Thunder come out on top in see-saw game

The Dunedin Thunder scored a goal in the last minute of the second 5 minute period of sudden death overtime to come out 4–3 winners in the first of two games being played this weekend at Alpine Sports Centre in Christchurch.

The first period of the game was about as even as it could be with the Thunder having 12 shots on goal to Canterbury’s 11 and play swinging from one end of the ice to the other in quite rapid succession. Canterbury had a power play opportunity half way through the period while the Thunder had overlapping penalties later in the period giving them a 5 on 3 advantage for a short time, but neither team were able capitalize and they went to the break scoreless.

Both teams took to the ice with greater intensity from the beginning of the second period with Canterbury hitting the tube in an early rush on the Thunder goal. However, it was Thunder that came up with the first goal scored by Eason Oliver with assistance from Ben Miller in the 3rd minute of the period. Just two minutes later Thunder scored again on a power play with Matas Barakauskas driving the puck home with assists from Kevin Jagau and Greg Wilson.

Canterbury fought back forcing Thunder into several defensive penalties. Despite constant pressure and several good shots on goal on the first power play they went unrewarded. However, with a 5 on 3 advantage later in the period, captain, Chris Eaden slotted the first Canterbury goal with assistance from Robert Banks. By the end of the second period Thunder had added a further 12 shots on goal and Canterbury 11.

It was the Red Devils who came out firing in the third period and they were rewarded with an equalizing goal in the 4th minute of the period. This was the result of persistent fore-checking by Anton Purver resulting in a turnover and a well timed pass to Chris Eaden who slotted the goal home from the other side of the ice. This began perhaps the Devil’s best passage of play in the game with constant pressure and several strong shots on goal and when a Thunder player went to the penalty box for hooking it was less than a minute into the power play that Tayler Kennedy, assisted by Robert Banks, scored for the Devils again giving them the lead in the game for the first time. With 9 minutes left in the game, Alex Eagan slotted an individual goal for the Devils and it looked like Canterbury were on their way to victory.

With their backs to the wall the Dunedin Thunder came back strongly putting pressure on Canterbury through two power plays with some strong shots on goal. It was an unexpected goal, scored from well outside the blue line by Dylan Devlin that gave them the boost they needed to stay in the game and just 2 minutes before the end of the third period they came up with the equalizer scored by Gregory Wilson. Canterbury had put 20 shots on goal to Dunedin’s 11 but it was not enough to grab victory.

The sudden death overtime was 5 minutes three-on-three and while both sides had opportunities to score it went right down to the wire. With just under 2 minutes to play an unlucky penalty saw an extra player added to the Thunder giving them a 4 on 3 advantage. With just 1 minute and 3 seconds left Gregory Wilson slotted the puck, from Paris Hyde, high in the left corner of the goal to give Thunder a hard earned victory.

Game report by Geoff Bland, 24th June 2017