Thunder unwrap the Cadbury Cup in Dunedin - 11th Jul 2015

Thunder unwrap the Cadbury Cup in Dunedin Needing to win all their remaining games to make the finals, the Thunder were positive and offensively-minded from the opening face-off. The game began inauspiciously for the Admirals, with a penalty after only 12 seconds. In spite of the early setback the Admirals broke the play up effectively to kill the threat.

Shortly thereafter the Thunder created a great opportunity when Joe Orr shot deflected high in front of goal, Paris Heyd had to wait what must have seemed like 15 minutes for the puck to return to earth, but when it did he was unable to direct it into the open net.

The high quality scoring opportunities in first half of the first period fell mostly to the Thunder, with many other promising moves failing with a mistimed or misdirected pass.

Admiral’s coach Csaba Kercso-Magos will have been concerned at the ease with which his team's defensemen were willing to surrender possession along with the number poorly directed passes out of the defensive zone.
As the period grew old Thunder captain Paris Heyd seemed regularly able to mesmerise the Auckland defensemen, they watched him weave through heavy traffic to create scoring opportunities out of thin, cold Dunedin air.
The deadlock appeared to have been broken with 23 seconds to go, when a low shot from Finnish import Hannu Harju crept under the goaltender's pads only for the goal to be waved off as the posts had been dislodged, and the period ended as it had begun.

In spite of the stalemate Thunder coach Janos Kaszala will have been pleased at the improvement in his team's defensive effort and at the number of high quality scoring opportunities created.
The first clear chance of the second period fell to the Admirals when a poor clearance gave them a 2 on none possession in front of Czech net minder Jakub Pyrochta. Pyrochta won that battle. A few moments later the scorekeepers were called into action as Thunder's Matt Enright drove the puck home from Pickering/Orr. The Admirals' response was swift, with quick-fire goals from Braden Smith and a near-post beauty from Justin Daigle. The Daigle goal, in particular, was a marvellous example of skill and teamwork.

Undeterred by the setbacks, Thunder continued to press and Bradley Apps found himself on the loose puck with the time and skill to drive the puck low and hard into Kercso-Magos' net. Two minutes later a beautiful outlet pass from Tristan Darling onto Heyd's stick left him the space to weave his magic, and it was magic that he wove, 3-2 Thunder. Heyd was crucial also to the fourth goal as he sent a long high pass from beside his own goal to centre ice where Bradley Apps collected and again showed his finishing aptitude. Barely a minute later the Thunder sticks were again raised in celebration as the fifth goal of the period entered the Auckland net, courtesy of Joe Orr. The goal marked the last action for Csaba Kercso-Magos Jr as he vacated the crease in favour of Rick Parry. The free-scoring action continued, this time at the other end as the puck fell to Braden Smith from an offensive zone face off which he happily drove under Pyrochta. After a scoreless first period, few would have predicted that the lamp would light 8 times in the second.

The early exchanges in the third period were even, the open and free flowing style of the second period was quickly restored. Players and spectators alike were breathless as scoring opportunities were created and defused in rapid succession in front of both nets.
With Tom Tracy and Hannu Harju both enjoying 2 minute sabbaticals for roughing, the open ice permitted chances aplenty, though without change in the score. A further penalty to Henderson left the Thunder with an extended power play, but the Admirals' penalty kill performed admirably.
With 3:46 left to play the Admirals' Robert Chamberlain made the most of his opportunity to bring his team within one. Sensing the speed wobbles and pressure building, Coach Kaszala called timeout to settle his charges. With a long 2:30 to go Rick Parry made way for a sixth skater as the Aucklanders went in search of the equaliser, but an Admirals penalty ensured Parry's break would be short. He would get a second rest with a minute left as the Admirals went all-in for the tying goal. That goal didn't come and a wonderful open game ended with the Thunder deserving of the 5-4 win, and Paris Heyd the happy recipient of the Cadbury Cup on behalf of the green machine.

Match report written by Phil Sheard

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