The weekend saw the Top of the Table clash to round out the last of the Adelaide Rush’s home games at the Ice Arena, Adelaide, South Australia. Top of the ladder Melbourne Ice were going to be a tough team to beat, but home ice would be an advantage for the Rush, although it was expected that many Ice fans might make the journey to Adelaide. The rink even had new lines! The Rush were bolstered with Natasha Farrier and Maddie Smith would be the starting goaltender. At the other end of the ice would be Makayla Peers between the pipes for the Ice.
As expected, the teams played at an even level with neither team giving an inch. It took until just over 9 minutes left on the clock in the first period before either team would score or someone headed to the sinbin to give the other team the chance to score. It would be the Ice with the chance after Rush’s Grace Kalambokas boarded her opponent. Rush’s Farrier would have other ideas and sprinted down the ice and scored truly to put the Rush on the scoreboard first. Then with a skirmish in front of goals with 2mins to play in the period, Ice’s goaltender Peers lost sight of the loose puck and seizing the opportunity Rush’s Sarah Wise moved in and slotted the puck past Peers to give the Rush an early 2-goal buffer. The assists came from Kirsty Venus and import Maya Tupper. Both goaltenders faced 7 shots on goal for the period.
As the game went on players and officials started complaining of feeling a bit off or sluggish and couldn’t explain it. The reasons would become very clear much later on. The Ice would strike back at 16:08 as Ice’s experienced Sharna Godfrey reduced the deficit to one goal. Assists came from Mary Claire Geneau and Ashlie Aparicio. Two minutes later ever the opportunist Rush’s Torie Cybulski found a loose puck and slammed it home, unassisted, and celebrated with a high kick celly. The Ice needed to strike back with the Rush converting the shots on goal better, it would be Danielle Butler, scoring unassisted that would reduce the lead back to one goal at 3-2, in favour of the Rush. Then at the 4:39 mark, Rush import Sierra Meroniuk scored off assists from the much experienced Kate Tihema and relative newbie Elana Holub, much to the delight of Meroniuk that Holub had scored the assist. The score remained the same and there had been no penalties in the period. Shots on goal for the period saw Rush’s Smith face 11 shots to Ice’s Peers facing 12 shots showing the evenness of the two top teams, despite the 2 goal lead to the Rush at this time.
What would the 3rd period bring. If the Rush won they would go top. It was all to play for, and with a 2-goal lead were in the box seat. A mere 6secs into the period, barely after the face off, Rush’s Farrier scored to give her team a 3-goal lead. The assists came from import Reaghan Pietrowski and Kaitlyn Malthaner. It would be hard for the Ice to come back from here and there was the issue of the players not feeling right, but no-one being able to know why. The Ice were in penalty trouble at the 15:08 mark as Tara Baker headed back to the bench for boarding. Rush’s Jamie Lunn was in a whole heap of pain after a clash with several players needed some assistance back to the bench. She would return later, meaning business. Lunn was also hit with a minor penalty for holding giving the Ice a chance. They would receive an even bigger chance 20secs later at Rush’s Tupper was pinged for interference while helping an Ice player to the ice. However, the Rush’s penalty kill unit denied the Ice from making any inroads into the 3-goal deficit. The Ice would pull their goalie late in the period, but this only resulted in Farrier scoring her hat trick with the open goal. That assists once again came from Pietrowski and Malthaner. So the Rush would come away with a decisive 6-2 win. It was found that the venue had high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) emanating from an unknown source, and this had impacted the way the players could play and also affected the officials and other people at ice level such as media, including myself. Forty two people were hospitalised for precautions and observations after suffering effects from the CO emissions. The CO issue was only known the following morning.