The curtain has fallen on the opening contest of the 2019 Trans-Tasman Challenge and the hometown crowd couldn’t be happier. The defending champion New Zealand Ice Blacks were up to the task, taking Game 1 with a final score of 6-4.
If there was any rust in the Ice Blacks’ skates from their weeks of rest since the end of the NZIHL season it certainly didn’t show. They scored two snakebite-quick goals in the first period of play, catching the Roos on their back skate and leaving them facing a sudden deficit.
While the Roos were able to steady the ship and claw one back before the period ended, that early deficit would cost them. At the horn, New Zealand held a narrow 2-1 lead.
The second period saw Australia rise to meet the Ice Blacks goal for goal. They refused to let the Ice Blacks sit with a two-goal margin, controlling the pace of play for long stretches and throwing a barrage of shots at goaltender Rick Parry. Parry however was up to the task, holding back against the constant onslaught to keep the Ice Blacks in the lead. The two squads traded back-and-forth goals, the score 4-3 New Zealand when the buzzer sounded.
Australia put the pedal down hard in the final frame, dominating in both possession and shots but seemingly unable to get anything past Parry. Several minutes of 4-on-4 play resulted in a quick goal to the Ice Blacks and then a retaliatory hard work goal to the Roos. As the clock wound down, the tie seemed all but certain as Australia threw everything they had at Parry. However, it wasn’t to be, as an offensive zone turnover cost Australia dearly in the final minutes, leading to an empty net goal for New Zealand.
The final buzzer sounded on a confident 6-4 victory for the home team.
Photo Credit: Winter Games NZ / Sean Beale