Bears draw first blood in Battle of Sydney

April 16, 2023

Bears draw first blood in Battle of Sydney

The Sydney Bears defeated the Sydney Ice Dogs 6-3 in front of a packed Macquarie Ice Rink on Saturday night. Import signing Ace Cowans scored two goals, Thomas Steven collected four points, and goaltender Dane Brumm recorded 23 saves for the victory.

It was the Ice Dogs who would score first in this contest. Ice Dogs’ forward Strat Allen won the puck in the corner with an aggressive forecheck and found Mackenzie Bolger alone in the slot. The rookie made no mistake in putting the Ice Dogs up just 1:44 into the contest.

Less than a minute later, the Bears restored parity. Tyerell Clare set up Ace Cowans in the left faceoff circle, who wired a cross-crease pass to Thomas Steven for the backdoor finish.

Ice Dogs’ goaltender Sean Ellison had to be sharp to deny an A-Grade Bears scoring chance from the top line. Thomas Steven split the defence before setting up the trailing forward, Ace Cowans, in the slot. Ellison blanked Cowans and denied Kenshin Hayashi on the follow-up attempt.

Despite a pair of powerplay opportunities, the Bears could not break the deadlock and ended the period on the penalty kill.

Just before the midway point of the second period, the Bears killed off a 5-on-3 penalty, and Dane Brumm had to be at his best to stop Ivan Kuleshov all alone in the right faceoff circle. The puck went the other way, and Dmitri Kuleshov hauled down Jeremy Brücker. Brücker subsequently collided with the Ice Dogs’ goaltender, and Ellison spent several minutes being assessed by the physio before play resumed.

Although the initial takedown went unpenalised, an Ice Dog went to the box for the post-whistle shenanigans, giving the Bears a fourth powerplay opportunity.

The Bears applied sustained pressure before Ace Cowans took the puck on the half-wall. None of the three Ice Dogs penalty killers in the area challenged the puck handler. Cowans took what the defence gave him, which was an open path to the net, and deposited a backhand shot from down low past Ellison.

With seconds remaining in the second period, the Bears doubled its lead with a textbook two-on-one opportunity. Jeremy Brücker skated around the lone defenceman and found Tyerell Clare with a perfect pass for the backdoor tap-in.

Minutes into the third period, the Bears line of Cowans, Hayashi and Steven was involved again. Steven skated into the top of the right faceoff circle, but instead of shooting, he found a streaking Kenshin Hayashi at the back post for the 4-1 lead.

Thomas Steven was at it again less than a minute later, setting up Brian Funes in the slot from behind the net, and Funes fired it past a sprawling Ellison. The score was 5-1 and the game was in danger of becoming a blowout like so many Sydney Derbies last season.

The Ice Dogs took their timeout to stem the tide, but things looked bleak when Ellison gestured to be removed from the game, favouring his left shoulder. The Ice Dogs, however, continued fighting and halved the deficit through goals from Samuel Ivanic and Dmitri Kuleshov.

Ace Cowans sealed the Bears' victory with an empty net goal as time expired to give the Bears the 6-3 win.

Notes and Quotes
Import goaltender Dane Brumm was solid throughout his debut and impressed Head Coach Ron Kuprowsky. “He was a pleasant surprise,” Kuprowsky said, “he played as well as any import goaltender, and we’re looking forward to him backing up [Anthony] Kimlin.”

The line of Cowans, Steven, and Hayashi was impactful throughout the contest, involved in all six goals. “Ace and Tommy are in game shape, and Kenny [Kenjin Hayashi] is getting there, so watch for improvement from that line,” Kuprowsky added.

For Bears' forward Thomas Steven, seeing his first goal of the season hit the back of the net was satisfying. “It was such a good feeling,” he said. “The goal for the season is to get a goal every game, so it was a good start.”

Steven also collected three assists, and said being part of that line with Hayashi and Cowans is “so much fun. Both of them are very good at moving the puck.”

Referring to star import Ace Cowans, Steven joked “Kenny and I said we should just give Ace the puck and try to get open! We’re still getting used to each other, but it was a great start for us.”

The near sell-out crowd at Macquarie Ice Rink was pleasing to see for the team. Despite it being an Ice Dogs home game, the vocal Bears fans lifted the team.

“It almost felt like it was finals already,” Steven remarked. “The whole team is looking forward to seeing that support at every game.”

“It’s great when you’re the visiting team and you can hear your crowd being very vocal,” Kuprowsky commented. “The crowd is our seventh player. We need our fans to get to the rink and support us all season, it’s so important for us.”

Ensure you get your tickets for the Bears’ first home game of the season when we take on the defending champion CBR Brave at Macquarie Ice Rink on Sunday, April 23, at 5 pm. Check out our membership options and see you at the rink!

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