The Sydney Bears will receive a massive boost in their push for the top spot in the Hellyer Conference this weekend. On Saturday, Captain Ryan Annesley will return for the Sydney Derby and then on Sunday at Erina against the Central Coast Rhinos.
Annesley hasn’t suited up for the team since April 29. Saturday’s game against the Ice Dogs will mark exactly three months since he has been out of the lineup.
"It's been a long time coming," Annesley said. "I can't wait to get back on the ice with our squad who have been playing fantastic all year. I'll be shaking the rust off and I'm looking forward to contribute any way I can."
The timing of the captain’s return could not be better for the Bears. Sydney has six games remaining in the season and trails the Melbourne Mustangs by four points.
The Bears have three games in hand, meaning the team controls its fate; however, the Mustangs have a comparatively easy schedule, so the Bears will likely need to win five of their remaining six games to be assured top spot in the Hellyer Conference.
According to Annesley, "The most important thing is to not get caught up in the overall standings and games, but to take it one game at a time."
The tough run could prove beneficial to the team. "It's something we're happy with," Annesley noted, referring to the tough schedule. "It's a good final tune-up heading into Finals."
Annesley enjoyed the time behind the bench, and the greater opportunities it afforded to interact with the players, but he is eager to contribute for the club on the ice in the stretch run.
The run starts this weekend with games against the Ice Dogs and Rhinos on the docket.
Saturday – Sydney Ice Dogs 5 pm at Macquarie Ice Rink (Bears Home Game – click here for tickets)
The Bears have feasted on the Ice Dogs this season, with victories of 6-3, 6-2, and 7-1, highlighting the differences between the Goodall Cup contending Bears and rebuilding Ice Dogs.
The Ice Dogs are in the midst of a six-game losing skid and will be desperate to give their fans reasons for optimism in the twilight of the regular season.
Imports Grant Toulmin and Brandon Egli have stood out for the Ice Dogs offensively this season. However, they, and the rest of the Ice Dogs’ lineup, will need to find a way to solve Bears’ netminder Anthony Kimlin.
Kimlin leads the league with a sparkling .930 save percentage. He is coming off a pair of victories last weekend, including a 4-2 victory over the Mustangs.
Kimlin then entered the game against the Melbourne Ice in the final period with the team trailing 5-7 and stopped all seven shots as the team recovered to collect a 9-7 victory.
The Bears are also proud to partner with Gotcha4Life, a not-for-profit organisation building more mentally fit communities through preventative mental health programs and campaigns.
Special Gotcha4Life Sydney Bears game pucks will be available for sale at the game, with 100% of profits going to support Gotcha4Life. 10% of all ticket sales from the game will be donated, along with the clubs’ portion of the 50/50 raffle.
Support the team, and a great cause, by buying your tickets for the game. The game will be the Bears’ penultimate home game of the season, and the Sydney Derby always brings a fantastic atmosphere.
Sunday – Central Coast Rhinos 3:30 pm at Erina Ice Arena (Rhinos Home Game)
Following Saturday’s game, the team travels north to take on the Central Coast Rhinos at Erina. The Rhinos have struggled to collect points this season but are a vastly improved outfit from the season’s commencement.
While the Rhinos are amid an eight-game losing streak, the team has looked dangerous against contending teams, such as the Mustangs, whom they narrowly lost on two occasions – 9-7 and 4-3.
The last time these two teams met, on May 14 at Macquarie, the Rhinos entered the third period tied 2-2 before the Bears pulled away with a 5-2 victory.
On that occasion, the Bears held a penalty box parade, giving the Rhinos’ powerplay plenty of practice. The Bears will no doubt be looking to maintain discipline and limit the dangerous Rhinos powerplay from impacting the game.
Contributions from import Joakim Erdugan and captain Robert Malloy have been vital for the Rhinos. The pair are averaging more than two points per game and are proven game breakers.
Meanwhile, for the Bears, Joshua Lammon is on a hot streak, contributing seven goals in the last six games, and Jake Pappalardo snapped a five-game goalless streak with a pair of goals against the Ice.
Tommy Steven leads the team with 22 goals for the season, including eight in his last six games. Topping them all, veteran forward Tomas Landa has lit the lamp nine times (!) in his last five appearances.Thank you for supporting the team during the stretch run towards the Goodall Cup, and see you at the rink!
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