Thursday January 18th saw the eleventh set of games played in the Sport Corner Siam Hockey League. The opening contest saw AWARE continue its dominance beating Expedia 7-3, while the Sukhumvit Spitfires hung on to defeat Hertz 7-6 in the thrilling second match of the night.
AWARE continues to look like a juggernaut, winning its sixth straight game, as we head towards the SHL championship on March 17th. Switching back to Patrick Leduc, who had yet to lose a game in the SHL, AWARE jumped out to a 3-0 lead on a goal by captain Patrik Lundback and two nice markers by Darius Konotopetz, the second being a nifty rush in from the blue line with a sweet top-shelf finish.
Expedia’s Juhani Ijas then scored the first of his two goals on the night but AWARE’s Corry Day quickly countered using his Roadrunner-like speed to mystify Expedia keeper Yves Gaboriault, making it 4-1. It was Gaboriault’s first start in 2018, and he looked a tad shaky, but the talented Quebecois goalie should soon regain the form that saw him garner SHL goalie-of-the-year honors last season.
AWARE’s Ollie Moyse made it 5-1 but Ijas then scored his second of the night, so at end of the second period the score was 5-2 for AWARE. Yean Thanakroekkiat scored two goals in the third, lengthening AWARE’s lead to 7-2, then sub Stephen Sproule scored for Expedia with 90 seconds to go to make it a 7-3 final in AWARE’s favour: Ijas assisted on the play, giving him three points on the night.
The game was chippy at times but referee Jeremy Hutchins did a good job of keeping it under control. Midway through the second period, Expedia defenseman Remo Remo Nyffenegger took his second hooking penalty of the night. Objecting to the call, he pounded his stick first off the glass in front of the penalty box and then off-the-glass inside the penalty box drawing first a ten-minute and then a game misconduct.
Then as the second period ended Expedia captain Mike Wilson earned a roughing penalty. Irate, he mimicked Nyffenegger’s actions drawing his own 10-minute misconduct.
Yean, who also had two assists on the night, earned the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game honours for his four-point performance. AWARE had 25 shots on goal on the night, while Expedia had 21.
The second game was a succession of momentum shifts with Hertz jumping out to a 3-1 lead at the end of the first period: Sukhumvit came back to lead 7-4 late in the third and Hertz put on a furious finish in the final minute, scoring twice and almost tying it as Andy Brine set up Hertz captain Justin St Denis with 53 seconds left and then scored himself with 23 seconds left. Brine, who had three points on the night (1G, 2A), was a force to be reckoned with every time he touched the puck. Justin St. Denis also had a big night (2g, 1A) and deserves a lot of credit for rallying his troops in the final second as Hertz fought for the equalizer.
Harrison Oztemel had two goals and an assist for Sukhumvit, turning in another strong game, and Michael White continued his stellar play, turning in three assists. White has been exceptional in the short time he had been with Sukhumvit, generating scoring play after scoring play in each game he has played.
Substitute Patrick Forstner won the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game honours for his hat-trick performance, as his line with White and veteran Scott Murray did a good job of playing tic-tac-toe with the puck. Sukhumvit outshot Hertz 34-27 on the night.
The SHL standings have AWARE atop the table with an 9-2 record; the Sukhumvit Spitfires are in second spot at 6-5; Expedia is in third with a 4-7 mark; and Hertz is in last with a 3- 8 record.
Expedia’s Juhani Ijas and Hertz’s Andy Brine lead the stats race with 15 points each; AWARE’s Devin Michael is in second spot with 12 points and Expedia’s Jordan Ashton and Hertz’s Bill Bredesen are tied for third with 10 points each.
The SHL continues play on Sunday January 21st with Hertz playing AWARE at 8:30pm and Expedia playing Sukhumvit at 9:30. Admission is free and all games take place at the Rink, 7th floor, Central Grand Rama IX.
For more information on the SHL check out Dom Dumais great podcasts and interviews with SHL players.