By Russell Reid
Perth Thundersticks let a golden opportunity slip in an exciting 4-3 men’s Hockey One loss to Canberra Chill at Perth Hockey Stadium on Saturday October 12.
The women’s game too was decided by a penalty shootout, Perth holding on for a determined 2-1 win against Canberra.
It was the Thundersticks second narrow men’s loss in as many games after being beaten 5-4 by Hockey Club Melbourne in their opening game two weeks earlier.
There was some good news for the home team, awarded two points for a draw at the end of regular time before Canberra claimed the game in the deciding shootout.
Both sides conceded possession several times early in the game, each looking to gain the ascendancy in the warm conditions.
Garry Backhus set up the first penalty corner opportunity for the Chill, who were unable to convert 10 minutes into the game.
Thundersticks striker Trent Mitton was working hard at both ends, the Kookaburras veteran important in blocking the first goal attempt by Canberra.
Midfielder Tim Geers broke through for the Thundersticks first goal late in the first quarter but couldn’t capitalise on the one-on-one opportunity for the bonus.
Defender Brayden King scored the home team’s second goal from a penalty stroke after the ball hit the Canberra defender on the line resulting in a penalty stroke.
Jake Staines opened the Chill’s account with a clever reverse-stick field goal 12 minutes into the second quarter and converted the one-on-one conversion to level the scores 2-2 heading into half time.
Kookaburras squad member Aran Zalewski set up a penalty corner for Perth in the opening minutes of the second half with Frazer Gerrard deflecting the ball wide of goal.
The defences of both teams dominated the third quarter, Canberra unable to convert a penalty corner in the dying seconds which would have given them a lead at the last change.
Kookaburras Mitton, Aran Zalewski and Tom Wickham were all involved in the Thunderticks third goal with three minutes remaining, Staines levelling for the visitors soon after.
Japanese international Kazuma Murata had a chance to put the Chill ahead with two minutes left on the clock, Thundersticks goalkeeper Tyler Lovell making a desperate save to keep Perth in the contest.
Murata, James Day and Backhus all found the back of the net to start the penalty shootout, Zalewski and Wickham missing for Perth to put them on the back foot.
Staines missed an opportunity to finish the game, the Chill claiming the extra point after Thundersticks midfielder Coby Green steered his chance wide.
Like the earlier men’s clash, the defences of both women’s teams were kept busy early with the ball shooting from end to end in the blink of an eye.
It was Thundersticks’ Karri Somerville who broke the deadlock when slotting the ball past the Canberra goalkeeper Sakiyo Asano from a penalty corner flick eight minutes into the second quarter.
Japanese international Shihori Oikawa levelled for the Chill late in the third quarter, neither team able to add to their tally in the last.
Thundersticks goalkeeper Aleisha Power proved to be the difference in the deciding shooutout.
Power cooly saved all five Canberra attempts, Argentinian Agueda Moroni finding the back of the net to give the Thundersticks their first win of the season.
The Thundersticks head to South Australia this week to take on Adelaide Fire at the State Hockey Centre as part of Hockey One round four action on Friday October 18.
Women’s Match Details:
Perth Thundersticks 1 (1) (Somerville 21’)
Canberra Chill 1 (0) (Oikawa 39’)
Perth Thundersticks win 1-0 on penalties
Men’s Match Details:
Perth Thundersticks 3 (1) (Geers 14’, King 22’, Wickham 57’)
Canberra Chill 3 (3) (J.Staines 27’/27’, B.Staines 58’)
Canberra Chill win 3-1 on penalties