The Perth Thunder having continued rolling through the 2016 AIHL season, registering another two regulation victories at the weekend, this time over their nearest geographical rival, the Adelaide Adrenaline.
Back-to-back one-goal victories have seen the Thunder stretch their winning streak to six, one short of a club record set in 2013, with a 3-2 win Saturday night followed up by a 4-3 win on Sunday.
Goaltender Thomas Heemskerk was the star of Saturday’s affair, stopping 44 of 46 shots, including 22 of 23 in a frantic third period, while Adrenaline goalie Peter King was magnificent on Sunday, keeping his team in with a chance to win stopping 37 of 41 shots.
Thunder head coach Dave Kenway was circumspect, in a good way, about Heemskerk’s performance on Saturday, saying, “Heemskerk is good every game, he’s been a really good signing for us and steps up every game when we need him”.
Saturday’s game was a tight affair, with Adelaide hitting the score sheet first through their Captain Greg Oddy, before young gun Tomek Sak continued his goal-scoring form for the Thunder to tie the scores at 1-1, which it would remain until the end of period 1.
Jessyko Bernard tallied on the power play to take the score to 2-1, before Liam Jeffries doubled the advantage just before the end of the second period to take a 3-1 lead in to the second intermission.
An unfortunate deflection off the skate of Captain Andrew Cox, standing in for the injured Sam Wilson, saw Adelaide reduce the deficit to one, but Heemskerk then slammed the door on Adelaide, back stopping the Thunder to a 3-2 victory.
Sunday was a tale of close calls and missed opportunities, with the Thunder failing to capitalise on two five-on-three power plays, including one for a full two minutes, before Peter King put up the “no entry” sign on his net in the third period.
King stopped 18 of 19 shots in the third period, with a Ben Breault short-handed breakaway goal proving to be the decisive moment. Dave Kenway, however, wasn’t concerned with the nature of the victory.
“You always look back and you sort of go, yeah we should have put more in the net, especially having five-on-three’s, but at the end of the day, we won the game and that’s what we came here to do,” Kenway said.
Sunday’s game began somewhat better than Saturday for the Thunder, with Cox scoring just 1.42 in to the contest, and Sak scoring his second of the weekend series four minutes later to take an early 2-0 lead.
Adelaide would cut the deficit to one on the power play before the end of the first period through Darren Corstens, but Jamie Woodman restored the two-goal advantage with his second power play goal of the season to make it 3-1 Thunder.
Oddy then took the score back to 3-2, before a nasty incident saw Corstens assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for an illegal check to the head of Thunder defenceman David Kudla.
Steve Best took a boarding call in the final minute of the period, which meant the Thunder would have a full two minutes of a five-on-three power play, having failed to capitalise on their earlier five-on-three chance.
King once again was outstanding during the penalty kill, and the Adrenaline tied the scores at 3-3 with a power play goal to Gabriel O’Connor shortly after the penalties had been killed.
Cox took a kneeing penalty half way through the third period, giving Adelaide a chance to take the lead, but Ben Breault intercepted a D-to-D pass and scored on a breakaway, with his short-handed tally proving the game winner in a 4-3 decision.
The scoring spread was again impressive for the Thunder, with eleven players tallying points, led by Tomek Sak with three points (2G, 1A), as well as Thomas Heemskerk hitting the score sheet with a brilliant outlet pass to assist on Tomek Sak’s goal on Sunday.
The pair of victories leaves the Thunder in second position in the standings, equal on points with the Newcastle North Stars with one game in hand, and sets up a tantalising 1st vs 2nd clash at home with the unbeaten Melbourne Ice this coming weekend.
The matches will be available for audio stream at mixlr.com/perththunder, with puck drop at 4.30am ET Saturday and Sunday.