|Posted on July 17, 2016 at 5:35 AM|
The Botany Swarm picked up two consecutive home wins for the first time this season, beating the West Auckland Admirals 5-3 in Sunday's game to take the full six points from their last home weekend of the season.
As with Saturday's game, it was a tightly-contested and close match throughout, and despite some solid scoring chances, neither team was able to tally a point in the opening 20 minutes. Both teams were picking their chances and laying the body in some big hits from the moment the first puck dropped, eager to get the edge in this critically important final Auckland derby match of the year.
The scoring got started in the second period, and the Admirals were first on the board as Nick Henderson scored unassisted to give them the lead. Just 30s later, Alex Polozov tied the game for the Swarm on a great passing play with Sami Saastamoinen.
The Swarm added to their lead with a goal from Jared Henderson who went end to end and fired the puck past Admirals goaltender Rick Parry with a couple of nice dekes.
A third goal for the Swarm--again from Henderson--gave the Swarm a two goal lead, but a turnover in the final seconds of period two saw Admirals leading scorer Mario Mjelleli get a clear shot at the net to send the puck past Swarm goaltender Alain Giauque.
The third period had all the hallmarks of a barnburner, and once more the action got started early on, as Saastamoinen scored to increase the Swarm's lead. A minor penalty to Oliver Hay saw the Swarm penalty killers get another outing, before a powerplay tally by Mjelleli for the Admirals cut the lead back to one.
That score held through the majority of the period, and while the Swarm had three chances virtually back-to-back on the powerplay, the Admirals penalty killers did a sterling job to keep the score where it was. With just around 3 minutes remaining, the Admirals elected to pull their goaltender for the extra attacker, and got some dangerous chances as a result. A turnover near the blueline saw the Swarm move up ice with a chance on the empty net, and while their initial attempt was well blocked by some fantastic defensive positioning by the visitors, a second attempt later in the shift saw Saastamoinen ice it with his third empty-netter of the weekend.
This game puts the Swarm back into third place in the standings, one point behind the Canterbury Red Devils, although both the Admirals and the Devils have 2 games in hand over the Swarm. The fight for the playoffs looks like it's going down to the wire, with both Auckland teams still very much in the mix.
This game was streamed, and the archive can be viewed at nzihl.tv.