The Victorian Vikings and the OAMPS Queensland Blades remain the only two undefeated teams at the men's AHL tournament following the third round of matches played on the third day of competitions.
Results day 3:
Southern Hotshots –
MIA Tassie Tigers –NSW Waratahs 1-0 (0-0)
Victorian Vikings –
The Southern Hotshots have recorded the first big upset of the tournament, downing the SmokeFree WA Thundersticks in a nail biting finish while the NSW Waratahs are still searching for their first victory after going down to the MIA Tassie Tigers.
The Hotshots started the day off on an exciting note, scoring an equalizing goal with only ten seconds remaining to push their game against the Thundersticks into extra time.
Even though WA had chances through a few early penalty corners plus an open goal shot for Kiel Brown, it would be the Hotshots who made the most of their opportunities, with Tom Cleghorn sealing the victory in the 81st minute.
The Thundersticks will be extremely disappointed with this loss in which they were scrappy in the early stages, resulting in some uncharacteristic trapping errors caused by misdirected passes and an overall tense feeling being exuded from both teams.
The Thundersticks coming off two victories again didn't look the team who produced such a commanding win on the first day, while the Hotshots lifted after their loss to the Canberra Lakers and while Grant Schubert was once again missing from the playing line up, the team compensated better in his absence.
In the next match the NSW Waratahs were searching for their first victory of the tournament but were denied by the MIA Tassie Tigers.
The match started at a frantic pace, with each team taking the ball from end to end and playing some quality hockey.
However neither side were able to gain the ascendancy in the first half, as the goalkeepers were not greatly tested with no genuine shots on goal in the first period.
The Tigers eventually made the most of their opportunities after half time, scoring in the 49th minute via a Marcus Richardson field goal to take a 1-0 lead.
The game then tightened back up after this rare goal scoring opportunity and the dour struggle continued with neither side able to swing momentum their way.
Both sides had second half opportunities but neither could take advantage as the game ended in a 1-0 win to the Tigers, keeping them in touch with the competition ladder leaders while NSW still linger towards the bottom of the AHL ladder.
The third match of the day saw defending champions, the OAMPS Queensland Blades begin to hit their stride as they dominated the Northpharm NT Stingers.
Blades Co-captain Troy Elder was once again in fine touch scoring twice, while Michael Bates was also a solid contributor also finishing with two goals.
The Blades established their dominance on the match early, scoring within the first three minutes via Nathan Eglington after a deflection into the top left hand side of the goal was too good for the Stingers goalkeeper Leon Hayward. The Blades second followed shortly after through a drag flick from Jamie Dwyer off a penalty corner.
From here all the attack seemed to go the way of the Blades, with the penalty corner rate mounting. However the Blades' conversion rate was not what it could have been with a number of goals going begging. However some of the credit must go to Stingers goalkeeper Leon Hayward who tried hard all match.
The Stingers had a chance to score with 10 minutes to go after Adrian Lockley penetrated his attacking circle and having a genuine shot on goal, however it was to no avail. The third and final first half goal to the Blades was a well executed team effort with a pass from Liam De Young finding Jamie Dwyer who tapped the ball for Jacob burns who put into the back of the net, giving his side a comfortable 3 - 0 edge at the break.
Within two minutes of the second half the Blades had increased their lead by 2 goals, one goal to Troy Elder, the other to Dean Butler.
The final match saw the red hot Victorian Viking clash with the home team, the Canberra Labor Club Lakers.
The Lakers got off to a promising start when Ben Bishop scored in the fourth minute from a reverse stick strike from the top of the circle. The Victorians also had their opportunities with numerous raids on the Lakers goal, which was defended admirably by Nathan Burgers.
The Vikings did however respond in the eighth minute with a goal to Declan Geraghty, who calmly finished a crossed ball into the circle by deflecting it over an outstretched Burgers.
Play remained tightly contested for the rest of the half before the Vikings moved further in front with two minutes left on the clock, when Travis Brooks scored.
Early in the second half the Lakers suffered a blow with an injury to midfielder Ben Bishop, which kept him sidelined for the rest of the game. Fellow midfielder Daniel Hotchkis and striker Glenn Turner threatened upfront but couldn't turn it into goals.
With the game in the balance, the Victorian and Australian corner ace, Luke Dorener, turned the match in favor of the Vikings with two strikes in three minutes, making it hard for the Lakers to claw their way back.
The Lakers fought hard and pressed for the win, but were unable to impact on the scoreboard. Conditions were unfavorable to both teams but the Vikings handled them better.
This now puts the Vikings in first position over defending champions the Queensland Blades with the clash for top spot will come to a head on Sunday 2nd March when the two teams meet in round 5 action.
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