Sydney Bears pocket points as big test looms ahead

April 23, 2024

Sydney Bears pocket points as big test looms ahead

The Sydney Bears secured six big points over the weekend, downing the Ice Dogs in the Sydney derby Friday night 9-2, and then coming from behind four times to defeat the chippy Central Coast Rhinos 8-4. Pocketing the points was crucial ahead of a tough trip to Melbourne this coming weekend.

Here are four takeaways from the weekend's action.

Photo Credit: Andrew Bourne (Shot by Bourne)

Five Star Noah Moncrieff

While the Bears have traditionally been a team reliant on veterans, some younger players are receiving opportunities to shine under new head coach Tyler Huberty.

One player who has been given increased opportunities and is thriving is 21-year-old Noah Moncrieff. Huberty has spoken about how impressed he has been with Moncrieff's skill and tenacity in the dirty areas.

All of this has led to a flurry of goals for Moncrieff, who has scored in three of the Bears' four games this season. Moncrieff feasted on opportunities across the weekend, putting up five goals across the two games, which included his first career hat-trick in the AIHL against the Ice Dogs Friday night.

It's early days, but Moncrieff has scored more goals in just four games this season (6) than he scored in 45 games across his previous two seasons (4).

Photo Credit: Andrew Bourne (Shot by Bourne)

Young Guns Firing

22-year-old forward Taegan Rippon recorded his first career AIHL goal on Friday night in his 28th appearance across four seasons. The very next day, Rippon recorded his first ever assist on a Thomas Moncrieff goal.

18-year-old Brody Lindal has been enjoying time in the top six, and was put on a line with imports Adam Kadlec and Samuli Vainionpää. On Saturday he scored his first two goals since joining the Bears from the Melbourne Ice in the offseason.

17-year-old Mac Tutton also moved to the Bears from the Central Coast Rhinos, and he picked up a pair of assists against his old club on Saturday. Once again, they were the first points of his AIHL career.

Eugene Ju and Tyrone Oxlade were also excellent, and are showing that not only are they a part of the Bears' future, but a big part of the present.

Photo Credit: Andrew Bourne (Shot by Bourne)

Adam Kadlec's Magnificent Seven Point Weekend

Import Adam Kadlec arrived in Sydney just hours before the season opener earlier this month. He scored in that first game and has recorded 10 points (3G, 7A) in just four games played.

This weekend Kadlec recorded a goal and assist on Friday, before adding four assists and the game winning goal on Saturday against the Rhinos.

Kadlec currently leads all Bears skaters in scoring, three points ahead of Noah Moncrieff who has seven points. He is 10th in the league in total points, and 11th when sorted by points per game.

Hockey Hype Australia interviewed Kadlec earlier this week for a feature article on his hockey journey and career punctuated by injuries. So far the import has taken hold of the opportunity to restart his career here in the Southern Hemisphere.

Photo Credit: Frank Kutsche

Special Teams are... Special?

Last year, a real bugbear for the team was its inability to convert with the man advantage. In the season opener it appeared to be déjà vu all over again, as the team went zero for seven on the powerplay.

Since that opening game, the team has scored in seven of its last 11 (63.4%) powerplay opportunities, including five of nine (55.6%) over the weekend. Across the season, including that opening game, the powerplay is ticking along at a 38.9% conversion rate.

It's refreshing to see the powerplay recognised as an area of importance under the current coaching group. The penalty kill is also perfect through four games, conceding no goals on 16 opportunities.

With a shorthanded goal to Vainionpää, the Bears' special teams advantage is +8 for the season. Maintaining a perfect penalty kill over the course of a 30 game season is unrealistic, but if the team can keep that number in the plus column and slowly increase it, they'll be in a good spot.

Up next for the Bears is a tough road trip to Melbourne to take on the defending Goodall Cup champion Melbourne Mustangs on Saturday before battling the league leading Melbourne Ice on Sunday. The Bears will need to be at their best to pocket another six from six this weekend.

This article is being published on Hockey Hype Australia and the Sydney Bears website with permission from both organisations and the author, Gordon Goodenough.

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