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Four-goal burst powers Thunder past Mustangs

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The Perth Thunder picked up their first wins of there season on the weekend.

Richard Sak | Perth Thunder

Four goals in nine second-period minutes has seen the Perth Thunder stun the 2014 Goodall Cup Champion (and SCoC’s team) Melbourne Mustangs with a commanding victory at Perth Ice Arena.

Jamie Woodman and Jessyko Bernard scored their first Australian Ice Hockey League goals, Andrew Cox continued his red-hot goal-scoring touch, and Tomek Sak showed everyone why he’s so highly touted as a forward talent in Perth Thunder’s 5-1 romp over the Melbourne Mustangs on Sunday evening.

Woodman, a defenceman and former AIHL rookie of the year finalist, was particularly pleased to have finally tallied his first goal in his third AIHL season. "(It was) so good to get the monkey off my back," Woodman said. "But it’s the guys in front of the net doing all the work, I just take the easy shot and the guys make a mess in front and make sure it gets through."

Perhaps one of the greatest curiosities occurred pre-game with the Mustangs electing to bench Fraser Carson after a brilliant 35-save performance the night before, starting back-up goaltender Chris Slauenwhite in net.

Slauenwhite started well, but gave up four goals in a short space of time in the second period, one on a juicy rebound and another on an ill-advised trip out of the crease, which saw him yanked back to the bench after two periods.

Woodman saw the explosion as being more about the Thunder seizing the initiative in the game and capitalising on their momentum.

"I think once the first goal went in, everyone on the bench was hungry thinking I want the next one, I’m going in hard, straight away you could see it," Woodman said.

After a tight 1-0 decision on Saturday night, the second of the back-to-back match-ups looked to be headed much the same way, with Melbourne scoring the only goal in the first period and a half of play through Pat O’Kane on a breakaway.

Then, out of nowhere, the Thunder offence exploded. Canadian import Jessyko Bernard was first to tally after Slauenwhite left a rebound in front of the crease to tie the score 1-1 after five minutes of the second period, before Woodman’s wrist shot gave him a power play goal to put the Thunder ahead four minutes later.

Andrew Cox then shot a puck into an empty net from a Kieren Webster feed, with Slauenwhite having come too far out of his net, to tally short-handed and take a 3-1 lead.

Tomek Sak completed the scoring in the second period for the Thunder when Captain Sam Wilson found him in behind the defence, with Sak roofing his shot from the top of the crease to make it 4-1 Thunder.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing from there, as the Thunder had to kill a full two minutes of a 5-on-3 to start the third period, with Lynden Lodge in the box for hooking and David Mahood serving a bench minor.

Thomas Heemskerk starred once again with 35 saves to go with his 37-save shutout the night before, while Andrew Cox added some gravy to the scoreline late in the piece to lead the Thunder to a commanding 5-1 victory.

The victory ensured six competition points for the Thunder, points that Woodman said would be vital, given the Thunder play their next four games on the road.

"To eke out six points was really good," Woodman said. "It just gets the ball rolling, these guys are good, this year I don’t think there’s a bad team in the league so if we can work from this and keep building our level of play, that’s what we need to do to compete."

The Thunder play CBR Brave in Canberra on May 14 & 15, before travelling to Adelaide to play the Adrenaline the following weekend.