A rough and ready start proved a big challenge for the Bears. It was apparent almost immediately that both teams were going hard in the aggression and intensity stakes, with neither side holding back on their checks and hits.
Unfortunately, the high intensity was always going to lead to a penalty call and it was Bears’ veteran Adrian Esposito sent to the box early on for cross-checking. That first penalty kill didn’t quite go to plan for the Sydney team as Stephen Blunden was able to get his stick on Dominic Jalbert’s point shot, redirecting it past Anthony Kimlin and into the net.
Weathering the storm proves vital. This season, in their games against the Ice Dogs and Thunder, the Bears have demonstrated that they’re more than able to weather the storm. This proved the case against the Brave, especially given the firepower the Canberra side had brought to their previous games.
The Bears’ defence performed valiantly, getting sticks in shooting and passing lanes on multiple penalty kills and willingly throwing their bodies down to ensure the Brave didn’t take a two goal lead. Despite Kimlin facing twelve shots in the first period, the Bears were able to limit Canberra to shooting from the wing and blue line, halting any clear-cut through the middle chances.
Penalties continue to tally in the third. While the second period continued to prove physical, the third period saw this pushed to the next level. Early penalty calls against Brian Funes and Canberra’s James Byers really set the tone, as a steady stream of players followed them to the box.
Not least, Bears’ new import Tyler Noseworthy and young gun Tyerell Clare, believed their opposition took liberties on their goaltender, and found themselves sidelined for roughing after two separate scuffles with Canberra players.
Momentum shifts as Bears’ battle back. A clear momentum shift seemed to occur after the first scuffle, with the Sydney team steaming into the offensive zone; Tomas Landa firing a bullet on the back of a Michael Schlamp assist. Try as they might, the Canberra side weren’t able to get back ahead from that point, despite sending shot after shot at the Bears’ goaltender.
Landa repays the favour six minutes later. After scoring the game equaliser, Landa went on to repay the assist on his goal, setting up the Bears’ captain for what proved the game-winning goal, after some impressive back-and-forth action.
The Bears’ showed incredible grit from here on out to hold a surging Brave from netting a second, a feat no team has achieved yet this season. They even fought through another penalty kill, meaning that by the games’ conclusion, they had managed to defend five out of the six powerplay opportunities gifted to the Canberra team.
With just over a minute remaining, the victors were finally in no doubt as Jeremy Brücker netted his first goal for the team, unassisted to give the Bears a third goal in the period and seal a fantastic 3-1 win; their first regulation win since returning to the Macquarie Ice Rink.
The result should hopefully give the Sydney Bears’ plenty of momentum in the league, proving they can stand up to one of the strongest attacking teams and hold them to one goal, whilst also managing to get the offensive side of their game going.
Photo Credit: Peter Podlala
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