2020 starts with a bang as AWARE and Novotel earn convincing wins

Our first game in 2020 saw AWARE thump Hertz 6-2. The first period was a goaltending battle with several chances at each end. Early in the second period, AWARE captain Justin St. Denis snatched up a loose puck after Hertz’s Tan Limpinphet fell and snuck a low backhander through a screen and under Hertz keeper Lance Parker as Brandon Vick and Devin Michael caused havoc in front of the net.

Hertz’s Jordan Ashton and AWARE’s Brandon Vick chase the puck.

On the same shift, seconds later, St. Denis gave Michael a cross-ice pass breaking into the zone and he ripped a high slapshot over Lance’s shoulder. The very next shift, Vick chipped the puck up the boards to St. Denis who feed Micheal up the middle; he undressed the defender and Lance before slipping it into the empty net giving AWARE a 3-0 heading into the second intermission.

Early in the third period, AWARE’s Mat Sigel took a penalty for tripping, and on the power play, Thai national star Phu Suwachirat got a break for Hertz beating AWARE’s star D-man Adrian Meyers and then dangling St. Denis before shelving it glove side past fellow Thai national team player Dream, making it 3-1 for AWARE.

Hertz’s Lance Parker sprawls to make a save against AWARE’s Corry Day.

But AWARE strick back with three quick goals as Corry Day scored and then
After AWARE took a penalty, Matt Johnson score a shorthanded goal when he banged in a loose puck after a point shot from Tommi Hakkinen. Mat Sigel then redeemed himself scoring the last AWARE goal from Corry Day. Hertz rounded out late in the third period after Dream covered a loose puck, but a late whistle led to Hertz jabbing at the puck and Arnold Vattanapanyakul ramming the puck past Dream. Devin Micheal with his three-point second period (2Gs, 1 A) was the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game.

The night’s second match-up pitted the SHL’s top two teams, the Novotel Spitfires and PEAK Biolabs, as they vied for pole position heading into the season’s final stretch before the playoffs. The contest turned into a showcase for Novotel goaltender Yu Cheng Liao, who played nearly flawlessly in the Spitfires’ commanding 6-1 win. In the first period’s closing seconds, Liao turned away a cannon-fire penalty shot by PEAK forward Michael White, sending the teams to intermission knotted at 0-0.

Peak’s John Schachnovsky in attack form against Novotel.

Novotel busted open the scoring in the second period behind goals from substitute Tom Price, Brad Wilson (off a nifty pass from Jason Bitter behind the goal line), and Krittapad (Peam) Jaratwuttipreeda, as the Spitfires took a 3-0 lead into the second break.

The Spitfires continued their barrage in the third period, with two insurance goals by Bill Bredesen and a short-handed score by Marcel Bouwens. Purich (Mel) Dhiranusornkit notched PEAK’s lone goal, with an assist by Punn Phasukkijwatana.

Novotel substitute Tom Price turns up ice against Peak’s Michael White.

Liao, who won “Player of the Game” honors after stopping 21 shots, twice turned away Novotel’s leading scorer Jesse Starosta on breakaway attempts in the third period, helping cement the win for the Spitfires. It should be noted that PEAK’s bench was heavily depleted, with two-time SHL scoring champion Harrison Oztemel, along with prime-time playmakers Patrick Forstner, Papan (Yean) Thanakroekkiat, and Hideki Nagayama all out of action.