Melbourne Ice Take AIHL Season Opener

April 21, 2013 - Opening the 2013 AIHL season for the second year running, the Melbourne Mustangs took on the Melbourne Ice at a packed Medibank Icehouse.  As Georgie Bull reports, the Ice ran out comfortable winners with a 7-2 scoreline.

A passionate and vocal crowd packed out the Medibank Icehouse on Saturday night to see the much anticipated season opener between the Melbourne Mustangs and the Melbourne Ice.

The game would also mark the first AIHL game to be filmed for Fox Sports, which attracted advertising on the boards and hopefully a much larger audience for the future of the game

A touching gesture to the victims of the Boston bombings saw the excitable crowd join the players in a minute of silence before the puck drop.

The first period saw goals from Austin McKenzie and Jason Baclig of the Ice and Todd Cutter of the Mustangs. With the Ice leading 2-1 at the end of the first period it was still anyone’s game. A quiet second period for both teams made the crowd restless with the only excitement coming from a lone goal from the Ice’s Matt Armstrong as the Ice pushed their lead out to 3-1 by the end of the second period.

In the third period the Melbourne Ice turned up the heat, with the young Mustangs side struggling to keep up. The Ice scored a total of four goals for the period, with Joey Hughes and John Gordon joining the list of scorers for the Ice, and Austin McKenzie and Matt Armstrong delivering their second goals of the night. Armstrong was in excellent form with four assists along with his two goals, proving that the new white skates were working. The prowess of the Ice saw the Mustangs struggling to find opportunities in front of goal, with import Pat O’Kane delivering the first goal in two periods for the Mustangs, but it was too little too late.

Even when the Mustangs side were able to put pressure on the Ice defence, goalie Dahlen Phillips held strong making some great saves.

O’Kane thought that both teams were a little nervous at the beginning of such a hyped up match for the two Melbourne rivals. “The first period was a little shakey for both sides, and obviously they settled in a lot quicker than we did,” He said. The final score of 7-2 showed that the Mustangs were left behind in the latter stages of the game.

Mustangs coach Brad Vigon said that the game was a good learning experience for the playing group. “It gives our guys a little bit of an idea of the level they need to be on if they want to compete this year.”

The Ice proved that they will be tough to beat this AIHL season, while the Mustangs showed that they aren’t quite there yet but did show some promise. The Mustangs will need to look at trying to match the intensity of teams like the Ice for the full three periods if they are going to be competitive this season.

By Georgie Bull, Hewitt Sports Network 

You have no rights to post comments