In a game that was a winner-take-all matchup for the final playoff spot, the Perth Inferno defeated a depleted Brisbane Goannas team 9-1. As mentioned in the review of Saturday’s game (click here for the article), Brisbane needed to add some local Western Australian players to their squad to replace those playing representative hockey and those missing due to travel issues.
I have created a highlight package of all the goals scored in the game. If the feedback is good, I will attempt to do so on a more regular basis. Either click this link, or view the embedded video below. I’m a video editing/creating noob, so feedback and advice (software to use, etc. (preferably free)) is appreciated.
Perth have been in blistering form of late and seemed determined to punch their ticket to the AWIHL finals. In a season where bounces and puck-luck haven’t always gone their way, the floodgates were about to open in this match, much to the Goanna’s misfortune.
Perth spent long stretches of the opening minutes in Brisbane’s end of the rink, limiting Brisbane to chances off the rush. Goannas netminder Imogen Perry continued her solid play from Saturday where she turned away 40 shots.
The Goannas went to the powerplay, and although initially struggling to set up in the Inferno’s zone, managed to get a couple of good scoring chances that Inferno goaltender Sydney Fricker needed to be sharp to save.
The game went to 4-on-4 when Goannas star player Jaimi Goonan went to the box for tripping. Shortly after the faceoff, Nora Maclaine took possession of the puck in the neutral zone, passed to Elizabeth Scala who was able to gain entry into the attacking zone, and then received the drop pass from Scala just inside the blueline to hammer the puck through traffic and blocker side past Perry. 1-0 Perth, Maclaine the goal scorer with the assist to Scala at 4:25.
Eight seconds later, Scala went from provider to scorer. Michelle Clark-Crumpton gained the zone, fired a shot at Perry through a screen, and Scala was able to find the rebound first, sliding it past Perry glove-side on her second attempt. 2-0 Perth, Scala the goal scorer with the assist to Clark-Crumpton at 4:33 (I think Maclaine may be credited with a secondary assist, she passed to Clark-Crumpton before entering the zone but wasn’t credited on the broadcast).
The third goal just a few minutes later, was a virtual carbon-copy of the second goal. This time the Inferno won an offensive zone face-off, Louise McNab cycled the puck to Michelle Clark-Crumpton behind the Goannas net, Clark-Crumpton skated to the front of the net, spun around to get a forehand shot on Perry, the rebound fell to Scala, who again slid the puck glove side to increase Perth’s advantage. 3-0 Perth, Scala the scorer, assists to Clark-Crumpton and McNab at 6:24.
Clark-Crumpton, the architect of two of the Inferno goals, was the recipient of an excellent set-up from Scala. Scala found Clark-Crumpton in stride in the slot Clark-Crumpton had time and space to shovel a backhand shot over Perry’s glove and in the net. 4-0 Perth, Clark-Crumpton the scorer, with the assist to Scala at 9:19.
Brisbane immediately called a timeout to re-group and attempt to find a way to stem the Inferno’s offensive charge. It seemed to reinvigorate the Goannas; Veronica Watson was unlucky not to convert after a great end-to-end rush saw her backhand attempt snapped up by Fricker.
Scala was hungry for a hat-trick, gaining the zone and firing a slapshot at the Goannas net from above the right faceoff circle, but Perry was up to the challenge, turning the shot aside.
Both teams had chances in the back-and-forth hockey that followed. However, Perth’s defensive experience shone through with the defense quickly clearing the puck, and attacking players, out of the crease. In the end, it was Perth that would convert on a rush chance. Clark-Crumpton with the tap-in at the blocker-side far post from an excellent cross-ice pass from Scala. 5-0 Perth at 16:50.
Less than a minute later, there was a scary incident as Maclaine skated into the right faceoff circle, fired a shot at Perry which hit her right in the mask. The Goannas goaltender was in obvious discomfort and play was whistled dead.
One thing I appreciate about the AWIHL coverage is that they avoid replaying incidents where an injury occurred and do not broadcast the footage of the player being treated. A lot of viewers know the players personally or are related to them, so it’s nice they avoid broadcasting any potentially distressing footage as much as possible.
The Goannas ended the period on the powerplay but struggled to enter the zone and sustain pressure.
Just 2:45 into the period, the game had it’s first hat-trick hero. Michelle Clark-Crumpton with a spectacular individual effort to give the Inferno a 6-0 lead. She received the puck in the defensive zone, gained the offensive zone, went inside-out on the defender and fired the puck from the left faceoff circle across Perry’s body glove-side to score. The goal was the most stunning of her trio and gave her five-points and counting. The assists went to Lesleigh Bower and Tonii Larpent.
After Malcolm went to the box for the Inferno, Brisbane generated good pressure and a couple of good scoring opportunities, but once again either Fricker was equal to the challenge and ensured there was no rebound, or the Inferno were first to the puck to clear.
Brisbane began to take more risks, pinching the defense in the offensive zone, but would be made to pay with a turnover at the blueline. Scala became the second Inferno player to record a hat-trick, set up by Clark-Crumpton yet again to make it a 7-0 score line. Clark-Crumpton found Scala with a pass on a 2-on-1 rush up the ice, Scala took the pass inside the right faceoff circle and sniped it top-shelf above Perry’s glove to put the game well and truly out of reach. Scala was lucky to avoid injury as, following the goal, she slid into the boards after the Goannas defender’s stick got caught in her skates. The goal was scored at 6:50, Clark-Crumpton credited with the lone assist on the play.
Perth continued to pile on the pressure, ensuring the puck stayed in Brisbane’s end of the ice. That lead to another goal off a rebound that an Inferno player was first to control and convert. Isla Malcolm putting the puck past Perry off the shot from Courtney Moulton. Maclaine was credited with the secondary assist. 8-0 Perth at 11:36.
The period would see yet another goal and I think even the most partisan of Perth supporters would have felt for their opponents. In another stretch of 4-on-4 hockey Scala took the puck in the neutral zone, skated in on Perry, and put the puck glove side make it a 9-0 game. Assists went to Courtney Moulton and Clark-Crumpton at 18:27.
Both teams had chances to score as the final minute of the period expired. But Perry and Fricker did well to preserve the score line.
Just adding to the Goannas adversity, it was revealed that there would be a running clock in the third period as the Goannas were in danger of missing their flight to Brisbane. This was probably a merciful way for the third period to be played. The only thing that was in question was whether the Inferno could preserve the shutout for Fricker, or if Brisbane could salvage something out of the second half of their matchup with Perth.
Perth were awarded a couple of powerplays in the final frame but were unable to add to their lead, Perry showing good rebound control and Brisbane holding fast.
Late in the period, the Goannas were rewarded for their efforts on a powerplay of their own. The ever-dangerous Veronica Watson collecting a drop-pass from Cassie Haley just inside the blueline and firing a wrister far-side past a screened Fricker. The goal came at 16:39, Watson from Haley, 9-1.
That’s how the game would finish and indeed the AWIHL regular season. The regular season table looks like this:
It was a truly heartbreaking loss for the Goannas. They had all the odds stacked against them entering the weekend and to miss out on a playoff spot in the last game of the season is tough for any team.
However, nothing should be taken away from the Inferno. They have deserved better luck all season and finally largely made their own luck. They were clinical in finishing their chances and enter the finals with a surge in confidence.
The previous weekend they stuck with title holders Melbourne Ice and were unlucky to leave the weekend with a solitary point for their efforts, surrendering a 4-1 lead in the process. The Brisbane Goannas stood between them and the final playoff spot and they ensured they kept the game out of reach and weren’t about to allow another opponent to mount a comeback.
Third Star – Sydney Fricker. The Perth netminder finally got her first win of the season in her sixth opportunity. Perth has split starts between Sasha King and Sydney Fricker all season, so it will be intriguing to see who gets the start in next weeks semi-final against the Sydney Sirens.
First and Second Stars – Michelle Clark-Crumpton and Elizabeth Scala. Both players scored hat-tricks, both players had four assists and seven point games. The Sirens’ reward for finishing in first place is facing off against a red-hot Inferno team that has shown they can score in bunches this season. Malcolm, Maclaine, and Moulton have all shown that they too can provide offense when needed. Both semi-finals matchups are shaping up to be very competitive matches.
As always, you can watch the games on the AWIHL YouTube channel (make sure you subscribe). Stay tuned to this site for a Finals preview article. Fingers-crossed I will be able to get some comments from members of each of the teams involved to include in the article. Fans can buy tickets to the finals series from finals.awihllive.com.
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