In an exciting back-and-forth affair, the last-place Perth Inferno collected their first points of the season in an overtime win against the third-place Melbourne Ice.
Melbourne Ice made the decision to give goaltender Audrey Wallace her first ever AWIHL start and she was tested early, eventually giving up an early first period goal. Following a scary collision with the boards, play was held up while Melbourne Ice skater Shae Ganac was attended to. Our thoughts are with her as she did not return to the game.
Perth went to work on the powerplay looking to double their advantage but instead found themselves digging the puck out of their own net, Melbourne Ice forward Christina Julien capitalising on a short-handed breakaway.
However, any relief Melbourne may have felt about equalising was short-lived, as Perth scored another go-ahead goal on the same powerplay, Courtney Moulton scoring from the point courtesy of a well-placed screen in front of the net.
Another seeing-eye shot found its way past debutante goaltender Wallace, Isla Malcolm scoring the goal through traffic to double the Inferno’s lead.
The period would end with the score 3-1 in the Inferno’s favour, however, it was not reflective of the shot-total; Melbourne dominating the shot count 19-6, in part thanks to a two-woman advantage towards the end of the period.
Perth goaltender Sydney Fricker continued to stand tall in the second period, withstanding waves of Melbourne Ice attack including a short-handed breakaway by birthday girl Megan Eady at the midway point.
Later during that same powerplay, Michelle Clark-Crumpton made good use of another screen in front to give Perth a 4-1 lead.
Perth would send the Ice to the powerplay towards the end of the period, Fricker once again proving herself to be the Inferno’s best penalty-killer. This time denying both Aparicio and Julien from the slot in quick succession. The shots on goal ended 33-18 in favour of the Ice but the score remained 4-1 in favour of the Inferno.
Perth would take another penalty early in the third, one that Melbourne Ice would finally capitalise on courtesy of Christina Julien. An excellent brace by the captain, making use of limited space in the slot to tickle the twine with a well-placed shot.
Shortly afterwards Christina Julien cut the lead in half, capitalising on a breakaway that looked eerily similar to her first goal. The hat-trick was complete, consisting of a short-handed goal, power-play goal, and even-strength goal. All that was needed was a shoot-out and empty-net goal to complete the scorer’s cycle.
Just minutes later, Courtney Moulton scored her second, showing off the nifty mittens on a breakaway to restore the Inferno’s two-goal lead.
Perth started to play more and more tentatively, attempting to clog up the neutral zone and not appearing as eager to sustain attacking pressure. The conservative approach seemed to be working, until Ice forward Marnie Pullin took things into her own hands, scoring a beauty on the backhand to once again make it a one-goal game.
A short time later the Inferno sent the Ice to the powerplay once again and once again the Ice capitalised, restoring parity for the first time since the first period. Georgia Moore with the absolute blast from the left faceoff circle to make it a 5-5 game.
A minute later, Marie Pullin put the Ice ahead 6-5 for the first time in the game, converting a beautiful pass that found her open in front of the net for the one-timer.
Perth weren’t about to roll over and take the loss and pressured Melbourne, pulling the goalie for an extra attacker. Their hard work paid off, Nora Maclaine, the architect of many Inferno goals, scored the 6-6 equalising goal with less than a minute left on the clock.
The game was headed to a shootout. Well, that’s what everyone thought, but in an inexplicable and to this point unexplainable move, the game went to 3-on-3 overtime instead. Melbourne started the overtime period in the attacking zone, Fricker again standing tall. And then this happened.
Coutney Moulton picked her spot from the slot to complete the hat-trick and the 7-6 win for the Perth Inferno.
In the end it was an exciting game, Melbourne Ice dominated the shot-count but Sydney Fricker was equal to the challenge when needed. Perth Inferno’s record has not reflected their play this season, they definitely deserved a win at some point. Perth now must build on this game and hope that results go their way to overtake the Brisbane Goannas for the fourth and final playoff spot.