The Sydney Bears survived a scare against the Central Coast Rhinos, pulling away late with a 5-2 victory. The contest was punctuated with penalties, as almost 29 minutes involved special teams; six out of the seven goals were scored with the man advantage.
Central Coast played the CBR Brave on Saturday and put up a hard fight before wilting late in a 9-1 loss. The scoreline could have been much worse had it not been for the efforts of import goaltender Andrew Masters.
In an early season quirk, the Central Coast Rhinos have played much better on Sundays, staying in contests until late, and that proved to be the case yet again.
The Rhinos took the lead on the powerplay halfway through the first period. Joakim Erdugan was perfectly positioned to bang home the rebound past Bears’ netminder Anthony Kimlin off a Robert Malloy shot.
Sydney equalised on a powerplay of its own in the twilight of the first. Tomas Landa gathered the puck from the faceoff and skated from the right-wing boards to between the circles before firing past a screened Masters.
Another powerplay goal followed midway through the second. Some good puck movement down low drew the attention of the Rhinos’ penalty killers, and Marc McNulty was wide open to receive the pass from Michael Schlamp and fire it blocker side, off the post and in the net. New import Joshua Lammon picked up the secondary assist and provided the net-front screen.
Later in the period, Brian Funes was assessed to have checked Erdugan to the head and was given a match penalty and a five-minute major. There did not seem to be any ill intent on the play; however, intent in these instances is irrelevant in the interest of player safety.
Aidan Wardlaw converted with a wrister between the circles, and Sydney did well to escape the period with the scores level at two. It was the first time this season that the Central Coast Rhinos’ did not trail heading into the final frame.
The Bears smartly killed off the remaining 75 seconds of Funes’ five-minute major and took the lead midway through the period on another powerplay opportunity.
Ace Cowans skated down the left-wing and spotted Tommy Stevens all alone below the right faceoff circle. Steven quickly snapped a wrister from a tight angle that beat Masters clean to give the Bears a 3-2 lead.
Steven has had a sensational start, scoring in every Bears game this season and leading the team with nine goals.
Timothy Newmark added an insurance goal four minutes later with the game’s first and only even-strength goal. Newmark picked off a poor Rhinos’ pass in the right circle and cranked a slap-shot glove-side that Masters could only wave at as it bulged the back of the net.
With fifteen seconds remaining, Jeremy Brücker drew another penalty, and Marc McNulty grabbed his second of the game with a wrister from the blue line that went top-shelf past Masters’ glove.
Up next for the Bears is a tough road weekend to Melbourne, where the team will face the Ice on Saturday at 5 pm and the Mustangs on Sunday at 2 pm.
The Bears lead the Hellyer Conference by a single point over the Mustangs, so Sunday's game is must-watch hockey. Sydney is also tied with the Brisbane Lightning for the league lead with 18 points, although the Bears have two games in hand.The next home game will be Saturday, June 3, at 5 pm against the Adelaide Adrenaline. The team needs you, our seventh player, at the rink to lift the team. Click here to get your tickets, check out our membership packages, and see you at the rink!
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