Thunder Sweep Ice in Melbourne to Clinch Third Place
The C.D. Dodd Perth Thunder completed a weekend road-sweep of the Melbourne Ice to finish third on the AIHL ladder and set up a Goodall Cup Semi-Final showdown against the Newcastle Northstars.
On Saturday, the Thunder were led by a hat-trick from Keven Veilleux as they defeated the Melbourne Ice 8-1. Ben Breault chipped in with four points (1G-3A), Rob Haselhurst (1G-2A) and Louick Marcotte (1G-2A) each added three points. Goaltender Nico Viksten was solid in turning aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced.
The Thunder entered Sunday’s game needing at least a point to clinch third place and they did not disappoint in completing the weekend sweep with a 7-3 victory over the Ice in each team’s regular season finale. Andrew Cox led a balanced Thunder attack with two goals and Rob Haselhurst (1G-2A), Louick Marcotte (1G-2A) and Kieren Webster (1G-2A) all featured prominently in the win. Forward Jake Ruck chipped in with his first goal of the season with a great finish of a splendid LouickMarcotte pass to complete the scoring for the Thunder. Backup goaltender, Nick Windle, replaced starter Nico Viksten late in the third period for his first action of the season in the Thunder goal.
Thunder Return to Goodall Cup Finals Series for Fifth Straight Year
The C.D. Dodd Perth Thunder will travel to Newcastle this coming weekend for their fifth consecutive appearance in the AIHL Finals Series. The Thunder will seek their first Goodall Cup Championship and will face the second placed Newcastle Northstars in semi-final action on Saturday at 5:00 pm, WST.
The other semi-final will feature the defending Goodall Cup Champion, CBR Brave, taking on the fourth placed Sydney Bears on Saturday afternoon at 1:00 pm, WST, in a re-match of last season’s Grand Final.
The Goodall Cup Championship game will be played on Sunday, 1st September at 1:30 pm, WST.
Goodall Cup Semi-Final # 2: Perth Thunder vs Newcastle Northstars
The C.D. Dodd Perth Thunder and Newcastle Northstars met four times in the regular season with the Northstars winning three of the four contests. Despite this, the Thunder enter Saturday’s semi-final full of belief and confidence, having won 13 of their last 16 games in the regular season. Both the Thunder and the Northstars have had regular seasons that can best be described as “seasons of two halves”.
It was the Northstars who made a fast start to their season having raced to a 12- win and 2-loss first half, good for 36 points. Their second half, however, saw the Northstars struggle at times including a five game losing streak through late July and early August. The Northstars went 4-W/7-L/3-OTW/0-OTL for just 18- second half points.
The Thunder, on the other hand, started their season slowly, winning just four of their first twelve games and in early July trailed Newcastle by 21 points in the AIHL standings. A strong finish to the year, including a 13-3 run to close out the season, saw the Thunder finish just three points behind the second placed Northstars.
The Thunder will look to ride that second half momentum into enemy territory. They know that despite Newcastle’s second half struggles, the Northstars remain a worthy adversary, and it will take a solid 50-minute (and possibly longer) effort for the Thunder to advance and make their first Goodall Cup Grand Final appearance. The Thunder know that it will take their best game of the season, and that’s what they are determined to deliver.
Players to Watch: Newcastle Northstars
The Northstars are led by high scoring imports Sammy Banga and Francis Drolet. The Thunder will be looking to minimize the impact of the two Canadian forwards who are keys to the Newcastle attack. Banga led the Northstars in scoring with 66 points (25G-41A) in 28 games played. Drolet contributed 54 points (20G-34A), also in 28 games played.
Another key for the Thunder will be their ability to beat Northstars goaltender Dayne Davis. Davis is undefeated in six AIHL Finals starts and is a three-time Goodall Cup Champion winning goaltender, twice with Newcastle and once with the Melbourne Ice. Davis has been outstanding in his previous Finals appearances and the Thunder can count on him being up for the task once again.
Players to Watch: C.D. Dodd Perth Thunder
A number of Perth Thunder players have overcome slow starts to the season to finish strong and set themselves up for this weekends’ AIHL Finals assault. Canadian import, Louick Marcotte, led the Thunder in scoring in this, his first AIHL season, with 62 points (22G-40A) in 25 games played. Fellow import, Keven Veilleux, chipped in 52 points (22G-30A) in 25 games played. Local forward, Keiren Webster has had a break-outcampaign with 42 points (21G-21A) in 28 games played, while also picking up the Thunder’s 2019 MVP award.
Import Ben Breault has also been good in adapting his game to provide additional depth with a move to the second line at key points throughout the season. The move has paid off as the Thunder have been able to consistently attack with two dangerous lines and this has paid dividends, particularly in the second half of the season. Although Breault has not scored at the same pace Thunder fans have been accustomed to seeing, his all around game has blossomed and the contributions to the team’s success have not gone unnoticed.
On the back end, Rob Haselhurst’s return to Perth has resulted in a career season in which he has equalled his career high in goals (8) and set career highs in assists (23) and points (31) in 28 games played. Haselhurst will be looking to provide leadership and is hoping to show that his decision to return to Perth, after playing for Newcastle last season, was justified in his quest to win a Goodall Cup Championship. Perth’s back end is littered with experience and has developed into a strength in the second half of the season, as players such as Jamie Woodman, David Kudla and Alastair Punler have had fine seasons and anchored Perth’s rise up the AIHL standings.
Finnish import goaltender, Nico Viksten, will play his first AIHL finals game on Saturday. Viksten has had a solid first campaign with the Thunder and has displayed improvement throughout the season. Viksten has looked more and more confident down the stretch and his teammates and coaching staff believe he is more than capable of backstopping the Thunder into this weekend’s Grand Final. Viksten finished the season with 17 wins, 3.62 GAA, .884 SV%, and two shutouts.
Watch Party at the VIC!
Join your fellow Thunder fans and watch Saturday’s game live at the official C.D. Dodd Perth Thunder watch party being held at the VIC Hotel in Subiaco. Details are available on the Thunder Facebook page. We hope to see you there, cheering the boys on to a historic first AIHL Grand Final!
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