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Game one in SHL action on January 13th was a series of firsts as TRUE picked up their first win of the season, in the first set of games of the new year. And in his first game as a member of the TRUE squad, Patrik Forstner picked up the first hat trick of 2019. The game began like so many other games for TRUE this season, when Andy Brine scored the first goal unassisted early in the contest giving Hertz the 1-0 lead. On the next shift, Darius Konotopetz snuck the puck past the short side of goalie Lance Parker, giving Hertz the 2-0 lead. The goal was assisted by Hertz captain Justin St. Denis.
TRUE kept their heads up and two minutes later, off a drop pass from John Schachnovsky, Forstner picked up his first goal of the contest with a snipe from the top of the right circle over the shoulder of Hertz goalie Dream Ungkulpattanasuk. And with the first period still not half over, the score was 2-1. With a little under three minutes left in the first, Hertz regained the lead with a blistering slap shot from the point by Champ Supadilokluk, and the first period ended with Hertz leading 3-1.
The second period saw the game open up with six goals being scored between the two teams. Only a couple of minutes into the period, we saw a goal of the year candidate, as TRUE defenseman Alex Phelps, just back from the IR after suffering a shoulder injury in December, dished the puck to Jordan Ashton. Ashton took the puck at his own blue line and dangled around what seemed to be the entire Hertz team before he deked Dream and slid the puck five hole to cut the deficit to 3-2.
As Hertz had done in the first, they quickly regained the two-goal lead as Darius potted his second goal of the night with an impressive close range shot in the top of the net after a sweet passing sequence from Tom Price and Justin St. Denis. After a penalty called to Hertz, the TRUE power play went to work and capitalized on the man advantage with TRUE captain Mike Wilson scoring with a howitzer of a slapshot off a pass from Tan Limpinphet.
Less than two minutes later, Wilson and Schachnovsky found themselves on an odd-man rush. Wilson showed soft hands and made a perfect dish to Schachnovsky who was streaming down the middle of the ice. The pass was right on Schachnovsky’s tape and all he needed to do was tap the puck in passed a sprawling Dream. With that goal, the game was tied 4-4 with less than 4 minutes to go in the second period.
The last two minutes of the second saw feverous action, as Hertz regained the lead when Price and Brine assisted on a St. Denis goal, followed less than a minute later when Forstner picked up a pass from Ashton and the shot squeaked past Dream. This exciting game was headed to the third all square at 5-5.
The third period was much tighter, as both teams did not want to make the mistake that would give the other team the lead. It wasn’t until there was under eight minutes to play and Hertz saw themselves shorthanded for the second time, and for the second time, Tan assisted on a Mike Wilson power play goal. The final seven minutes was action-packed, with both teams getting chances, until Hertz pulled their goalie and Forstner, off a great individual effort, was able to seal the game and his hat trick with an empty net goal. Final score TRUE 7 Hertz 5.
Wilson, with two power play goals, including the game winner, and an assist, celebrated his birthday by being named the Rolling Stone Pizza Player of the game. St. Denis had four points in a losing effort and both Dream and Lance saw 31 pucks fired their way, with Lance making 26 saves and Dream making 24.
In the second game of the evening, Novotel Spitfires looked to start the year on a good note and hand AWARE their first loss of the season. But it was clear that Novotel would need a few friendly bounces to skate away with a win since big names such as Ken Kindborn, David Boere, Tommi Hakkinen, Jouni Heiononen and Scott Murray were out of the lineup.
Novotel came out of the gate hard with the newly acqured Eddie McConnell showing good speed and grit, as well as substitute Joe Komoko fairing very well in his SHL debut. But as proven many times before, a patented hard forecheck in the second minute of the game by the AWARE’s Winnie-the-Phu line (Winnie Luckanatinakorn, Phu Suwachirat and Bill Bredesen) led to a disastrous Novotel giveaway and allowed Captain Patrik Lundback to walk down the slot and fire a hard wrist shot between the wickets of Novotel goalie Yves Gaboriault.
Just a couple of shifts later, the same AWARE line exited the defensive zone and quickly made their way up the ice to put the team in red uniforms up 2-0, as Bill Bredesen found the back of the net assisted by Winnie and Phu. Novotel had a couple of chances late in the period and streaky goal scorer Corry Day potted a rebound to cut the AWARE lead in half, after good work behind the net and assists picked up by Michael White and Eddie McConnell. The first stanza came to a close with the ice slightly tilted in favor of AWARE, but Novotel still very much in the game and fueled by their most recent tally.
The second period
The third period saw plenty of good chances by both teams and entertaining hockey, but the only goal scored came from the stick of AWARE rookie-of-the-year candidate Winnie, assisted yet again by Bill Bredesen who had a solid game. Final score AWARE 7 Novotel 1, with the league leading team extending their win streak to 10 games.
Carly Hill was voted the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game for her relentless skating and tireless efforts in defending the wave after wave of AWARE forechecks and for her excellent breakouts and counter attacks.
Yves Gaboriault turned away 33 of the 40 shots he faced in the Novotel net, while Gabor Toth saved 22 of the 23 pucks fired at him between the pipes for AWARE.
SHL action resumes Sunday January 20th when TRUE tries to hand AWARE its first loss at 8:30pm and Novotel faces Hertz at 9:30pm. Admission is free and all games take place at the Rink, 7th floor, Central Grand Rama IX.