11/03/2022 NHSL Final Series game 3 – Xtreme v Brewers 6-3

Selected photos from the National Hockey Super League Finals game 3 between the Adelaide Xtreme and Port Adelaide Brewers played on 11/03/2022 at the Ice Arena, Adelaide, South Australia.  Can one player stand out and control the game?  Well, yes, but of course with a team effort behind him.  That was the case with Xander Wardlaw of the Adelaide Xtreme in this game.  A mere 17secs into the game Wardlaw scored the Xtreme’s first goal with the assist going to Nathaniel Benson.  The Brewers found themselves in penalty trouble early when Tristan Reece was sent back to the bench for tripping, but the Xtreme were unable to score.  At 12:40 the Xtreme’s enforcer Dean Peterson and Brewers Ben Handberg had a disagreement with plenty of pushes and shoves to the face.  Peterson for 4mins and Handberg for 2min roughing.  The Brewers were trying everything to shut down Wardlaw but he managed to evade any big hits.  At the 8:09 mark Xander would score his second goal of the game, again teaming up with Benson and also Joey McDougall to set an early marker for the game.  Brewers Queensland-based Harley Anderson would head to the bench for tripping at 6:48, shortly followed by Handberg for high-sticking.  Then at 4:46 Xtreme’s Peterson got too close for comfort for the Brewers goal tender Matus Trnka whose stickwork on Peterson cause the two to have a stouse and both received 2mins for roughing.  As has often been the case the Xtreme set the tone only for the gritty Brewers to claw their way back in, often in the dying parts of a period, giving them momentum for the next period.  Xtreme’s big man Graham Charbonneau would be pinged for high-sticking with 41secs remaining in the period, and sure enough, Brewers Zac Boyle would score with a mere 12secs left in the period to cut the deficit by one.  The assist was from Tomek Sak.  Shots on goal for the period were 18 to the Xtreme and 10 to the Brewers.  To say the period had everything would be an understatement!

Xtreme’s Wardlaw decided a hat trick was in order, and combining with the much experienced AIHL’er Adrian Esposito did just that, with spare goal tender Peacock throwing his Xtreme beanie onto the ice.  The Brewers picked it up and wouldn’t give it back….it was found in a bin later!  Wardlaw celebrated a bit too much and the refs decided it was unsportsmanlike conduct so he took a breather for 2mins.  This only gave him time to plan his next goal and shortly after his penalty finished he would add his 4th goal to the scoreboard with the Xtreme now well in control of the game at 4-1.  Jordan Geyer created the play.  Xtreme’s Benson may have been a tad quiet on the scoreboard of late, so chimed in with Xtreme’s 5th goal, being assisted by Wardlaw and MacDougall.  It would be a tough ask for the Brewers to get back into the game, but ice hockey game can turn in a blink of an eye.  Brewers’ Tomek Sak didn’t help their cause when frustration caused him to cross-check his opponent at 4:53.  Brewers’ Anderson brought the score back to 5-2 at 1:41 with Adam Wise being given the assist.  Xtreme’s WA defenceman Jamie Woodman would be sent off for interference giving the Brewers a chance, and Sak would make amends and with a pifteenth left in the period forced through a goal to bring the score at 5-3, now gettable for the Brewers, with Tyler Leeming the assist.  Shots on goal for the period were 16 to the Xtreme, and 11 to the Brewers.

The last period was set up for a doozy with the Brewers needing to dig deep, read put on some big hits!  Brewers Dylan Pope would be under the scrutiny of the refs who found he was using illegal equipment (what???) so was out for 2mins penalty fixing the issue.  With already one bod in the sin bin the Brewers didn’t need Leeming’s slashing penalty.  And then to make use of it, guess who?, Wardlaw snuck through yet again for his 5th goal of the night (and 6pts for the game).  He was that dominant.  Woodman and MacDougall were given the assists.  Xtreme’s MacDougall was also done for slashing at 11:29, to which the Brewers took the extra player advantage and scored through Steve Best, assisted by Sak.  With the score now at 6-4, this just upped the intensity and tempers frayed.  Xtreme’s Benson and Brewers’ Tyler Boyle had some pushy shovey moments and headed to the bench for roughing minors.  Further penalties in the period were Brewers Zac Boyle (tripping), Brewers’ Best (cross-checking) and Xtreme’s Woodman (holding) but they did not result in a change to the score.  Shots on goal for the game were Xtreme a whopping 47 shots to the Brewers 29.  The best-of-5 finals series now in favour of the Xtreme at 2-1 they could win the inaugural NHSL championship this Friday 18/03/2022 or the Brewers could send it to the full 5 games.