18/03/2022 NHSL Finals game 4 – Port Adelaide Brewers v Adelaide Xtreme 0-3

Some of the game photos from NHSL Finals (best-of-5) game 4 between the Adelaide Xtreme and the Port Adelaide Brewers played on 18/03/2022 at the Ice Arena, Adelaide, South Australia.  With the Xtreme leading the Brewers 2-1 after game 3 it was the chance to wrap up the series or send the series to game 5 if the Brewers came out on top.  It would be a tall ask with their marquee player Zac Boyle out on Covid protocol as well as a couple of other players.  The Xtreme would also be missing their marquee player in Joey MacDougall for the same reason.  In goals for the Xtreme would be Jeremy Friederich and for the Brewers, Matus Trnka.  After the 5 goal rout of the Brewers by Xander Wardlaw the game before, all eyes would be him to see if he could repeat that astonishing performance again and also whether both teams would bring the intensity of game 4 to this one.  It took until the 13:18 mark in the first period before either team scored a goal, and it would be the Xtreme’s Nathaniel Benson scoring, unassisted.  Late in the period Xtreme’s David Huxley would head to the bench for a hooking penalty giving the Brewers a chance of evening the score.  However, no change the score ensued and then Tristan Reece was deemed to have tripped his opponent with less than a minute remaining and the Xtreme would have the powerplay.  Shots on goal for the period, Xtreem 18 to the Brewers 10.

The second period went the way if the Xtreme early, when at 15:20, Jared Siemens would take an assist from Jamie Woodman and slot it past Trnka for a 2-0 lead in the game.  Two minutes later the Brewers were again in penalty trouble when Tomek Sak tripped his opponent but their penalty kill unit held off the Xtreme.  With a bit over 9mins remaining Xtreme’s Huxley headed to the bench for his 2nd penalty, this time tripping, but the Xtreme’s penalty kill unit were up to the task.  Brewers Cam Pope cross-checked his opponent with a bit under 5mins remaining.  Xtreme’s Wardlaw had a 2min break for tripping towards the end of the period, before Brewers Steve Best was deemed for holding and it was 4-on-4 for the last minute, but this was reduced to 4-on-3 when Xtreme’s Woodman fell foul of the referees for tripping with about a minute left.  But unlike previous games where they would get sneaky goals right at the end of the periods, the Brewers couldn’t combine and the score remained at 2-0 in favour of the Xtreme.  Shots on goal for the period were Xtreme 14 to the Brewers 6.

The Brewers would need to get hungry and key players would need to step up to match the Xtreme who appeared more organised and in control of the game.  At the 17:42 mark Nat Benson would edge the Xtreem closer to the championship with his 2nd goal of the game, with an assist by Wardlaw who couldn’t find the goals in this game.  A 3 goal lead would be a tall ask to overcome for the Brewers, but anything can happen in ice hockey with quick goals and momentum shifts.  The Brewers frustration was evident when Cam Pope clashed with Wardlaw and the two headed for the bench for roughing minors.  Xtreme’s Siemens would join Wardlaw shortly afterwards for charging.  The Brewers again found themselves in penalty trouble as the championship slowly slipped from their grasp.  Even their very vocal rent-a-crowd couldn’t spur them on.  Sak had a 2min minor for slashing and Steve Best’s 4min minor for roughing didn’t help the cause.  With a bit over 4mins remaining the Xtreme would get a flurry of penalties, allowing the Brewers a glimmer of hope to steal the game.  Graham Charbonneau for hooking, then Adrian Esposito for slashing at 1:49.  With less than 2mins and 3 goals to get it was nigh on impossible for the Brewers.  Xtreme’s Huxley finished with a hat trick of penalties with a mere 1 sec remaining in the game, a 4min minor for roughing up Best, who received a 2min minor.  Shots on goal for the game showed the dominance of the Xtreme with 46 shots to the Brewers 29 shots on goal.

During the minor rounds it appeared the Xtreme would be the team to beat, but the Brewers had always been nipping at their heels.  However, with key players out the Brewers simply couldn’t put it altogether in this game and the Xtreme wins the inaugural 2022 NHSL Championship.  Season MVP was Brewers Zac Boyle, and Finals MVP was Xtreme’s Jeremy Friederich, who had scored the only shutout of the season.