Deja Vu (Video)

The West Auckland Admirals Made the Dunedin Thunder Pay for defensive miscues and their superior execution and speed lead the North Islanders to a 7-3 win, matching the score from the previous night.

The Dunedin Thunder, looking to bounce back from last night’s season opening loss, took on the West Auckland Admirals, at the Dunedin Ice Stadium Sunday.   Head Coach Matt Hladun said: “yesterday was a good game. Although we did not come out on top, there were a lot of positives. We need to keep going. It will not get any easier today so we just need to keep focused and limit the mistakes we made yesterday and the opportunities we gave them which will translate to a better result.”

The Admirals were the quicker team in the opener and their speed and aggressive play in the offensive zone forced turnovers which they were able to capitalise on.  The Thunder’s more physical style of play excited the crowd, but ultimately wasn’t enough to slow down the Admirals.

The Thunder again started Danny Lee in goal, while the Admirals countered with Ice Blacks goalie Rick Parry.

An early turnover created a 2 on 1 for the Admirals forcing a nice save from Danny Lee.   The Thunder were running around in their own zone and eventually Pierre-Luc Coulombe took a penalty for interference at 1:49.    The Admirals held possession and forced several saves from Lee, but could not bend the twine.

A second power play for the Admirals came at 4:33 on Coslett for hooking.  However, a nice piece of fore-checking by Heyd forced a turnover and he notched a shorthanded goal, against the run of play.   The Admirals bounced back and forced Lee into a couple of saves, and they had a few near misses, but again could not score before the teams went back to even strength.

A second minor penalty was tacked on to Coslett’s original penalty for abuse of officials.  However, the Admirals could not find the equalizer.

The Admirals tied the game at 9:57 with a wrist shot from Dale Horrop on a nice feed from Hart following a stretch of sustained pressure.

Offsetting roughing penalties to Oliver and Sandoy opened up some 4-on-4 hockey.  A nice rush by Heyd left a rebound for Pierre-Luc Coulombe who popped the biscuit into the top corner to restore the home side’s one goal lead.   The play was a savvy read by the experienced import.

The Admirals nearly tied the game when a puck got past Lee, but didn’t cross the goal line and the Thunder were able to clear the puck.

The Admirals tied the score at 18:52 on a goal by Henric Andersen. The Admirals controlled possession in the offensive zone and were able to sneak a shot past Lee.  The period ended with the game tied at two.   Shots in the period were 21 for the Admirals and 7 for the Thunder, which reflected the game.   Danny Lee played extremely well and kept the home side in the game.

The second period started with the sides at even strength.  The Thunder needed to get off to a good start to the period, but they did not.  Following a good first shift, some soft defense gave the Admirals an opportunity in front of the Thunder goal, which Frazer Ellis was able to slot past Lee at 1:31.

Another defensive zone turnover cost the Thunder as Thomas Battani scored a second quick goal for the Admirals at 4:23 to take a two goal lead.  The Thunder were careless getting the puck out of their own zone and this gave a good opportunity to Battani, who didn’t miss.

The Thunder called a time out to try to settle things down, but it didn’t stop the rot as Anderson scored at 6:08 and then Battani scored again at 6:30 to give the visitors a four goal lead.    At this point Lee got pulled and Barakauskas was brought on to tend goal for the home side.

A hooking penalty to Oliver gave the visitors an opportunity to extend their lead, but a good penalty kill by the Thunder and some agitation by Coulombe seemed to give the Thunder a boost and led to a power play opportunity.    The Thunder beautifully moved the puck and created several excellent chances, but couldn’t find the back of the goal.

The Thunder tried to increase the physical play at this point with a particularly huge hit coming from Coulombe, who was working hard to get under the skin of the Admirals.   The period ended with the Thunder getting some good chances.    The Thunder had 10 shots in the period and the Admirals had 14.  Thunder had a really poor stretch of about five minutes after the opening shift of the second period and the Admirals took full advantage.

To get back in the game, the Thunder needed to build on their late momentum.

However, the Thunder could not have gotten off to worse start, with the Admirals scoring after only 12 seconds in the period.  Again some soft defending and some careless play in the neutral zone cost the home team.

After some indifferent play and some penalties, Heyd slotted one back for the home side on a turnover and a quick shot that beat Parry at 8:13.

Shots in the period were 13 for the Thunder and 8 for Admirals.  Overall, the Admirals outshot the Thunder 43-30.

Life doesn’t get any easier for the Thunder as they face the defending champion Southern Stampede next weekend at Dunedin Ice Stadium.

Match Report by Richard Audas