25/02/2024 Adelaide Summer League Division 2 Grand Final Game 2 – Unicorns v Huskies 2-1

Selected photos from the 2nd game of the Adelaide Summer League Division 2 Grand Final best-of-3 series between the top of the ladder finishing Huskies and 2nd placed Unicorns.  The Unicorns had a solid 3-1 win in game 1 on Saturday 24/02/2024.  Huskies Peter Baird opened the scoring after an assist from Sam Penfold.  Then Owen McIntyre would score 2 goals (assists coming from Paul (Pavel) Hruby and Tadgh Norton, and then Morgan O’Brien and Victoria Rickards respectively) to get the Unicorns nose or horn in front.  In the 3rd period defenceman Tadgh Norton worked his pay past all the Huskies and scored unassisted in a shorthanded goal as McIntyre sat in the sinbin for a 2min interference minor.  The 2nd game would be Sunday morning (25/02/2024) with barely enough time to recover from the game in the late afternoon the day before.  Game 3, if needed, would be that same afternoon…..no rest for the wicked!

With the Huskies Division 1 team wrapping up their best-of-3 series against the Titans just prior to this game the Huskies were now desperate to give their team 2 ASL championship cups!  The Unicorns would be under intense pressure, and if the 1st game’s physicality was anything to go by it was going to be a good game for the spectators.  The Huskies blue army were in force outnumbering the Unicorns fans.  Goaltenders would be Alex Palmer for the Unicorns and Tori Kellett for the Huskies who had also just scored the cup in the Division 1 game.

With just under 2mins played Unicorns Joel O’Brien scored in close past Kellett.  The assist came from Tadgh Norton.  About 4mins later Huskies Alexander Foord would level the score at 1-a-piece after an assist from Greg Campbell.  Late in the period Huskies Renai Harvey was given a 2min penalty for interference giving the Unicorns a good chance to go ahead again, but the Huskies penalty kill unit were up to the task and the score remained the same.  Shots on goal for the period saw Huskies Kellett face 6 shots, and Unicorns Palmer face 10 shots.

The 2nd period’s intensity continued with neither team able to find a way past the goaltenders until at the 15:12 Unicorns Morgan O’Brien decided what dad can do I can do better and charged past all the Huskies players to score an unassisted goal.  Pretty special to have father both score a goal in a final!  However, there was plenty of life left in this game and Unicorns Paul Spray found himself on the wrong side of referee Connor Oxlad’s whistle at 8:02 and headed to the bench for a 2min interference minor (although the Huskies player got caught up on his stick).  The Unicorns penalty kill unit saw off the penalty, but had to do it all again at the 2:44 mark when Spray would once again be heading to the bench for another 2min interference penalty.  The Unicorns held firm and more importantly kept their 1-goal lead intact.

The 3rd period was going to be intense, to say the least!  The Huskies would be throwing everything at the Unicorns with referee Oxlad not afraid to use the whistle.  The Huskies had everything to play for and would need to apply a lot of pressure on the Unicorns who were going to play their same style of play that had done them so well the whole season.  The Huskies however needed to keep out of the sinbin which was going to be difficult when applying pressure.  Alexander Foord found this out the hard way when he was pinged for roughing at 18:30 which was the last thing his team needed at this crucial time.  However the Unicorns were unable to score.  At 10:59 Huskies Sam Penfold’s frustration cost him a 5min boarding penalty when he slammed his Uncorns opponent from behind into the boards.  This was exactly what the Unicorns wanted to take some pressure off.  They would be given an even bigger chance when Peter Baird headed back to the bench for a tripping penalty, giving the Unicorns a 5-on-3 player advantage for a full 2mins.  The Huskies penalty kill unit dug deep and saw off both penalties, a real credit to them in this pressure cooker situation!  With just under 4mins to play desperation crept in and as Huskies Mark Beckett bulldozed his way along the boards with only Unicorns old timer Frank Kutsche (me) to beat, a clumsy stop bracing for the impact sent Beckett into the boards.  Referee Oxlad called a 5min boarding penalty and discussion with the ref cost an extra 2mins.  This created unneeded pressure on the Unicorns team who were holding the slender one goal lead with 3:53 mins still to play.  The gritty Unicorns weren’t to be denied and held on in a nail-biting finish to claim game 2 and with it the Division 2 ASL Championship.  Shots on goal for the game saw Unicorns Alex Palmer face 23 shots, and Huskies Tori Kellett face 17 shots.