Same same, but different.
That’s the 2018 SHL semi-final playoffs, compared to the 2017 SHL semi-final playoffs. The seedings were different last year, it was: Sukhumvit, Titanium-Sport Corner (now Expedia), AWARE and Hooters Nana (now Hertz), in that order.
But the match-ups are the same this year with number-one seed AWARE playing fourth-seeded Expedia and number-two seed Sukhumvit playing number-three seed Hertz.
Game one saw an equal number of shots fired on both goalkeepers (29) with a 6-1 outcome in AWARE’s favour. Expedia’s goalie Yves Gaboriault has been fighting the puck of a late and it’s tough for all concerned as last year while playing for AWARE Yves won the SHL’s version of the Vezina Trophy, by posting the league’s best goals-against-average. This year, he has lost his confidence and AWARE took full advantage jumping into a 4-0 first-period lead, led by Oliver Moyse’s hat-trick and a single by Mangkorn Sukwiboon. They added a shorthanded goal by Jouni Heinonen in the second and an even-strength tally by Devin Michael early in the third to take a 6-0 lead before Win Khuhakaew broke Patrick Leduc’s shut-out bid with sixteen minutes left in the game.
It was Oliver Moyse night as everything he touched turned to gold, earning him the Rolling Stone Pizza player of the game honours; the first goal even went off his shin pad past Gaboriault.
Hertz owned game two from the get-go: they had more energy, continually beat Sukhumvit to the puck and their players were simply hungrier—they wanted it more. After first period goals by Brandon Vick and Bill Bredesen, both assisted by Hertz captain Justin St Denis, they added an empty-netter by Moo Tengsakul from Mike Triacca with 1:47 on the clock to seal the win.
Parker stopped all 27 of the shots he faced in earning the playoff shut-out and the Rolling Stone Pizza player of the game. He looked like the Lance Parker of the previous year, when he led Sukhumvit to seven straight wins and the 2016-17 regular season championship. As always, Dream Ungkulpattanasuk was amazing stopping 36 of the shots sent his way and he certainly couldn’t be faulted on the two hard-earned and one empty-net markers from Hertz.
Indeed, it was a strange game for a few as the Spitfires’ Michael White and Dream were mainstays of the Hooters Nana team that upset the league-leading Spitfires in last year’s semi-final, while Parker was the Sukhumvit goalie they beat.
So, Oliver Moyse leads the early playoff scoring race with his three goals followed by teammates Mangkorn Sukwiboon & Devim Michael with a goal and an assist each. Hertz’s Justin St Denis sits in third spot with two assists.
The second games in these best-of-three SHL semi-final playoffs series will be played Sunday March 4th with Hertz playing Sukhumvit at 8:30pm and AWARE playing Expedia at 9:30pm. Expedia and Sukhumvit must win or their seasons are over. Admission is free and the 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.