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

Some of the photos from the Premier League Grand Final Game 2 between the Falcons and the Jokers played at the Ice Arena, Adelaide, South Australia on 5/12/2020.  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 to the Falcons in Game 1, the Jokers were looking to even the ledger and take the finals series to a third game decider.

The Falcons would be first out of the blocks to gain the early ascendancy, when Rezek used his vast experience to beat the Jokers defence at 14:52, scoring unassisted.  The Jokers would need to cut off this danger man as he would be one of the key play makers for the Falcons.   Falcons Zolotarev headed to the sinbin for a 2min rest for high sticking at 11:15 giving the Jokers the Powerplay, but they were unable to score of the player advantage.  Deep in the period the Falcons would score again to set up a handy 2-goal buffer when Zolotarev scored after an assist from Ambrose Foster.  The Jokers after missing a few shots on goal dug deep and pegged one back with only 22secs remaining in the period with Brown scoring unassisted.  Shots on goal for the period saw Falcons Trnka facing 9 shots, and Jokers Friederich facing 12 shots.

The second period would see some undisciplined play from the Falcon resulting in double penalty at 15:13 when Henry Schlansky (roughing) and Connor Smith (slashing) headed to the sinbin giving the Jokers a real chance in evening up the game.  However, the Falcons had other ideas and denied the Jokers their 5-on-3 chance shutting down every drive forward.   The Jokers would equalise at 8:54 with Handberg scored with the assist going to Geyer and Mantere.  The Falcons however would break the Jokers confidence by scoring with only 10secs remaining in the period to take a one goal buffer into the last period as Connor Smith found the back of the net after assists from Jan Koubek and Zolotarev.  Shots on goal showed the period to be much tighter than the first with Falcons Trnka facing 7, Jokers Friederich facing 6.

The third period started off even, but at the 11:28 mark it got messy as Falcons Rezek was pinged for roughing, and Jokers Brown getting a cross-checking minor, meaning a 4-on-4 play should result.  Jokers Chen used the time well and combined with Cameron Pope and Mantere to score and level the score again.  The play got considerably more intense predictably and in the final 4mins there would be 5 penalties handed out.  First Falcons Rezek (roughing) at 3:40.  The Jokers used the man advantage and Mantere scored, receiving a pass from Handberg to go up for the first time in the game.  Unfortunately, then Jokers Noah Maley received a tripping penalty at 1:07 putting much pressure on the younger Jokers side who were so desperate to stave off a 2-0 grand final loss.  The Falcons threw everything at goaltender Friederich and he made some important saves.  With much vigour Mantere charged down the ice and scored unassisted to try not to deny his side the win.  The game then saw an ugly incident, with two Falcons players chasing Jokers Chen behind the Jokers goal resulting in Connor Smith checking Chen into boards from behind.  With Chen struggling to get up Connor Smith was ejected from the game with a major penalty for the incident and a game penalty to miss out on the Grand Final decider on Sunday.  With a mere one second left, Falcons Rezek would get a misconduct call too.  Final score Jokers 5, Falcons 3.  Shots on goal in the final period, Falcons Trnka facing 7, Jokers Friederich 11.  Game 3 was then set up to be a hum-dinger!