The first SHL game on February 27th saw a see-saw battle with Aware ultimately coming from behind for its second straight comeback win and a 6-5 triumph over SHL regular-season champions Hertz.
Hertz jumped out to an early 3-0 lead on goals by Thai national team player Tan Limpinphet, Darius Konotopetz and sub Andrew Shutsa. Aware’s Brandon Vick, who had five points on the night, finally got Aware on the board with ten minutes left in the second period and Aware captain Justin St. Denis scored soon after bringing Aware within a goal but Hertz’s Limpinphet restored his team’s two-goal lead going into the second intermission.
Aware came out firing in the third and tied it on Vick’s second of the night and a goal by Devin Michael, fresh off leading his ball hockey squad, the Thai Stix, to the Mekong Cup championship.
Hertz went back in the lead 5-4 when sub Mangkorn Sukwiboon scored a shorthanded goal with 6:32 left on the clock, But the never-say-die Aware squad battled back to tie it with 2:15 as St Denis scored his second of the night. Then with 46 second left to play SHL scoring champ Corry Day batted the winner past Hertz keeper Lance Parker who along with counterpart Dream Ungkulpattanasuk made 23 saves on the night.
Peak Biolabs demolished the Novotel Spitfires 6-2 in the second game of the night and the final game of the SHL’s regular season. This left they two teams in first-place tie but, Hertz took the overall title as a result of a better head-to-head record.
In game two, the pile-on started early for Peak, with three first-period goals by Punnie Phasukkjiwatana, Christian Olofsson — on a Nick Lidstrom-like blast from the point — and Eddie McConnell. Novotel answered early in the second period on a goal by captain Brad Wilson to cut the lead to 3-1, and briefly it appeared as though the Spitfires would keep this one close.
That wasn’t to be. Peak scored two more goals in the remaining minutes of the second period to effectively put the game out of reach. Stephen Sproule notched one, and SHL President John Schachnovsky scored another to lead Peak into the locker room for the second intermission up 5-1.
With two-time SHL scoring champion Harrison Oztemel sidelined from a knee injury, and cannon-blast defensive threat Yean Thanakroekkiat out with a pulled groin, Peak didn’t even have all its offensive guns blazing.
McConnell, the Rolling Stone Pizza player-of-the-game, scored his second goal of the night early in the third period to seal the victory. Marcel Bouwens of Novotel managed a goal late in the third, but it only served to make the final score a bit more respectable. Gabor Toth made 18 saves for Peak on the night while Yu Cheng (Leo) Liao turned away 23 of the shots fired at him.
During the first intermission of the second game Hertz captain Jordan Ashton informed all on-air that Hertz (10-8) — as reigning champs they would have the choice of their first-round opponent — and as such would take on the Novotel Spitfires (9-9) in one semi-final while Aware (7-11) would face off against Peak Biolabs (10-8) in the other best-of-three semi-final action set to start play on Sunday, March 1st.
Aware’s Corry Day repeated as the SHLs scoring champion with 24 points followed by three players in a second-place tied with 22 (Mike Freeson, Darius Konotopetz and Jordan Ashton). Kudus to super-sub Rakchai (Mangkorn) Sukwiboon who played a remarkable 23 games, subbing for all four teams, averaging a point a game.