Hertz Eliminate the Sukhumvit Spitfires
The Sukhumvit Spitfires looked to tie things up with Hertz as they entered the arena for the second game of the playoffs.
The action in the first was fast paced in this in one with both teams connecting on a few stretch passes, but neither team could seize an early opportunity. With under seven minutes left in the first period, Harrison Oztemel scored his first goal of the night to give the Spitfires the lead. Just over 2 minutes later saw Oztemel score his second goal of the night to put close out the first period with the Spitfires up 2-0.
Hertz started their comeback in the second period with Justin St. Denis scoring a goal after exiting the penalty box. St. Denis scored his second four minutes later when he received a pass from Brandon Vick to tie things up. In the closing minutes of the second period, Bill Bredesen is called for hooking, but Hertz stayed strong and controlled the power play. 15 seconds into the penalty saw Andy Brine take a pass from Kim Lidberg and clear the zone with knuckle ball of a shot causing the puck to curve and bounce funny and to get past the Spitfires netminder, Pattarapol “Dream” Ungkulpattanasuk, to put Hertz in the lead.
The Spitfires tied things up again in the third when Chaval “Richie” Jiaravanon stole the puck and scored an unassisted goal with just over nine minutes left in the third period, but just 3 minutes later had Brandon Vick of Hertz scored the go-ahead goal with St. Denis getting his third point with the contributor to Vick. With just two minutes left in the game, the Spitfires pulled Ungkulpattanasuk to try to score a quick goal to tie things up, but Bredesen caught a stretch pass from Brine and send the puck the rest of the way down to score an empty netter. The Spitfires pulled their goaltender again, but with two seconds left on the clock Chanchit “Champ” Supadiokluk saw Kim Lidberg outside the zone and sent the puck to Lidberg who relayed it down the ice for another empty netter to seal the semi-finals for Hertz. The final score of the game was 6-3 Hertz with Hertz also dominating in shots 38-25.
AWARE claims birth in SHL final with win over EXPEDIA
There was a sense of nervousness in the air before puck-drop in semi-final two between AWARE and EXPEDIA. The team in black uniforms facing elimination, while the team in red looked to overcome last year’s disappointing early exit.
AWARE Captain, Patrik Lundback, opted to not pick up any subs despite missing team leading scorer Devin Michael and rookie sensation Phu Suwachirat. EXPEDIA, struggling to dress a full team all season, were without John Schachnovsky, speedy youngster Win, recently injured Pratch and steady defenseman First; picking up a high-quality sub in Patrik Forstner to try to level the playfield.
EXPEDIA came out of the gate flying, pressuring Ollie Moyse to take a delay-of-game penalty trying to clear the puck out of his own zone in the first minute of the game. EXPEDIA’s number-one PP unit is impressive and it took just 4 seconds before Juhani Iljas made AWARE pay on the man advantage. AWARE somehow managed to survive just surrendering one goal in the first period, a frame where they were severely outplayed at times. The first seeded AWARE team played better in the middle period and went quickly up to 3-1 with goals from Ryan Yaden, Patrik Lundback and Corry Day. EXPEDIA continued to press and led the shots-on-net also entering the last period, forcing Patrick Leduc to make several key saves, but also pushing AWARE to take penalties. The pressure from EXPEIDA continued to start the third period, with David Boere of AWARE in the box for hooking. A flurry of good chances and near misses finally led to Rob Taylor and Juhani Iljas setting up Patrik Forstner in the dying seconds of the penalty to cut the AWARE lead to 3-2.
But that is as close as the EXPEDIA team would get to even the semifinal best-of-tree series. Superb AWARE goalie Patrik Leduc shut the door and hard-shooting defenseman Yean Thanakroekkiat sealed the victory with 2 goals in the third for a 5-2 final; Yean’s last goal was an empty-netter with 30 seconds left on the clock. AWARE thereby punch their ticket to the SHL final on March 17th, where they will face off against HERTZ in a winner-takes-all showdown.
Corry day had another strong outing, scoring a nice breakaway goal and adding one assist earning him the Rolling Stone Pizza player of the game honours; although he, in a nice gesture after the game, gave his award to solid net minder Patrick Leduc for his work between the pipes.
Yves Gaboriault stopped 16 of the shots he faced for EXPEDIA. As always, Patrik Leduc was amazing stopping 28 of the shots sent his way and he certainly couldn’t be faulted on the two hard-earned Power Play markers.
The SHL final will be played Saturday March 17th. Please note the early game start 7:15pm. Immediately followed by a league party and fun festivities. Admission is free and the game takes 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.