The CBR Brave tuned up for their upcoming appearance in the Australian Ice Hockey League Final Series with an 8-goals-to-1 win over an undermanned Sydney Ice Dogs at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre on Saturday evening.
In what was always going to be a huge mountain for them to climb, the Sydney Ice Dogs travelled to the Nation’s Capital without two of their best players - Grant Toulmin and Strat Allen - due to injury and unavailability.
The Brave were to be without League-leading scorer Wehebe Darge, but could cover this with a myriad of scoring options - having four of the six top scorers in the League this Season.
Mere seconds after the puck was dropped, the Brave opened their account. A turnover in front of the Ice Dogs’ goal was seized upon and Forward Casey Kubara tapped a rebound from the Goaltender into the net. This was Kubara’s 50th point for the 2022 AIHL Season, and moved him into equal first place in the Individual scoring leaders in the League with teammate Wehebe Darge.
Despite the Brave piling on the scoring pressure, the Ice Dogs held on and defended grimly, and the First Period ended with the score 1 goal to nil.
The Second Period began with the Brave on the attack. Despite their chances, however, they were unable to add to their Scoreboard tally.
It was the visitors who were to knot up the scores in the eighth minute of the Period. With a penalty to the Brave and the visitors on the Power Play, the Ice Dogs put together a period of sustained pressure in their attacking zone. After a series of good passes, Thomas Voller slapped a shot on goal which was initially stopped by Brave Goaltender Alex Tetreault, but the puck arched over his head and dribbled into the back of the net.
The Brave continued to attack and this regained them the lead three minutes later, when a pass from young Defenceman Nick Christensen found Brave veteran Joey Hughes behind the net. He sent the Brave Cave into raptures with a sublime effort - fighting off one defender, protecting the puck with his body and scoring with a back-handed wrap-around push into the net.
The Brave then had a period of scrambling defence with a series of penalties, which put the Sydney Ice Dogs on the 5-men-on-3 advantage. The Brave were able to successfully kill these penalties and keep the score at 3 goals to 1 at the end of the Second Period.
Despite their corresponding positions on the AIHL ladder, the scoreline for this game was kept close through two Periods - but there was a sense that something was going to give. Tensions were rising after some big hits from both teams, and a lop-sided shot count threatened to overwhelm the Ice Dogs.
It didn’t take take long for the Brave to convert an opportunity, with Import Defenceman Garret Cockerill accepting a pass and threading a long-range shot through traffic to find the back of the net and make the score 4 goals to 1.
The Brave continued to press, but could not find another goal. It was not until after the half-way mark of the Final Period that the Brave scored again - when a long-range pass from Defenceman Mike Giorgi found a surging Casey Kubara, who calmly beat Ice Dogs Goaltender Jakob Doornbos to slot home his second goal for the evening.
Seconds later the Brave extended their lead, when a precision pass from Casey Kubara found Import Mario Trabucco who faked a shot then scored with a back-handed tap into the top of the net past the sprawling Ice Dogs Goalie.
The Ice Dogs immediately took their Time Out to slow the scoring, but barely a minute later tensions boiled over and a number of penalties were handed out to members of both teams over a physical clash and its aftermath.
This only served to put the Brave back on the Power Play and give them a five-minute man advantage, which they put to good use on the scoreboard.
Import Garret Cockerill made the score 7 goals to 1, when he smashed a one-timer past the Goaltender from high on the blue line - after some slick passing around the Brave’s Offensive Zone.
Brave Forward Andy Camenzind completed the scoring for the Brave, after a series of strikes on goal overwhelmed the Ice Dogs defence and Camenzind’s long-range shot found the back of the net.
The final score was a lop-sided 8-goals-to-1 win for the Brave over the Ice Dogs - and a shot count of 50 to 12 in the Brave’s favour (21 shots to 1 in the Third Period alone) showed the disparity between the two teams. Indeed, Ice Dogs Goaltender Jakob Doornbos - himself a Canberra product - was the standout for his team, stopping many Brave attacks dead with an improbable save.
Saturday’s game was the Brave’s annual benefit for Canberra charity Menslink, and over $1000 was raised through a raffle for a signed Jersey and other donations. The specially-commissioned Black-and-Silver Jerseys - featuring the logos of Menslink and game-day sponsor McDonald’s - are to be auctioned and all monies raised from this will go to the Charity.
The Brave now turn their attention to the AIHL Finals, which are to be held in Melbourne in the first weekend of September. They currently sit in first place in the League, and cannot lose the double-chance for the Finals.
With the pain of their last Finals appearance (in 2019) still reasonably fresh, the Brave will be focussed on the ultimate Prize - bringing the Goodall Cup back to Canberra this season.
CBR Brave 8 - Sydney Ice Dogs 1
CBR Brave: Casey Kubara, Joey Hughes, Garret Cockerill (2); Mario Trabucco, Andy Camenzind (1)
Sydney Ice Dogs: Thomas Voller (1)