The Kodiak Melbourne Mustangs have remained in third spot on the AIHL ladder after another four-point weekend.
The Mustangs split their two matches in week four, starting off with a 4-3 derby win over Melbourne Ice before another shootout lose, this time against Sydney Ice Dogs on Saturday.
Parker Thomas had a dream start for the Mustangs scoring a late winner at a packed O’Brien Icehouse on Friday after the Ice had erased a three-goal deficit.
The Mustangs – the match’s away team – looked like they would run away with the game when Sean Jones and Christian Isackson goals added to captain Michael McMahon’s first-period opener.
Jones’ shorthanded effort and Isackson’s fourth score of the season came nine and ten minutes into the second period but the Ice quickly hit back with two powerplay goals.
Liam Webster and Jacob Lundgren netted just 1 minute 48 seconds apart to end the period before Webster tied the game just 3 minutes 45 seconds into the final stanza.
However, Thomas made it a debut to remember, finding the back of the net with 4:41 remaining in the game, McMahon and Matt Anderson contributing to the winner with their second assists.
Mustangs assistant coach John Moses said Thomas showed how valuable he’ll be for the team.
“It was a great debut, he’s physical and a good team player,” Moses said.
“His physicality is one of the best things about him and you could see from Friday to Saturday he had tempered his physicality to match the league.
“Coming from a very tough grinded out league where you can hit guys with a step or two, here it’s just a lot tighter and I think by game two he had figured that out.
“With his versatility to play forward as a wing or centre and also as a d-man he’s a great pick-up, we’re really stoked.”
Thomas was just as important less than 24-hours later, although the Canadian import’s two goals against the Ice Dogs didn’t result in a Mustangs win.
The home team was left to rue missed chances as they outplayed the Ice Dogs for long stretches in regulation before completely dominating their opponents in the five-minute overtime period.
Despite the final shot count reading 42-14 in favour of Melbourne, the Mustangs fell behind on three occasions before pulling a goal back each time.
The Ice Dogs went ahead just 31 seconds into the game through Tomas Manco before Thomas equalised 10 minutes later with the help of McMahonand Vadim Virjassov.
The second period saw 24 penalty minutes amassed by the Mustangs including 10-minute misconduct charges against Thomas and Bradley Apps.
However, earlier in the period it had taken just 24 seconds for the Mustangs to get back on level terms with Jones netting after Tom Crowder had made it 2-1, a minute and 11 seconds in.
The Ice Dogs hit the lead for the third time with 8:59 gone in the third period, again courtesy of Crowder, before Thomas stepped up once more, tying the game with 2:48 to go.
Overtime saw the Mustangs pepper the Ice Dogs' goal, but like the second match against Perth two weeks earlier, they were again unable to find a winner.
Crowder who played a part in all three Ice goals, and Virjassov, who finished with two assists for the second straight game, were the men chosen by their respective teams to decide the match.
After each found the back of the net to start the shootout, both scored on their second attempts following consecutive misses by teammates.
The result was finally confirmed when Crowder made it three from three after Virjassov missed his third and the Mustangs’ fifth penalty.
Moses said the shootout loss was a disappointing outcome.
“The two games (Saturday and Sunday) were similar where we had lots of possession, lots of shots, but you’ve got to get the dirty goals,” he said.
“We’re good at the pretty ones right now but we have to get better at the dirty goals.
“We poured on the shots in overtime but probably just weren’t decisive enough in front.
“We’ve lost two games in shootouts now and we feel like we were the better team all game in both of those.”
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