6/12/2020 Premier League Grand Final Game 3 – Falcons v Jokers 2-5

Some of the photos from the Premier League Grand Final Game 3 between the Falcons and the Jokers played at the Ice Arena, Adelaide, South Australia on 6/12/2020.  The Jokers under the guidance of Sami Mantere are a relatively young side and were up against a more experienced Falcons side under the guidance of vastly experienced Corey Smith with the side containing AIHL Adrenaline players in Joey Rezek, Andrew Zolotarev (captain), Dylan Pope, Quenton Tombleson and Adam Wise and AJIHL Adelaide Generals player Ambrose Foster and goal tender Matus Trnka.  The backup goalie was Michelle Coonan, a former AWIHL Adelaide Rush and Melbourne Ice goal tender.  Given some much needed experience to the Jokers side, apart from Mantere were Mitch Brown and George Loria.  The Jokers team did however contain some of the junior Adrenaline players in Andrew Chen, Brad Chenoweth, Jordan Geyer (captain) and goal tender Jeremy Friederich.  Cameron Pope, Ben Handberg and Jake Hazel are Adelaide Generals players in the AJIHL.  Backup goalie was Shane Akkermann.  After a win-a-piece in the two games so far this was poised to be a classic!

The Falcons would be without Connor Smith after receiving a game suspension from the heavy hit on Jokers Andrew Chen the night before.  Chen however returned to Game 3 after being given the all clear.  At the 15min mark Jokers goaltender Jeremy Friederich was out clearing the puck away from behind the net and on his way back out front he was slightly cut off by Falcons Joey Rezek.  In his frustration he decided to shove Rezek into the goals sending them off the moorings and Rezek sprawling.  This earnt Friederich a 2min penalty with Josh Winkler sitting out the penalty for him.   This gave the Falcons the opportunity they needed and posted the first goal of the game shortly afterwards as the Jokers suffered another slow start.  At 13:06 Falcons Rezek scored with an assist from Jan Koubek.  The Falcons in the second time in two games took an early 2-goal lead as Quenton Tombleson scored at 8:04 after assists from Andrew Zolotarev and Jarrad Chester.  With this the Jokers would need to combine well to avoid the Falcons running away with this one.  This they did with just under 4mins remaining, pegging back a goal when Sami Mantere scored with the assist going to Andrew Chen who seemed fine after the incident the previous game.  Late in the period the Jokers Mitch Brown would head to the penalty box for a holding stick infringement.  Shots on goal for the period would see Jokers Friederich facing a hefty 14 shots, against Falcons goaltender Matus Trnka facing just 4.

The second period showed a hunger in the Jokers when they made use of a powerplay when Falcons Dylan Pope headed to the sin bin at 12:11 for roughing.  The Jokers levelled the score at 2-all seconds later, with Jordan Geyer scoring with assists from Mantere and Andrew Chen.  This spurred them on and they managed to hold out the Falcons.  With 5mins to go in the period things got a bit hairy as the Jokers lost two players in quick succession to the sinbin giving the Falcons a real chance to go ahead again.  At 4:59 Mitch Brown went for interference and then at 3:04 Josh Winkler went for interference also.  The Jokers defence stood firm despite the Falcons getting some shots on goal with Jokers goal tender Jeremy Friederich able to find the puck and frustrate the Falcons forwards.  Despite lacking shots on goal, the Jokers managed to stay 2-all with the Falcons going into the last break.  Shots on goal for the period saw Friederich face 12 shots with Falcons Trnka facing only 5 shots.  The last period was set for a real showdown with the Premier League championship going right down to the wire.  Would it be the experience of the Falcons shining through, or would it be the young upstarts making it through?

The period started with a hooking penalty to the Falcons Jan Koubek at 18:34, but the Falcons defence was able to see off any challenges.  The Falcons found themselves again in trouble with the refs as Rezek was pinged for slashing at 15:27.  The Jokers this time made light work of the situation and scored only 3 secs later when big Ben Handberg planted one into the back of the net with the assists going to Chen and Geyer, both having good point-scoring games.  The Falcons would need to get back up to speed immediately and be disciplined to stop the enthusiastic young side.  Their plans were foiled when Zolotarev headed to the sin bin for tripping at 12:47.  With mere seconds remaining in the powerplay, the Jokers added another to go 4-2 at 10:52.  The goal was scored by Chen, having a barn storming game with 4 points, and the assists going to the hard working Noah Maley and Mantere.  There was still plenty of time left for the Falcons to mount a challenge.  The Jokers Marko Komazak gave the Falcons a chance to get back into the game at 7:36 remaining after a holding penalty was dished out.  The Falcons tried everything but the Jokers held them back, preserving their 2-goal cushion.  Falcons Zolotarev received a slashing penalty with just over a minute to go.  With the situation dire, the Falcons coach John Botterill had no choice but to drag goaltender Trnka for the extra attacker.  Adding further hurt Jokers Geyer grabbed a breakaway and waltzed down to an open goal with 46secs remaining.  The end result saw the Jokers managing to achieve more shots on goal in this period.  Falcons goaltender Trnka facing an unfamiliar 13 shots, and Jokers goaltender Friederich facing 10 shots.  This 5-2 win resulted in the Jokers taking out their first Premier League championship in their short 3 year history.