|Posted on May 24, 2013 at 5:40 AM|
The Swarm's first game on home ice in 2013 was the second of their preseason series against the West Auckland Admirals. After playing to a 3-all draw a week previously at Avondale, expecations were high among the fans gathered at the rink.
The Swarm did not disappoint, putting on an exciting show to finish with an 8-2 victory over their geographic rivals.
The action was fast and furious from puck drop, as neither team was going to take even the preseason 'warm up' game lightly.
The Swarm were first on the scoreboard, with veteran forward KC Ball scoring at even strength a bare 90 seconds into the game. A few penalties followed for both the Swarm and Admirals, but the penalty killing was solid all around. Midway through the period, the Admirals were able to tie the game, with a goal from their captain Robert Chamberlain. The Swarm bounced back strongly, and took the lead again shortly thereafter on a goal from Keegan Harnett, going hard to the net. Some more penalty trouble towards the end of the period left players on both sides in the penalty box, and the Admirals with the additional minor. the Swarm were able to capitalise on the powerplay as Joshua Hay went top shelf on Admirals goaltender Greg Davis, and took a two goal lead into the break.
The second period was slightly less action-packed, with the teams settling in to play a bit of good old fashioned pond hockey, going north to south and focusing more on defense. The penalty kill units were kept busy on both sides, with six minor penalties called in total. It seemed as if the second period was going to pass without any change in the score, but a smartly executed short-handed break led to Brandon Contratto's first goal in the Swarm's jersey, and gave the home side a three goal lead to take back into the dressing room.
The Admirals came out to start the third period with renewed focus and enthusiasm, and were rewarded with a goal for Nick Henderson just under two minutes into the final frame. It appeared the score might sit there, as there was no change for almost ten minutes, despite strong pressure from the Admirals, and some critical defensive work from the Swarm, but with just over nine minutes left in regulation the Swarm seemed to find an extra gear. Brandon Contratto scored his second goal at even strength, and it was followed quickly by KC Ball scoring his second, somehow sliding the puck between Davis' pads while falling flat onto his back. Quite the spectacular move there! Contratto was able to pot a third goal to make up his hat trick when the Swarm went to the powerplay after the Admirals picked up a delay of game penalty, and followed that up with a fouth on the final powerplay of the game.
With the combination of goal scoring and a clear team commitment to playing a cohesive defense, the Swarm are off to a promising start.If they can maintain this form into the regular season, they should be well poised to make another strong challenge for the Birgel Cup in the 2013 Grand Final.