Weekend Review: Bears Sweep Weekend

April 24, 2023

Weekend Review: Bears Sweep Weekend

The Sydney Bears fought through adversity and stunned the Adelaide Adrenaline on Saturday, recovering from a 0-3 deficit to win 6-3.

The boutique, rustic confines of Adelaide Ice ArenA present a unique challenge to visitors, and Adelaide scored early. The goal came against the run of play, as the Bears had chances but couldn’t solve Adrenaline netminder Jeremy Friederich.

Darcy Walsh won a battle against the boards in the neutral zone and got the puck to a streaking Andrew Hamilton. The tall Canadian import wired a wrister from the left circle that eluded Dane Brumm’s glove far-side and found the net.

After a lengthy discussion amongst the referees, and with Shawn Rooke already in the box for cross-checking, Brian Funes was called for a marginal delay of game penalty.

After a Bears clearance, Walsh gained the zone with speed and put Leeming in all alone on Brumm. Leeming went backhand-forehand and chipped the puck glove-side.

As time expired on the final Bears’ penalty, Daniel Chen moved the puck across the zone to Steve Best on the half-wall, who passed to Zachary Steele on the blue line. Steele corralled the puck and wristed through a screen glove side.

With Adelaide up 3-0 less than halfway through the first period, Bears’ Head Coach Ron Kuprowsky called a timeout to settle the squad.

Bears' Captain Ryan Annesley said that the message was, “Let’s get back to Bears hockey. We knew they were going to come out strong, it was their home opener, they hadn’t played in the AIHL for a year, plus COVID years. It [the message] was trust in our process, trust in our team.”

A hooking call two minutes later to Adelaide sent Josh Bortignon to the box, and Sydney’s powerplay went to work for the first time in the contest.

Special teams were a focus in training midweek, and good movement down low got the Bears on the board. Cowans moved from behind the net to the half-wall, passed to Steven, got the puck back in the slot and shovelled it past Friederich.

With just over two minutes left in the first, an aggressive Cowans forecheck behind the net led to a fortunate bounce for the Bears. Hayashi was first to the puck between the hash marks and tucked it blocker-side.

The line of Hayashi, Cowans, and Steven was double-shifted throughout the match, and they restored parity just six seconds later.

Adelaide won the faceoff, but Steven jumped up and stole the drop pass from Steele. He entered the zone on a two-on-one from the right wing and sizzled a wrister over Friederich’s glove and into the top-left corner.

In the second period, on another powerplay, Sydney took its first lead of the game. Schlamp stopped the puck from exiting the zone along the wall and across to Ryan Annesley. One of the Adrenaline penalty killers lost an edge, and Annesley used the space to walk in and fire a shot low blocker.

“It’s always nice when you can contribute on the scoresheet,” Annesley said.

He was pleased to get his first goal of the season. “Fortunately we got a five-on-three and there was a bit of a lane there, so I got a little extra room to let the muffin go. It was nice for sure.”

Five minutes later, Lukas Vaic doubled the lead with a deft tip off another Annesley shot from the point. Michael Schlamp finished the scoring early in the third period with a smooth finish off a perfect Tyerell Clare pass from behind the net.

Goaltender Dane Brumm was excellent throughout the match and a big reason why the Bears returned home with the victory. His rebound control was excellent, and all six defencemen for the Bears did a good job clearing out the net front.

The key, according to Brumm, was to “have a short memory. The boys went down early, but it’s been great having the support of the boys while I adjust to the new league. They didn’t let up, so I didn’t let up either.”

The Bears delighted the home fans at Macquarie Ice Rink on Sunday with an 8-2 annihilation of the CBR Brave. Thomas Steven notched a hat-trick, Ryan Annesley scored two goals, and Ellesse Carini, Noah Moncrieff, and Tyerell Clare each tallied a marker for the Bears. Joseph Maatouk and Mitchell Henning found the net for the Brave.

Sydney was buoyed by the crowd in its home opener and pressured the Brave immediately. Brave netminder Alex Tetreault weathered the attack until just over eight minutes into the game.

The Brave won an offensive zone faceoff and tried to get a shot through traffic. Annesley blocked the shot and passed the puck to Carini in one motion to initiate the breakout and a three-on-one opportunity. Carini sped down the right wing and shot far-side past Tetreault’s blocker.

Another breakout play led to the Bears’ second goal. Michael Schlamp won the puck in the defensive zone and fed Jeremy Brücker. Brücker gained the offensive zone, skated to the left faceoff circle and set up the trailer, Annesley. Annesley forced Tetreault to overcommit and outwaited him, gliding cross-crease before sliding a backhand into the net around the sprawling Tetreault.

It was one of the prettiest goals of the season and an early contender for goal of the year.

“Great play by Brucksy [Jeremy Brücker],” Annesley observed, “great drop pass; it really opened everything up. Pucks were bouncing a little bit tonight, so instead of shooting right away, I figured I’d hold onto it, and fortunately, it worked out. It’s not always that pretty, that’s for sure.”

Annesley added a second before the period ended to give the Bears a 3-0 advantage, and the Brave were reeling.

The situation did not improve for the Brave in the second period. Shortly after killing a penalty, Noah Moncrieff scored his first of the season with a snipe from the left faceoff circle over Tetreault’s glove to make it 4-0.

34 seconds later, Tetreault was digging the puck out of his net. Kenshin Hayashi passed from behind the net to Thomas Steven, who was alone in front. Steven made no mistake in tucking it past Tetreault.

Steven doubled his tally before the period ended with a laser from between the circles, and the rout was on.

The Brave finally found the scoresheet late in the period as Joseph Maatouk got to a loose puck on the edge of the crease and shovelled it over Brumm. It ended a run of 12 consecutive goals without conceding for the Bears over the weekend.

Aleksi Toivonen took the Brave crease in the third, and the Bears put one past him five minutes into the final frame. Tyerell Clare scored the goal after a Joey Gunner drop pass set him up in the slot.

Mitchell Henning pulled one back for the visitors with a short-side wrister from in tight, but the Bears had the last laugh when Steven completed his hat-trick off a fine cross-crease feed from Clare to make it 8-2.

Notes and Quotes
The evergreen Michael Schlamp has been phenomenal in his return to the Bears thus far. The 42-year-old Canadian from Regina, Saskatchewan, has tallied a goal and six assists for seven points in three games.

“I can’t say enough about Schlampy,” Annesley commented, “both on the ice and in the dressing room. It’s so nice to have him back. I can’t say enough good things, and we’re super pumped to have number 11 back with us again this year for sure.”

The team was thrilled at the support from the fans at the team’s home opener and wanted to thank the fans for their support.

“It was a great experience,” Brumm said. “I’m glad we got a good crowd out to support us. We’ve got a good group of guys, we’re aiming for a good season, so it’s nice to have a win in our first [home] game for the fans.”

Annesley also commented on the great atmosphere. “We always draw well against Canberra, it’s a bit of a rivalry that we’ve had going since 2018. So we love to see the support and hopefully, some new blood out there that will come back and enjoy the experience again.”

Sydney’s weekend sweep puts the Bears on top of the AIHL and Hellyer Conference standings with a perfect 3-0 record. The Melbourne Mustangs are the only other team with a 100% record; however, they have played one less game than the Bears.

Keep an eye out on our socials for player import announcements. Anthony Kimlin, Tomas Landa, and Tommy Newmark have been representing Australia in Spain at the IIHF Men’s World Championships and will also join the team shortly.

In addition to our weekend preview and recap articles, throughout the season we will provide player feature articles on our website. We chatted with one of our imports who has made an immediate impact, Ace Cowans. Stay tuned for that article later this week.

The Bears return to action this Saturday at 5 pm, hosting the Newcastle Northstars at Macquarie Ice Rink. Get your tickets to the game by clicking here, or select one of our membership options here.

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