The Sydney Bears defeated the Adelaide Adrenaline at Macquarie Ice Rink, extending the team’s win streak to seven games. Tomas Landa and Tommy Steven extended their goal-scoring streaks to six and 11 games, respectively.
James Downie took the crease for the Bears, with Justin Harrison as the backup, giving Anthony Kimlin a well-deserved rest.
The last time the two teams met, in Adelaide, Adelaide struck early and often, taking a three-goal lead by the halfway mark of the opening period. Sydney returned the favour, scoring three goals in the first 9:17 of the game.
Tommy Steven tallied the first for the Bears. Marc McNulty gained the zone and drew three players before laying the puck off to Steven.
Steven turned Zach Boyle into a turnstile with a deft deke, went backhand-forehand on Adrenaline goaltender Matus Trnka, and shovelled the puck into the net over Trnka’s sprawling body.
Five minutes later, Sydney doubled its lead on the powerplay. The penalty killers had two chances to break in on Downie, but Steven snuffed out both, first Julian Friederich, then Joey MacDougall, with two excellent backchecks.
The second breakup led to a counter by the Bears that resulted in the second goal. Ace Cowans took the puck up ice quickly and passed to Joshua Lammon at the blue line to gain the zone. Lammon passed to new import Jake Pappalardo who took the puck above the circles and skated in on goal.
Boyle, perhaps not wanting to be burned by another deke, backed in on Trnka, giving Pappalardo plenty of space and time to pick a corner. Pappalardo obliged, choosing the top-right corner above Trnka’s glove for the goal.
A few minutes later, Pappalardo gained the zone and passed the puck back to the blue line before being crunched by Zachary Steele. Joey Gunner whipped the puck to his defensive partner McNulty in the right circle, and McNulty wristed a bullet blocker-side past Trnka to make it 3-0.
Tomas Landa almost extended his goal-scoring streak in the first period. The 39-year-old danced between Morris O’Handley and Jordan Freeman, who made a guard of honour for Landa to the net. Trnka ventured to the top of his paint and flashed the leather to deny the chance.
Andrew Hamilton had the best chance for the visitors at the other end. His wrist shot from the point was swallowed up by Downie. The Bears did an excellent job of shot suppression, limiting the Adrenaline to just six shots in the period.
After killing off a powerplay towards the beginning of the second period, the Bears extended their lead. Downie launched a pass to Steven at centre ice, who chipped the puck ahead to Landa.
Landa took the open path to the net and fired high-glove past Trnka for his sixth marker this season and sixth straight game with a goal.
Adelaide pushed back, manufactured its first period of sustained zone time a couple of minutes later, and finally found a way past Downie.
Adelaide got to a loose puck between the circles, Ben Handberg spun to generate a shot-pass which took Downie out of position, and Daniel O’Handley intercepted the puck and put it through Downie’s wickets to make it a 4-1 game.
However, the Bears continued to push the game, and Adelaide’s frustration boiled over halfway through the period. Ellesse Carini gained the zone, and Daniel O’Handley charged towards him and launched Carini into the boards.
Jeremy Brücker raced in to support his linemate and was cross-checked in the back by Handberg. Noah Moncrieff made his presence felt in the ensuing fracas.
The referees convened and sent Moncrieff to the box for boarding and Handberg for roughing. Daniel O’Handley could have been called for charging, cross-checking, boarding, or roughing for his hit on Carini; the referees settled on a boarding call.
Adelaide killed off the penalty and earned a powerplay when Pappalardo went to the box for hooking. As the powerplay was about to expire, the Bears broke up ice through Landa.
Boyle jumped up to cut off Landa in the neutral zone, leaving Cowans behind him all alone. Landa made the pass to Cowans, who sped in alone on Trnka, faked a shot and used some excellent edgework to move to the right of the goal and lift the puck over Trnka.
Downie continued to demonstrate his value with a pair of sharp saves against Steve Best to close out the period.
Ace Cowans scored his second of the game on the counter courtesy of some good passing between him and Steven.
Cowans used his speed to burst down the right wing, burned Freeman, and fired from the circle to beat Trnka blocker side to move the score to 6-1.
With the game won, Coach Kuprowsky pulled James Downie and gave Justin Harrison his first minutes of the season with just over half the period remaining.
Harrison was called into action soon after, denying Tyler Leeming from the right circle with a good pad save.
With Landa in the penalty box for slashing, the Adrenaline powerplay went to work again and finally broke through. Julian Friederich was on the doorstep for a rebound, and although it appeared there was a definite kicking motion, the referees awarded the goal.
Friederich’s exuberant celly would have been fitting for an overtime game-winning goal. His goal cut the Bear’s lead to 6-2.
Scores remained unchanged for the final few minutes until the final buzzer sounded.
All three new signings for the Bears had good games. James Downie made 19 saves on 20 shots for a .950 save percentage and secured the win.
Pappalardo picked up a powerplay goal. And Hayden Dawes started on the third line but made his way up to Pappalardo’s line by the second period.
A sterner test awaits the Bears this weekend as the Perth Thunder visit Macquarie Ice Rink this Saturday, June 10, for the first of two games over two weekends.
Get your tickets and get behind the team against a conference rival and playoff contender. Doors open at 4:30 pm, and puck drop is at 5:00 pm
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