The first true marquee matchup of the young SHL season took place this past Sunday when Novotel Spitfires took on Peak Biolabs in week three of the young SHL season. Both teams entered the game with identical 2-0 records. It was a matchup of the top goalie in the league and the top offensive producing team. Something had to give.
Peak jumped out to a fast start with Thai speedster Hideki Nagayama going coast to coast for a breakaway goal with only a few minutes gone in the first period. Peak continued to roll in the first with Patrick Forstner picking up two goals before the end of the frame. His first tally was assisted by the point-gobbling machine Jesse Starostra. Forstner’s second was a great individual effort.
While we can’t be sure, it seemed the teams traded jerseys between the first and second periods, as Novotel, not ready to concede, came out flying in the second. While they had many chances, Peak’s strong defense and Gabor Toth in the net, kept them off the board. An unfortunate late penalty looked to kill any momentum Novotel had, but they kept their foot on the gas, and Marcel Bouwens cashed in on this big push with a shorthanded goal. Assists went to Homme Thaiyanont and Winnie Luckanatinskom. Novotel kept pushing and were rewarded for their efforts with less than a minute to go in the second when Ernesto Bauer received a pass from Bill Bredesen and made a strong move to the net and chipped the puck over Toth’s shoulder, for a highlight-reel goal.
With the game 3-2 going into the third, the fans had gotten the game they were hoping for. The third was a closer affair and either team could have secured the next goal. After a quiet first two periods, sniper Harrison Oztemel would not be denied and took the puck, and found himself alone on Leo, and slid the puck past the rookie goalie for a 4-2 Peak lead.
After this goal the game stayed even until four minutes to go, when Forstner was given a major penalty for clipping. This allowed Novotel to have a power play for the rest of the game. Novotel pushed and pushed, and Peak withstood the onslaught. With less than a minute to go, Yean Thankokriat relived the pressure with an empty net goal. This goal and a great all around defensive gem by Thankokriat earned him the Rolling Stone Pizza player of the game.
In the battle of top goalies, Toth showed why he should still be considered elite, and is not ready to give the title of best goalie to the rookie just yet, as he recorded 31 saves. In the losing effort, Leo had 23 saves.
In the second game of the night, AWARE jumped into an early 1-0 lead in a battle of the SHL’s two winless teams, when Scott Murray fed Matt Sigel who sent the puck past a sprawling Hertz keeper Lance Parker. Then two Thai national team players combined to tie up the score up for Hertz as Tan Limpinphet fed First Kulrat for a nice goal.
AWARE’s Devin Michael poked a puck home in front of the Hertz net to allow AWARE to regain their lead. Then the team in red went up 3-1 when defenseman Matt Johnson sent a beautiful half-ice pass to work colleague Corry Day and Day looked like Jerry Rice corralling a long bomb from Joe Montana back in the day. Day took the pass on his backhand, put it through his legs and skated in alone on Hertz keeper Lance Parker, teasing him slightly before burying the puck top corner.
Then a funny thing happened, AWARE let up, perhaps sensing a victory.
But Hertz did not and it helps having the best defenseman on the Thai national team, Ken Kindborn, as a sub – he was replacing injured Russian star Roman Larin. Ken made both a number or nice rushes and good defensive plays to swing the momentum of the game in Hertz’s favour helping Hertz to rally to tie the score at three on markers by captain Jordan Ashton and Darius Konotopetz going into the second intermission.
Then early in the third, to rival Corry Day’s breakaway goal, Hertz’s Mike Wilson put on a clinic snaring the puck at mid-ice, crossing over to and then streaking down the left-hand side of the ice, before placing a wrist shot to the top right-hand corner of the AWARE goal, that substitute keeper Igor Sykora didn’t even see.
David Boere took his second penalty of the third period with just over two minutes to go in the game and this definitely hurt AWARE’s comeback chances, though they did go down fighting swarming the Hertz go in the final seconds.
SHL action continues on Thursday November 7th when AWARE takes on Peak at 8:30pm and Hertz battles Novotel at 9:30.
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