Admirals scuttled in Dunedin - 12th Jul 2015

Admirals scuttled in Dunedin Every game is effectively a playoff game for the Thunder, they must keep winning to keep their season alive. They brought this intensity to the opening, getting the first clear shots on goal and showing patience and composure when clearing the defensive zone.

An extended period of sustained pressure on the Admirals' goal required a sequence of saves from goaltender Rick Parry, but the pressure was rewarded at 11 minutes when Thunder captain Paris Heyd turned the puck in from a George Coslett’s pass.

A penalty for interference permitted an extended period of Thunder pressure and Parry’s skills were called on time and again. A Thunder penalty on Heyd for use of the elbow with 6 minutes to go in the period gave Auckland an opportunity to build sustained pressure, but the Dunedin penalty kill teams stood firm.

The Admirals finished the period strong with a shot ringing off Jakub Pyrochta's post, but unfortunately for the visitors, failing to light the lamp. A delay of game call against Hannu Harju allowed the Admirals to finish with a numerical advantage, though their scoreboard deficit remained.

The second period began with the Thunder still under penalty, though it expired without change to the score. The end-to-end pattern established in the Saturday game emerged again during the middle part of the period with both teams creating scoring opportunities through high quality passages of play and clean, fast breakouts.

A hooking penalty was called on Austin Konchar but during the resulting power play the Admirals' Travis McMaster was called for boarding. Following expiry of the Konchar penalty the Dunedin power play team peppered the Auckland goal, finally allowing Harju to force a rebound into Parry's net. A delay of game called on Gareth MacLeish might have allowed the Thunder to finish the period in relative comfort, however with 7 seconds remaining the Admirals appeared to have scored only for the goal to be disallowed due to a dislodged net. As a consequence of his forceful expression of dissatisfaction with the decision, Admirals forward Tom Tracy received a 10 minute game misconduct penalty and the period ended with the Thunder enjoying a 2 goal lead.

A penalty for slashing early in the third period on Bradley Apps was again dealt with efficiently by the Dunedin penalty kill team but shortly after the expiry of the penalty, the Admirals opened their account with a sharp goal to Nick Henderson assisted by Frazer Ellis and Jono Pol.

Half way thru the period a piece of beautiful interplay between Paris Heyd and Arthur Cocar ended with Cocar finding the net for the Thunder's third.
Thunder were under pressure during a Shaun Harrison hooking penalty, but again the well organised Dunedin penalty kill resisted all Auckland advances. Immediately on returning to full strength Joe Orr had the puck in the Admirals net thanks to a perfect pass from Hannu Harju. With 2:30 to go, a goalmouth melee resulted in the loose puck falling to Arthur Cocar who gleefully lifted it over the stranded Parry. The game safe, Jakub Pyrochta withdrew in favour of Barrett Wilson thereby giving the popular local goaltender some valuable game time.

What had been a hard fought but clean series ended with a scuffle between Frazer Ellis and Tristan Darling, resulting in both players getting early use of the showers. As the game wound down Harju was called for charging, but as has been the case all weekend, the Admirals were unable to take advantage.

The final horn sounded with the Thunder up 5-1.

A feature of the weekend games was the high quality of play from emerging young kiwis. Frazer Ellis, Bradley Apps, and Joe Orr, in particular, showed they are right up there with the best in the league.

So, for the first time this season the Thunder played with the consistency required to win consecutive games. They now are beginning to look much more like the team that has made the finals for the past two years. In spite of their slow start to the season, it would be a mistake to write them off.

Report written by Phil Sheard

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