Happy Canada Day to all of our Canadian fans! What better way to celebrate than with some quality ice hockey games and a teddy bear toss to support a great cause?
Both Melbourne teams come to town this weekend in a testing weekend for the Bears. First up, the high-scoring Melbourne Ice will look to test one of the league's best defensive teams on Saturday. Then on Sunday, the Melbourne Mustangs will try to even the season series in a top-of-the-conference clash.
Melbourne Ice - Saturday, July 1 5 pm at Macquarie Ice Rink (click here for tickets)
Is there anything more Canadian than watching ice hockey on Canada Day and celebrating with a teddy bear toss to support a great cause? The Sydney Bears are proud to partner with Weave Community and Youth Services and help them raise funds to assist women, children and young people through complex situations and give them the tools to change their lives.
You can either buy a Sydney Bears teddy bear online and collect it at the rink or bring a new teddy bear to toss on the ice when the Bears score their first goal of the game.
Also, the team will wear special Canada Day jerseys that will be auctioned off after the game, so stay tuned to our social accounts for details on how you can get your hands on some awesome game-worn merch and support the club.
The Bears have defeated the Ice in both encounters this season, a 7-4 victory at Macquarie, followed by a 7-3 win in Melbourne. However, Melbourne has added some big weapons since those encounters, including forward Chris Schutz, who has scored 39 points in just ten games, including a ten-point game last month.
Since the Bears last played the Ice, the Bears have gone 4-2-0-0, picking up big wins against the Mustangs, Brave, Adrenaline and Lightning but falling twice to the Thunder. The Ice have gone 5-5-0-0, scoring a whopping 75 goals at an average of 7.5 per game.
Anthony Kimlin will be the last line of defence for the Bears this weekend. He returned last week against the Lightning and was a key reason the team left Boondall with all three points in a 4-2 victory.
Kimlin will enter the contest with the league's best save percentage, a blistering .933, and the lowest Goals Against Average (GAA), a stingy 2.38. Backup James Downie sits sixth and fourth leaguewide in those categories.
Melbourne Mustangs - Sunday, July 2 5 pm at Macquarie Ice Rink (click here for tickets)
After the Bears were deducted three competition points for a clerical error, the Mustangs leapfrogged the Bears to take the top spot in the Hellyer Conference. The Bears are a single point behind the Mustangs and hold a game in hand entering the weekend.
Sunday's clash is huge, especially as the league announced the finals format earlier this week.
The second-placed team in each conference will battle the third-placed team in the opposite conference in the first weekend of finals. Meanwhile, the top team in each conference will have a bye for that first weekend of finals, allowing tired and injured bodies further time to heal for the Goodall Cup push.
The Mustangs and Bears have faced each other just once this season, a 3-1 victory for the Bears in Melbourne back in May.
Sydney has gone 3-2-0-0 since that encounter, while Melbourne has collected a 4-2-1-0 record. The Mustangs survived a scare last weekend, eking out a 4-3 win over the Rhinos at O-Brien; goaltender Sebastian Woodlands earned Skater's Network AIHL Local Player of the Week honours.
Like the Ice, the Mustangs have huge offensive threats, including AIHL points leader Scott Timmins. The Bears will need to play a full 60 minutes of hockey and work as a group to take the points and wrest back control of the top spot.
Make sure you're there to support the team, support a great cause, and cheer the team on to victory this weekend. Doors open at 4:30 pm, and puck drop is at 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday. Happy Canada Day, and see you at the rink!
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