Report by Travis Crickard, Botany Swarm Assistant Coach
The NZIHL opened its 2018 season this past weekend, and the Swarm were in action hosting the Canterbury Red Devils in a pair of games. With the season in its infancy, it was paramount to start the season on the right foot following dismal 2017 campaigns by both clubs.
On Saturday it marked the first time seven new members would wear the Swarm jersey. The new members include imports Colin Langham (USA), Harry Ferguson (Scotland), Lucas Bombardier (USA) and Declan Weir (Ireland), and off-season acquisitions Tim McKay (UK), Matas Barakauskas and Remy Sandoy.
Game 1 – Saturday 26 May
The Swarm got off to a quick start in the first period by achieving a 2-0 score on goals from Harry Ferguson and Tim McKay, both setup by Stephen Mawson. The second period saw the Swarm’s flow disrupted, with the team taking four minor penalties. These penalties gave the Red Devils an opportunity to get back into the game with two goals coming from their import Ross Venus.
The Swarm’s Lucas Bombardier put the Swarm back in the driver’s seat, bringing the store to 3-2. Jordan Challis and Justin Fuller would then trade goals for the Swarm and Red Devils to make it 4-3. From there it was all Swarm, with goals coming from Kyle Jonsson and newly acquired Remy Sandoy. Colin Langham finished his NZIHL and Swarm debut with 26 saves while Jonas Barakauskas (brother of the Swarm’s Matas Barakauskas) responded with 25 saves.
The Hardest Worker of the Match as selected by the coaching staff was the Swarm’s Stephen Mawson for his aggressiveness on the penalty kill.
Game 2 – Sunday 27 May
On Sunday, the Swarm looked to continue their winning ways and not allow the short staffed Red Devils into the game. Unfortunately, for the Swarm – as we so often see in sport – if you underestimate your opponent they can get the better of you. After two periods the Swarm found themselves in penalty trouble and clinging to a 4-2 lead after marching their way back from a 2-1 deficit.
Jordan Challis, Andrew Hay, and Harry Ferguson (2) notched the Swarm goals in the first two periods. The highest scorer in NZIHL history, Chris Eaden, replied for the Red Devils along with teammate Mason Rees. In the third period the Red Devils started to show their fatigue and it was all Swarm. KC Ball, Josh Hay, Alex Polozov, Ritchie Hopkinson, and Declan Weir were amongst the goal scorers in a five-goal outburst in the third period.
Joel Rindelaub finished the game with 17 saves in his NZIHL and Swarm debut, and Michael Hopkinson in relief finished with two saves. Jonas Barakauskas faced 50 shots and stopped 42 for the Red Devils while Finley Forbes stopped 6 of 7 in relief.
The Hardest Worker of the Match was Joel Rindelaub, for his two momentum altering stops during the second period, including one on a breakaway.
Swarm’s Three Stars for Round 1 are: 1) Jordan Challis, 2) Josh Hay, 3) Remy Sandoy.
It was a brilliant start to the season for the Swarm, and one that Head Coach Ian Wannamaker and Captain Andrew Hay hope the team can build on. In the Swarm room post game, Coach Wannamaker told his troops that while this is a great start for the Swarm club they need to stick with the process and keep building on what they are trying to accomplish. With a bye weekend approaching, Andrew Hay wants to ensure that the next series of training sessions are of high quality to prepare for the Swarm’s first road trip to Dunedin on Friday 8 June when they take on the Thunder in pair of games.
Saturday’s game against the Red Devil’s marked Alex Polozov’s 100th game for the Botany Swarm. It was his 105th game in the NZIHL, with 5 games played for the Canterbury Red Devils in 2015. Congratulations Alex!
Saturday also marked Ian Wannamaker’s first game (and win) as Head Coach in the NZIHL. Congratulations Ian!