Swarm Surge

Photo: Mike Froger

By CLAIRE ZIEGLER

The Botany Swarm came back with a monster third period to win Saturday’s Auckland derby match 7-4 over the West Auckland Admirals.

It was a rollercoaster of a game, with the lead changing several times, and some big hits and huge plays from both sides. The Swarm took an early lead, as Jamie Lawrence scored with 1s remaining on a powerplay, going bar-down with a shot that snuck past Admirals goaltender Csaba Kercso-Magos.

The Admirals were able to tie up the game five or six minutes later, as Andy Hart took a shot from just outside the crease that similarly went bar-down past Swarm goaltender Alain Giauque, in what was a remarkably even period between the two Auckland teams.

The second period saw the ice tilt decidedly in the Admirals’ favour, as they had the edge in chances, shots and possession. Both goals scored in the second were for the Admirals, the first a puck curled around Giauque’s skate by Dylan Dickson to finish off a great pass by Taylor Rooney, and the second a great tip by AJ Spiller finishing off a rush by Nick Henderson and Blake Jackson on the powerplay.

The teams went back to their respective locker rooms after 40 minutes with the Admirals holding a solid 3-1 lead, and looking confident and poised in their systems. The Swarm picked up a penalty in the waning moments of period two, and this carried over to the third, with the Swarm penalty killers doing an excellent job to defend the penalty.

This momentum and the renewed resolve from the home side paid dividends rapidly, as Jordan Challis finished off a pass from David Lindgren to get the Swarm back within one goal. An even-strength goal from Logan Fraser 40s later somehow squeaked through Kercso-Magos to tie the game, and it appeared that the ice had tilted in the other direction as the Swarm began to look more dominant, capitalising on some fumbles by the Admirals.

The go-ahead goal came from Jared Henderson about five minutes later, and while the Admirals did not stop pressing, the next goal (and eventual game-winner) was another from Challis, assisted by KC Ball. Ball’s assist marked his 100th NZIHL career assist, a huge accomplishment for the Swarm veteran.

The Admirals called a timeout at that juncture to try to slow the game down, and with the Swarm up by two, the pace and the hitting both picked up noticeably.

A minor penalty for hooking on Alex Polozov gave the Admirals a good chance to get back into the game, but despite some quality chances–and pulling Kercso-Magos for the extra attacker with a few seconds left in their powerplay–they were unable to convert on that powerplay.

The Swarm were able to force a turnover along the blueline, and Polozov had a chance at the empty net as he came out of the box. His shot went slightly wide, and was carried up the ice by the Admirals to give them another chance. A second turnover in the neutral zone was collected by Sami Saastamoinen for the Swarm, and he made no mistake it putting it past a sprawling Mario Mjelleli to put the Swarm up to 6-3.

The Admirals put their goalie back in briefly, but a poorly timed icing for the Swarm saw the Admirals get a chance off a faceoff, and Frazer Ellis put it home with 33s remaining to bring the score to 6-4. The Admirals pulled their goaltender again in the final 30s in an attempt to try and pick up another goal or two, but the Swarm were able to get possession and Polozov and Saastamoinen combined to score a second empty-netter with 13s remaining.

Sunday’s game is set to be a cracker of a match, as the two sides battle it, with pride and points on the line.

This game was streamed and the archived footage can be viewed at nzihl.tv.

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