Wednesday night saw an excellent clash between the Dundalk Bulls Ladies and Dundalk Bulls ‘B’. Originally, the 2nd meeting of these 2 teams was supposed to form part of a triple header of IIHL Development Division games. Unfortunately only the derby took place as I’m led to believe that the Belfast Eagles forfeited their game against the DkIT Ravens while the Dublin Wolves v Whalers was postponed until this coming Saturday night. However, the game that did take place was a fantastic game. Last time around the Bulls ‘B’ defeated the Bulls Ladies 6-0 in what was a thrilling contest.
Neither team had a full compliment of players with the Ladies icing 13 players and a goalkeeper. They ran with 2 lines of defence and 3 forward lines. The Bulls ‘B’ only had 9 skaters and a stand in goalkeeper. Their regular goalkeeper and one of the goalkeepers who has improved dramatically throughout the entire season, Sean Pepper, was unable to play due to an injury. Therefore Graeme Barrett stepped in and was up to the task. The game started and it was dominated pretty early on by the Bulls ‘B’. In fact, they opened the scoring while they were short-handed.
Shane Muldoon was called for interference with only 3:28 gone in the game. The Bulls Ladies then tried to work the power play but were caught whilst in the offensive zone and the Bulls ‘B’ broke. The score was 1-0 with only 4:47 gone. They then added to their tally with a goal from Miroslav Husar at 8:10 which was followed by a 3rd 41 seconds later. Seanna Conway was in nets for the Bulls Ladies and wasn’t having a great time in net as she conceded 3 goals in the opening 9 minutes of play. However, she did face 16 shots in the opening period and seemed to get more into the game after that.
The Ladies were pressing and as the short-benched Bulls ‘B’ seemed to get more and more tired the Ladies broke quite a few times and had 6 shots on goal in that opening period. However, Graeme Barrett was more than up to the task and made some very unconventional saves including one extremely impressive toe save. The 2nd period was much of the same as the Bulls ‘B’ dominated again. They out shot the Ladies 16-2 in the period but Conway was determined to keep her team in the game. The Bulls ‘B’ were unable to score a goal in the period while the Ladies came extremely close to getting one passed Barrett. In fact they will rue the goal posts as they hit them 2 or 3 times throughout the game including one in the 2nd period which whizzed past Barrett. The Ladies were led in attack by Martina Palenikova who appeared to cause the Bulls ‘B’ nothing but problems. However, the score remained 3-0 after the 2nd period.
The 3rd period was even more exciting as the Bulls ‘B’ outshot the Ladies 19-4 but the play was more concentrated around the neutral zone with occasional breaks from both sides. The Bulls ‘B’ scored an early goal with Miroslav Husar getting his 2nd of the night at 33:18. However, it was then the Ladies turn to score and finally take advantage of all that pressure they put on the Bulls ‘B’. Martina Palenikova made the break-through at 42:40 to her team’s delight. A well deserved goal and it was always coming, it was just a case of when. The Bulls ‘B’ then responded with a goal from Maxim Bikhovsky to finish the scoring at 5-1.
A rather excellent game and a very clean game with the Ladies picking up 6 minutes in minors and the Bulls ‘B’ picking up 4 minutes. In net for the Bulls Ladies, Conway faced 51 shots and stopped 46 for a 90.2 % save percentage. On the other side, Barrett was 8 minutes from his first shutout in his first game. However, he did face 12 shots and stop 11 of them for a 91.7% save percentage. He did an excellent job in nets and his team knows they can count on him next time if needed. Although I’m sure they will be hoping Sean Pepper is fit as they make a final playoff push.