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West Auckland Admirals | New Zealand Ice Hockey League

Game Report – Saturday 16 June 2018

The first of the 2018 season Auckland derby rounds between the Admirals and the Swarm is split into single game weekends, with the first game played out last Saturday 16th June at Botany, whilst the second “home” fixture for the Swarm in this round will be played at Spark Arena on Friday 22 June.

The first game lived up to all expectations, as both teams started close to full-strength lineups and played an entertaining encounter in front of a nearly capacity crowd at Paradice Botany. Csaba Kercso-Magos Jr got the start in net for the Admirals, whilst the Swarm put import Colin Langham between the pipes.

With both teams playing physical, but disciplined hockey, it was the Admirals who wore the wrong end of a lopsided penalty count. The boys in blue found themselves short-handed on six separate occasions, whilst never seeing any power-play time themselves.  The Swarm took full advantage, and opened the scoring during two separate PP’s, with firstly Harry Ferguson and then Lucas Bombardier putting the home team up by 2 with barely seven minutes gone.

The Admirals battled back with goals from Frazer Ellis and then Mike Verschuren, finishing the period tied at 2-2, and taking good momentum into the break as they stayed out of the box and forced the play at 5 on 5.

A defensive lapse early in the second period saw Alex Polosov sneak one in, as the Admirals structure in their own zone broke down. But this was quickly answered by perhaps the goal of the game, a flowing end to end move that finished with Ellis feeding a puck down low to Verschuren, who smartly picked out Kevin Phillips as he entered the zone late, and then picked his spot to rifle the puck into the roof of Langham’s net. 3-3.

Further calls against the Admirals saw them spending much of the rest of the period short-handed, and killing an aggressive Swarm PP.

Three minutes into the final period, and with a raucous band of Admiral supporters making themselves clearly heard, Verschuren finished a rebound from fantastic work by Craig Peacock and Phillips to nudge the pirate ship ahead on the scoreboard. With two more penalty kills behind them, the Admirals were holding their lead until firstly an equipment issue ruled Ellis out of any further action, and then Ice Blacks captain Nick Craig took an unfortunate tangle into the boards behind his net, which fractured his right leg.

With the Admirals scrambling to re-organise, the Swarm ramped up the pressure, and veterans James Lawrence and Jordan Challis combined to open a lane which Lawrence took full advantage of, sniping the equaliser.

Regulation ended, ensuring each team would be taking something away from the encounter, but with the ultimate spoils of a W still on offer. Head Coach Csaba K-M put out a big line of Daigle, Peacock and Phillips to start OT, against the Swarm’s equally elite trifecta of NZ players, Challis, Lawrence and Polosov.

The ice tilted almost exclusively toward the Swarm net during OT, as the Admirals held possession and set chance after chance, thwarted by great goaltending from Langham, and some desperate D. As the blue team got a change in, AJ Spiller and Verschuren took the ice, and on a turnover exchanged the puck with Spiller holding it on his stick, committing Langham before slipping a great pass to Verschuren, who came back across goal, faked, deked, and then lifted the puck into the net for the game winner. Verschuren finished with two goals and three assists for a five point haul.

An outstanding and exciting prequel from both teams, ahead of one of the marquee dates in the League calendar, as both teams will meet this Friday, 22nd June at Spark Arena, playing the matinee game ahead of the USA v Canada contest. Puck drop is 3.30pm, and entry is free for the Admirals v Swarm event (with invite).

Tickets for the main USA/Canada game can still be pu8rchased at: