Two more cliffhangers highlight SHL parity

 

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Two one-goal games, the latter go into overtime, brought plenty of excitement to SHL action on Thursday January 24th.

Hertz’s Mangkorn Sukwiboon stretches forthe loose puck.

Two motivated teams faced off in a fast-paced tilt between AWARE and Hertz in game one. Both teams were missing some important pieces, most notably Captain Patrik Lundback for AWARE and last season’s leading point scorer Andy Brine from Hertz.

Hertz was looking to build on their emotional overtime victory last week over the Novotel Spitfires and trying to distance themselves from fourth-placed TRUE. Meanwhile, AWARE came out eager to get back in the win column, putting immediate pressure on national team goalie Dream Ungkulpattanasuk in the Hertz net. The Flying Finn Juhani Iljas, testing out new sticks for this game, fired a bullet from the point to put AWARE up 1-0 and thereby effectively endorsing his new supply of twigs. Christian Olofsson then scored for the second straight game making it 2-0 with just over three minutes left in the first period, assisted by Phu Suwachirat. However, Hertz capitalized in the final minute, when recently snake-bit Stephen Sproule cut the lead in half, set up nicely by Darius Konotopetz and Champ Supadilokluk.

AWARE scored two quick goals to start the second period; Mat Sigel made it 3-1 when he picked the top right-hand corner of the net after receiving a nice pass from Dmitrii Maslov, and then Juhani found the back of the net with another clapper from far out. However, Hertz took advantage of a lackluster AWARE backchecking in the final minute of the period to make it 4-2 as Mangkorn Sukwiboon capitalized on a half breakaway assisted by Moo Tengsakul and Ralf Dittmer.

AWARE’s Caley Steinert tries to cut between Hertz players Stephen Sproule (left) and Darius Konotopetz (right).

In the second intermission, our eminent SHL Referee-in-Chief Jeremy Hutchins pointed out that the games after the new year break has been a lot faster than the first part of the season. Bill Bredesen made it 5-2 early in the third period, assisted by Harrison Oztemel and Mat Sigel. Hertz substitute Robin Lehmann brought his team back within two, assisted by another sub Bas Tulwathana. Oztemel, AWARE’s leading point scorer, followed up on his own rebound in a display of great strength and determination to make it 6-3 halfway into the third period. There was no quitting in Hertz this evening though. With two quick tallies, it was a one-goal game again. Stephen Sproule, with his second of the night, made it 6-4 assisted by Moo Tengsakul. Darius Konotopetz then cut AWARE’s lead to one when he went bar-down on Patrick Leduc with three minutes left in the game and Hertz left it all on the ice as the clock was winding down, but AWARE held on for the win with the final score being 6-5.

AWARE defenseman Roman Larin played an inspired game and was a big part of the AWARE win and as a result he was voted the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game.

Dream turned away 28 of the 34 shots he faced in the Hertz net, while Patrick Leduc saved 21 of the 26 pucks fired at him between the pipes for AWARE.

Game two was a defensive struggle between TRUE and Novotel. Neither team could really break out, or get through the neutral zone as it was a very old school trap-style contest. Both goalies played strong games. TRUE took the early lead on a nice passing play with four minutes left in the first period as Alex Phelps passed the puck to John Schachnovsky in the neutral zone and he passed it to Patrick Fortsner who slid it to a streaking Adrian Meyers who made a nice move to get past Spitfire keeper Yves Gaboriault and score.

Novotel’s Ernesto Bauer fights for the puck with TRUE captain Mike Wilson.

The play swung back and forth until SHL scoring leader Cory Day scored his 13th goal of the season with four minutes left in the second stanza with assists going to David Boere and Michael White.

Neither team could score after that sending the game into overtime, but Novotel’s Joe Pettit took a tripping penalty with 18 seconds left in the game giving TRUE a man advantage going into extra time. TRUE swarmed the Novotel net, and though the Spitfires killed the penalty TRUE kept the pressure on and captain Mike Wilson potted the game winner from a goalmouth scramble.

TRUE has turned an eight-game losing streak into a three-game winning streak in quick order. Novotel was missing four skaters on this night, including star defenseman Ken Kindborn plus Jason Bitter, and Jouni Heinonen and Scott Murray had to leave the game early due to illness while TRUE was missing only defenseman Peter Borjesson. But penalties really hurt Novotel on this night as they took three minor penalties and Ernesto Bauer took a six-minute major penalty for kneeing Mike Wilson with a resultant game misconduct.

Novotel’s Corry Day is still leading the SHL scoring race with 23 points (13 G, 10A), while teammate Michael White, who became a father for the second time soon after the game, is in second spot with 21 points (9G, 12A) tied with AWARE’s Harrison Oztemel who has fifteen goals and six assists. Harrison’s teammate on AWARE, Juhani Ijas, the coach of the Thai national team, is in fourth spot with eleven goals and nine assists while TRUE captain Mike Wilson is in fifth spot with 14 points on seven goals and seven assists.

Novotel’s Carly Hill tries to slow up TRUE’s Ith Vatanapanyakul.

SHL action resumes Sunday January 27th when AWARE faces the Novotel Spitfires in game one at 8:30pm and Hertz takes on TRUE in the second contest at 9:30. Admission is free and all games take place at the Rink, 7th floor, Central Grand Rama IX.