The game of hockey runs on change. Line changes, shift changes, strategies that change and mutate and adapt depending on the players, the circumstances and the opponents. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.
Sunday afternoon, when the Melbourne Ice played the Perth Thunder, both external changes and the responses the Ice made to accomodate them didn’t work. The Ice were missing some of their key players as well as Coach Paul “Jaffa” Watson. They were also unprepared for an opponent who was just as fast and physical as the Ice and who would capitalise on undisciplined penalties to surge to the lead and then further extend that lead as the Ice faded in the third period.
There’s only a month of the AIHL season left, and I’ve started looking towards the final with excitement and sorrow, because then the hockey will be over and I won’t know what to do with my life. But it seems like we’re all looking towards the finals now: who’s going to make it, who isn’t, and whose chances are still going to be decided by these last few weeks:
Predictions post for weekend beginning 28/7/2012
… I’ve frankly given up on quotes that other people will know. Go read Aeschylus’ Oresteia, specifically Agamemnon, it’s great and has lots of gore. People get killed with axes.
This weekend is a weekend of ALL THE HOCKEY EVER. Presumably to make up for next weekend, when there’s no hockey in Melbourne. OH NO. WHAT WILL I DO?!? (The answer is probably rewatch old Melbourne Ice games.)
Anyrate, on to the weekend!
The scorelines may be similar, but July’s Melbourne derby was much more of a contest than the last time the Ice and the Mustangs met. The Mustangs have continued their trend of improved play under new (old) coach Steve Laforet. Their passing is more confident, their checks are more frequent and they are finally using the speed they possess to harass opponents and be a defensive pain to play against. However, they were still outclassed even by a Melbourne Ice that wasn’t at its best. Although the Ice was only missing four players, Joey Hughes to suspension and Jason Baclig, Greg Sturrock and Austin McKenzie to injuries, they appeared tentative and possibly slightly shaky. Passes were off. Players who are normally fluid with their puck-handling fumbled. Even so, the Ice won out. 4-1 over the Mustangs.
With a Melbourne derby on the fixture this weekend, of course Jane and I, along with our guest from Perth, made the now-familiar trip down to the Docklands on Saturday afternoon. It was a thrilling afternoon out, as games against the Mustangs always are, and we’ll have a full game report up later this week. (We’d probably best not discuss the post-game shenanigans, even though those memories will last long after the details of the game are forgotten.)
On Sunday, though, we decided to break our usual routine and skip the Icehouse in favour of an afternoon footy match at the MCG. Even though none of our preferred teams were playing, it seemed like a good idea all around. Jo was new to the game of football; Jane, though a lifelong St Kilda supporter, had never been to a game; and I always love a trip to the ‘G, even when the Bombers aren’t playing. Besides, no matter how much affection I feel for the Mustangs, none of us really felt like watching them get thrashed by the North Stars.
(Yes, I’m getting more obscure with the quotations. A gold star to the person who can tell me where this is from without resorting to google.)
There are a lot of interesting match-ups this weekend. So let’s get to the predictions!
I woke up this morning to find two things which made my day before it even began: the Top 10 Hockey Hugs post on Puck Daddy, and an article about the Trans-Tasman Champions League on the NHL website. No matter how excited I was about the TTCL, I never dreamed I’d ever click on to NHL.com to see a picture of Vinnie Hughes holding the cup. Thanks for caring, NHL, even though I know it’s probably just that it’s the offseason and you don’t have much else to talk about to try to distract everyone from the looming possibility of a lockout. The TTCL seems to have gotten attention elsewhere in the hockey world, too, with a full tournament recap on the IIHF website.
But with the TTCL excitement over, it was back to business in the AIHL this week with the long-awaited clash between the conference leaders, the Bears and the Blue Tongues stepping out of their slumps in form and an unexpectedly fiery clash in Sydney on Sunday night. Read on for reports on all this excitement and the last few bits of news from Nathan Walker’s adventures in Washington.