This weekend will see the Australian Ice Hockey League slam down the throttle with the Melbourne Ice and the Adelaide Adrenaline hit the road for double headers. Craig Tonks breaks down the games and gives us his opinion.
Melbourne Ice V Perth Thunder
The Melbourne Ice will travel to Perth to take on the Thunder for two games. It’s the first hit out for the Thunder, who are surely confident of getting the season off to a great start, after a great finish to the 2013 season, which saw them reach the finals. The Thunder have assembled a solid playing roster with many supporters and other teams keen to see Justin Fox and Corey Toy hit the ice for the first time.
The Ice were one of the teams who played over the Easter weekend and will carry match fitness and form. Many fans see that the opening weekend of hockey in Perth will be enough to lift the Thunder to their first victory, but I think the games will be split.
Adelaide Adrenaline V Newcastle North Stars
The Adrenaline are another team hitting the ice for the first time this weekend and start the season with a road trip and a decent road trip at that. A smart selection of Imports will see the Adrenaline looking to perform better than they did in 2013. They always say it’s the quiet ones you need to watch and the Adrenaline have been quietly going about their business, which makes them a bit of an unknown quantity and I would think the Adrenaline would be happy with that. The element of surprise can be dangerous.
The North Stars who dropped their opening home game against the Bears will welcome new Import, Chris Wilson who will slip into the first line. Coach Gary Dore won’t accept two losses at home and will have reworked his lines and looked at how to maximise the North Stars strengths. This should get the North Stars over the line.
CBR Brave V Sydney Ice Dogs
Last years AIHL Champions, the Sydney Ice Dogs head to the nations capital to take on the Brave, who played some great hockey in their opening match against the Newcastle North Stars. Although the Brave went down to the North Stars, they will be ready to give the Ice Dogs a great run for their money.
The Ice Dogs started the season with a great win against the Melbourne Ice, however with teams like the Ice down on personnel due to the World Championships, this will be a good indicator for the Dogs to see where they are at. The key for the Brave will be how to shut down the short handed kings, Simon Barg and Robert Malloy specially when the Brave are on a power play. The Dogs are the power play specialists. I think the Ice Dogs will be too strong.
Adelaide Adrenaline V Sydney Bears
The Sydney Bears have had a great start to the season but as Yoda says, “One game does not a season make”. Starting with a shut-out of Newcastle at home, the Bears look great on the ice. The development of youth looks to be paying off and they have recruited smart. Sean Hamilton Steen was a stand out last game and goal tender, Daniel Palmkvist was solid. Welcoming Michael Schlamp and Cameron Todd back into the line up will see the Bears stronger and hungrier than ever. I think this one is worthy of a shootout.