Week six of the Sport Corner Siam Hockey League was a very entertaining affair. Going into the games, the standings looked as tight as can be, with the first game matching two 2-3 teams and the late game between two 3-2 teams. And the games didn’t disappoint as both were close contests with one ending in a one-goal game and the other only missing the one goal margin because of a late empty-net tally. With the SHL live broadcasts gaining more exposure, the SHL is putting its best foot forward with exciting games for the fans who make it out to the rink and for viewers around the world.
Game one saw Hertz battle Aware, with both teams sporting 2-3 records. Hertz came out flying and carried the play early on. Goaltender Dream was forced to make a large number of saves early, and the Aware offense couldn’t get rolling. Then, SHL leading scorer Corry Day took the puck and carved his way down the ice, scoring an unassisted goal. Aware found themselves being outplayed on the ice, but up 1-0 on the scoreboard with seven minutes to play in the period.
Hertz seemed to wake up after that goal by Aware, and the ice tilted in their favor the rest of the first. With 4:17 to go in the opening period, Masato Kitiyama, who was flying around the ice all night, was able to find Mangkorn Sukwiboon alone in front of the Aware net, and Mangkorn was able to direct the puck past Dream to tie the game at one. Less than two minutes later, Hertz took the lead when Arnold Vattanapanyakul flung the puck past Dream on an assist from Phu Suwachirat. Hertz was not done, and picked up their third goal of the period with under a minute to go in the stanza. Major Ingkharratphithakon dished the puck to Alex Phelps, Phelps them fired from the point and Darius Konotopetz was able to get a piece of the puck for a nifty deflection past Dream. At the end of the first, Hertz held the lead 3-1.
The second period began with Aware looking like a team that really felt they deserved more. Only a couple of minutes into the second, Day picked up his second goal of the game on a pass from Devin Michael. Less than four minutes later, Aware captain Justin St. Denis gave a great pass to Brandon Vick who was able to tie the game at three.
For most of the rest of the period, the game was a closely-fought affair, with both teams getting quality chances. Goalies Dream and Lance Parker had their own battle, neither wanting to let in the tie-breaking goal. Late in the period, Aware was penalized, putting Hertz on the power play. And with only 16 seconds left on the clock, Jaren Folden picked up his first goal of the season, a power play marker with the assist going to Masato. At the end of the second period, the score was 4-3 in favor of Hertz.
The third period was a back and forth period, with Dream and Parker playing lights out goaltending, with neither team able to get the ever-important next goal.
Aware pushed harder as the clock ran down. They pulled Dream for the extra attacker with under two minutes to play. Unfortunately, the six-on-five man advantage was shortlived as Michael was called for an interference penalty off of an offensive zone faceoff. Aware was forced to pull their goalie again, but this time, Hertz was able to seal the win with a power play empty net goal as Mangkorn picked up his second goal on the night with an assist from Konopetz and Major. The exciting game ended 5-3 in Hertz’ favour.
Dream made 26 saves in a losing effort and Parker made 17 saves for the win, and was named the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game.
The second game of the evening was a matchup of the two top teams in the standings, Peak vs Novotel, with both squads looking to pick up bragging rights and first place in the league.
It was a tightly fought game from the very first faceoff with good goalies on both sides of the ice. PEAK found the back of the net first when forward Michael White converted on a nice passing play, with assists going to Harrison Oztemel and substitute player Ken Kindborn.
Novotel came storming back however and they tied the game up when Winnie Luckanatinskorn, using the PEAK defenseman as a screen, beat Gabor Toth on a perfectly placed shot, top-far-corner. The Novotel goal drew loud “Gaaaaaabor” chants inside the arena mocking the PEAK goalie to try to get him off balance. The tactic seemed to work initially and Novotel got lucky when a slap shot from a bad angle found its way in, short side on Gabor, 2-1 Novotel with just minutes to go in the first period.
But that’s when Ken Kindborn decided to take matters into his own hands and finished a dominant shift by tying the game up with just 27 seconds left of the first, assisted by Michael White. It was a tie game, 2-2 after one period.
The second period was entertaining but no goals were scored, mostly due to strong performances by Novotel goalie and Taipei national team netminder Leo Liao as well as Peak’s Gabor Toth; shutting the door with several strong saves and stopping every offensive attempt by the two teams.
Novotel started the third period with lots of energy but PEAK slowly took over more and more of the game. Halfway through the period a failed clearing attempt put Novotel down a man for delay of game as the puck was shot over the glass from their own zone and that is when the deadly PEAK power play went to work. Ken Kindborn quarterbacked a perfectly executed man advantage and Michael White potted his second goal of the night, beautifully set up by Stephen Sproule and Ken Kindborn left Peak in the lead with one goal and just seven minutes to go.
Novotel did their best to muster a comeback but a terribly ill-advised penalty by Ernesto Bauer with less than two minutes to go in the game ended any hopes of tying it up and forcing overtime. The final score was PEAK 3 – 2 Novotel.
SHL action continues on Thursday November 22nd when Hertz takes on Novotel at 8:30pm and Peak battles Aware at 9:30pm.
For more information on the SHL check out Dom Dumais great podcasts and interviews with SHL players.