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Mixed bag for Thunder in east coast road trip

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Saturday 4th June: Perth Thunder vs Sydney Ice Dogs Liverpool Catholic Club Sports Complex, Sydney NSW Sunday 5th June: Perth Thunder vs Newcastle North Stars Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Newcastle NSW

Graham Punler | Perth Thunder
Graham Punler | Perth Thunder
Rolling on a eight game winning streak (a club record), the Perth Thunder undertook a tough road trip to Australia’s east coast over the weekend and came away with mixed results in two tight games. The boys from the west pushed the streak to nine on Saturday with a 3-2 come from behind victory over the Sydney Ice Dogs and lost narrowly in a close encounter with the Newcastle North Stars on Sunday

The Thunder hit the buzzing city of Sydney after an early flight from Perth on Saturday morning before travelling to the Liverpool Catholic Sports Complex for a match up with Ice Dogs. Fresh off a big 6-4 win over the North Stars last weekend, the Ice Dogs came into the contest with the firing Thunder, brimming with confidence. The pace was set early with both sides out to keep their winning streaks alive. However, after an Andrew White penalty for the Dogs midway through the first, Perth opened the scoring on the power play off the stick of Kieren Webster.

The Power Play would again prove to be the scoring key in the second period, however, this time it was the Ice Dogs who hit the scoreboard. Grant Toulmin took advantage of a penalty to the Thunder’s Rob Haselhurst and evened things up at 1 goal apiece. The Thunder were caught on the back foot in the second, with a second goal coming from Sydney’s Strat Allen no more than twenty seconds after their first. Sydney headed to the second intermission with a 2-1 lead.

The Thunder came out strongly in the third period, with local talent Jonathan Bremner hitting the back of the net for the Thunder within the first two minutes to tie the scores once again. With the scores locked at 2-2, the physicality of the game stepped up. It was Thunder import Jessyko Bernard who broke the deadlock, scoring the final goal of the game and stretching the Thunder’s winning streak to nine with a 3-2 victory.

Thunder net minder Thomas Heemskerk again had a strong game, with 27 saves from 29 Ice Dogs shots.

The Thunder then travelled up the coast on Sunday for a match up with the third placed Newcastle North Stars at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

The North Stars, coming off a three game losing streak were out hard early with a point to prove. The home side hit the lead with lightning speed with a rebound goal from Hamish Powell. The game, as expected, was a physical affair with some heavy checks coming from both sides early. Newcastle headed to the first intermission with a 1-0 lead.

The physical intensity continued in the second period with penalties being issued to both sides. It was a case of deja vu as the North Stars went at it again with an unassisted goal coming from Newcastle import Brandon Greenside just minutes into the second frame. However, the Thunder soon got the spark they needed, after a 5-on-3 power play resulted in an absolute rocket of a one timer from Jessyko Bernard, pulling the score back to 2-1.

The third period was to be a tight tussle, with the Thunder trying to pull their way back into the game. However, Greenside got his second to put the North Stars 3-1 up in the contest. Not a team to lay down and accept defeat however, the Thunder kept pushing and Kieren Webster found the back of the net for his second goal of the weekend. However, that was where the scoreline would stay with the North Stars taking a 3-2 win.

The regular AIHL season schedule will take a break next weekend with the All Star Weekend hitting Sydney. Selected players from all eight clubs will take part in an All Star game and Skills Competition. Perth Thunder will be represented by imports Ben Breault and Michael Dorr along with local players Andrew Cox and Rob Haselhurst. Haselhurst is the reigning champion for the Fastest Skater crown and the Thunder boys will look to ‘rep the west’ with pride.

The Thunder are then back on home ice in Perth on June 18-19 for a double header against the Adelaide Adrenaline.