05/03/2023 Adelaide Summer League Ice Hockey – Stingrays v Unicorns 2-1

Adelaide Summer League Ice Hockey action.  The late game on 5/03/2023 saw the Unicorns pitted against the Stingrays on a rapidly deteriorating ice surface that by the end of the game was better suited for canoeing…or synchronised swimming!  Back in goals for the Unicorns was Stoyan Shopov, and for the Stingrays, Seth Anspach, a premier league goaltender in inline hockey at Gawler.  Wearing the zebra stripes would be Jake O’Brien, son of Joel O’Brien on the Unicorns, and also Anthony Cornelius as Linesman, one time goaltender for the Unicorns in the 2021-2022 ASL season.  The Unicorns were missing quite a few players, and had to borrow some Div 1 players that had ground out a 4-3 win just before and would have been pretty tired, so it would be interesting to see how they would play against the Stingray who also were fielding a short bench of 10 players.

The playing surface was going to be a real challenge for all players as warmups showed…and it showed as players hit the deck a few more times than normal.  Play was pretty even, until at 13:30, Joel O’Brien was deemed by Jake for tripping and headed to the bench for 2mins.  The Stingrays used the player advantage and Chad Staunton found the back of the net after an assist from Deon Nottle.  Later in the period, the Stingrays went 5-on-4 as Josh Sage, from Unicorns Div 1 team headed to the bench after an interference call.  The Unicorns defence stood firm this time and the score remained at 1-0 at the first change.  Shots on goal were Shopov and Abspach facing 5 a piece.

The Unicorns seemed to be having some difficulty in clearing the defence of the Stingrays and this may have been due to water on the ice and adjustments would need to be made to the conditions.  The Stingrays seemed to fair better in the sloppy conditions and at 6:23 Deon Nottle found the puck on the blue line close to his bench and sent in a bouncing puck to the goal mouth and it tricked Unicorns goaltender Shopov as the puck sailed past his glove for a rate Dean Nottle goal, to take the lead to 2 for the Stingrays.  This, combined with the previous assist I believe were Nottle’s first points for the season, better late than never.  The Unicorns now faced an uphill battle in the trying and tiring conditions, as cracks started appearing in the ice, noticeably around the aforementioned blueline that could swallow a hockey stick blade allegedly!  Luckily, at 4:22, Adrian Quinzi, previous Div2 Unicorns player at the start of the season, found some space and rifled one past Stingrays goalie Anspach.  The assist came from Richard Kennedy.  Shots on goal were 9-5, in favour of the Stingrays who were playing the conditions a little better it seemed.

The third period resulted in no penalties and also no scoring as the Stingrays withstood anything the Unicorns tried to dish out.  With the conditions getting even worse (see photos), players were getting tired on both sides and shots on goal showed this, with only 3 a piece being put on net by both teams.  One home game remains in the 2022-2023 ASL regular season.  Hopefully the ice will improve for future games as it was getting dangerous to play on.