SYDNEY BEARS (2-3-2-3) at SYDNEY ICE DOGS (4-5-0-0)
The Sydney Bears will no doubt be hoping to avenge their 1-0 loss in the first 'Battle of Sydney' on opening night this season. They come into the game on the back of a miserable weekend in Melbourne, where they only took one point home despite leading both games against the Mustangs.
For the Sydney Ice Dogs, this game offers rewards beyond just simple bragging rights. It's offers a chance to climb back into the top four on the ladder and re-focus on their push towards the finals after a pair of losses to the CBR Brave.
BEARS’ KEYS TO VICTORY
TEMPERS UNDER CONTROL: The 'Battle of Sydney' always seems to bring out the worst of both sides' temperemant. Given they arguably lost their games with the Mustangs as a result of piling up too many penalties, this is something the Bears need to watch out for.
PLAY PHYSICAL: The Ice Dogs are known for the physicality they bring, the Bears have plenty of heavy bodies that can play into the same style. They need to ensure they either commit to playing the Dogs at their own game or avoid the real rough stuff altogether.
AIM HIGH: Ketlo, in the Dogs' net was inpenetrable last time these two sides met. The Sydney Bears should be targetting the higher reaches of the net to challenge the netminder. Going low didn't work first time out, so it's unlikely it'll work again this time.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Vlad Rubes (Forward) – Whilst he hasn't played in every game for the Sydney Bears this season, Vlad brings a huge amount of experience to the ice when he does play. The Czech-born forward has a remarkable record in the league, notching his 400th point against the Newcastle Northstars earlier this year. His return to the lineup should add a level of grit that will be much needed against the rough-and-tumble play of the Ice Dogs.
LAST TIME OUT
April 22 - Ice Dogs 1 at Bears 0
Stephen Johnston score what proved to be the game winning goal on a shorthanded breakaway in the Bears' first game back at Macquarie Ice Rink. There was great physicality on show which inevitably led to plenty of time spent in the box for both sides. Despite a fightback in the third period, the Bears couldn't find a way past Damien Ketlo on debut for their opposition.
The Ice Dogs have a relatively similar record to the Bears this season, albeit they've only dealt in regulation wins and regulation losses. The Bears, on the flip of that have seen shoot-out results far more often. They found themselves on the wrong side of a pair of losses to the CBR Brave most recently.
Damien Ketlo has proven the backbone to the team, ranking highly on the goaltending chart across the league. He has been assisted by the strong attacking form of import, Rory Rawlyk (4G, 6A) and returning local, David Upton (1G, 10A) in ensuring that the Dogs have found a comfortable mid-table placement.
Sydney Bears' veteran forward Vlad Rubes was the head coach of the Sydney Ice Dogs for the 2016 AIHL season. That year saw Billy Cliff and Brian Funes also swap sides, heading to the Sydney Bears.
Funes remains with the team, but Cliff has since returned to the Ice Dogs, ensuring that there is at least some level of personal animosity in this derby.
Photo Credit: Peter Podlaha
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