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JUNE 25, 2023

Mustangs get back to winning ways with weekend sweep

Mustangs get back to winning ways with weekend sweep

Andrew Macdougall

Melbourne Mustangs took home all six points across Week 11 of the AIHL season beating the Melbourne Ice in the third derby of the season, while getting past a tough traveling Central Coast Rhinos.

In front of a sold-out crowd at O’Brien Icehouse Arena the Mustangs were able to shake off a slow start to beat their rival Ice 6-3, while on Sunday against the Rhinos it was a 4-3 win in what was a tight contest.

v Melbourne Ice
Two goals to Jamie Bourke and Roman Kraemer got the Ice on the board first with a 2-0 lead, one they would hold and take into the first intermission.

It would be a much stronger response from the Mustangs in the second period, Ice goaltender Michael James would turn back the clock and deny the Mustangs for 28 minutes until a Thomas Flack unassisted goal got the home team going.

Four different goal scorers would hit the scoresheet during the second period as the Mustangs took control of the game.

Goals from Brendan McDowell, Ty Wishart, Sean Jones and Flack would give the Mustangs a 4-2 lead at the second break after doubling the Ice’s shot count for the period.

The third period would see the Mustangs extend their lead with Wishart picking up his second of the night, and Vadim Virjassov grabbing his first. Chris Schutz would get the Ice a constellation goal, but it was too little too late as the Mustangs claimed a 6-3 win.

v Central Coast Rhinos
It was the first time the Mustangs and Rhinos had met this season and it was a tighter contest than many might have predicted.

Scott Timmins would open up the scoring for the Mustangs in a first period that was evenly matched, with both teams getting great opportunities on goal, but it was the Mustangs who would take a 1-0 lead into the first break.

The second period would see Timmins on the scoreboard again – his 19th of the season, as the Mustangs made their move to open up a 3-0 lead after Thomas Flack grabbed his second of the weekend at 18:38.

After the halfway mark of the second period, it was the Rhinos who would continue to light the lamp, piling on three goals in seven minutes to level things up at 3-3.

Goals from Alexander Wardlaw, Joakim Erdugan and Jayden Ryan would send before teams into the final intermission even and with everything to play for.

The Mustangs would keep peppering the Rhinos net – where goaltender Andrew Masters was playing out of his skin, but were unable to break the deadlock.

Then at 2:19 Mitch Humphries in his second game of the season, was able to give the Mustangs the go-ahead goal and seal the win and all three points.

Speaking after the Melbourne Derby on Friday night head coach Pat McMahon was happy with the response after going down 2-0 early to the Ice.

“We talked about that in the locker room before the game because it was the same situation last time we played them, we went down two nothing early and we came back.

“We didn’t go into panic mode obviously and I was confident that we were going to overcome it.

“But we did talk about it and it’s probably one of our issues that we are working on.”

The Mustangs were prepared for the Ice to be physical, and goaltender Liam Hughes was also in amongst the traffic with McMahon saying they will always protect their goalie.

“Well, that’s one area where we don’t tolerate, if you are going to mess with our goalie you are going to pay the price.

“I told our guys the best come back for if they want to pull that sort of stuff is to put the puck in the net and that’s what we did.”

July will see the Mustangs head on the road with three weekends of away trips before returning to home ice, something McMahon says the team is prepared for.

“Well, we have a couple of tough games coming up against the [Sydney] Bears, we got two in Sydney.

“So, obviously we are going to be just working hard in practice knowing that we have got a couple of tough road trips.

“I think we are well prepared for it; we have been working all season towards peaking at the right time and I everything looks pretty good.”



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