The CBR Brave and Sydney Bears face-off this weekend for the final time in the 2023 AIHL regular season. Sydney can complete the series sweep with a win in the capital on Saturday.
Last time the two rivals met on April 23, the Brave iced an understrength lineup, and were exposed on the capacious surface at Macquarie. The Bears secured an 8-2 victory powered by last week’s Skater’s Network AIHL Player of the Week, Tommy Steven.
Steven nabbed a hat-trick, Ryan Annesley added two goals from the blueline, and Noah Moncrieff, Tyerell Clare, and Ellesse Carini all tallied for the Bears. Mitchell Henning and Joseph Maatouk scored for the Brave.
Since that game, Sydney has gone 5-1, and finds itself with a .889 win percentage, a four point league lead, and a seven point lead in the Hellyer Conference. CBR has gone 4-0-1, losing to the Mustangs in a shootout, and has the second-best win percentage in the league at .750.
The Bears are the last team to beat the Brave in Canberra, winning 8-7 in a shootout on May 29 last year. Sydney has picked up maximum points on the road this season, winning all four games in regulation.
The Brave have only played two games at home this season, and are yet to lose, beating the Ice Dogs in overtime, and the Northstars in regulation. Something must give between the two teams.
Both teams will be keeping an eye on the Brisbane Lightning vs Newcastle Northstars doubleheader at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium. The Brave trail the Lightning by two points, so a win, paired with two Lightning regulation losses, would see the Brave go top of the conference.
Meanwhile, if Brisbane win both matchups against Newcastle, the Bears must beat the Brave to remain top of the league, although they will have two games in hand on Brisbane after this weekend.
The Brave and Bears have received elite goaltending this season, and the battle between the pipes will be an intriguing one to watch on Saturday.
Anthony Kimlin, who returned from national team duty following the last Bears v Brave clash, has an impressive .928 save percentage. That is good enough for second in the league; Brave netminder Aleksi Toivonen has a .929 save percentage for first overall.
Special teams could be a factor, and the two teams are close; however, the Bears have a slight edge with a combined percentage of 105% (82% penalty kill + 23% powerplay). The Brave have a special team’s percentage of 98.7% (86.2% penalty kill + 12.5% powerplay).
Bears’ fans will be keen to see the top-line of Joshua Lammon, Tommy Steven, and Ace Cowans continue to develop chemistry. Tommy Steven has scored in every Bears’ game this season.
Tomas Landa also has a four-game goal-scoring streak of his own, the 39-year-old from Kladno, Czechia has shown no signs of slowing down, providing vital offense from the second line.
If you’re not able to get to Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre to support the team, you can watch the game on AIHL TV. Puck drop is at 5:15 pm on Saturday. The Bears’ social media accounts will also provide updates throughout the game.The Bears' 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!
Comments will be approved before showing up.