.
Despite the third period disappointment, a major sign of improvement comes in the form of special teams. Adelaide’s PK was in control tonight, killing both penalties and scoring shorthanded while the first PP unit tallied a goal.
When asked if the third period will affect the Adrenaline on Sunday night, Coach Fuyarchuck said:
”You have to learn from it, tomorrow is a whole new game. You have another chance to change the results. Some guys will come tomorrow, determined and well prepared mentally to play, and some guys will be rattled mentally. It’s those guys you have to try and help along and make sure they are focused on what they have to be doing.”