In their second weekend of dishing out double defeats, the Proski Newcastle North Stars claimed six well-earned points against the Sydney Ice Dogs and the Sydney Bears to surge ahead in the standings.
The games over the weekend were a lesson that you should never assume the outcome of any game.
The Ice Dogs were going for their third win over the North Stars this season when the Newcastle side travelled to Liverpool, but were sorely disappointed to come up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
The North Stars won the game 6-3.
“During the week we worked on what to do to beat them,” said Coach Garry Doré.
“We found systems, defended extremely well, and along with playing strong defensive hockey our goal scorers were hitting their straps and scoring.”
The North Stars had a convincing 6-3 win over the Ice Dogs.
Beau Taylor produced a hat-trick, Brian Bales had two goals to his name and a first goal for Dave Upton as a North Star.
Sunday was another lesson in never assuming any game will be easy when the North Stars hosted the Bears at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.
The weekend before the North Stars played an away game at the HISS against the Bears who only came fighting back in the third period, but not enough to win the game which ended 8-5.
Coach Doré said the North Stars may have come out a bit too cocky in facing the Bears, but were soon re-educated when they bit back in the second period to score three goals to lead the game.
Tim Stanger opened the game, skating onto the ice for his first shift and getting a goal from his first puck touch.
Several minutes later Bears import Craig Gallo equalised the game, which Bales and Taylor answered to end the first period 3-1.
The first period saw the Bears with several penalties including goaltender Chris Slauenwhite ejected from the game after a slashing call.
The Bears second period saw them with more players on the ice to get three goals past Josh Broekman, playing his first AIHL game as the starting goaltender.
“Garry is letting me get a few starts,” said the young net minder.
“Olivier won’t be here forever and hopefully I’ll be the next starting goaltender.”
Vlad Rubes started the Bears on their second period comeback with five minutes left in the period.
Tomas Landa produced the equalising third goal followed by another goal to Rubes to take them into the lead, 4-3.
It wasn’t until import Jeremy Boyer tied the game halfway through the third period and produced another goal – coming off Bears goaltender Stuart Clemie’s glove – that fans breathed a sigh of relief.
The game ended 7-4 after a lofty slap of the puck by Rob Starke, at the opposite end of the ice, slid neatly into the Bears empty net.
“Their persistence makes you realise that there are no easy games,” said Doré.
“We had to dig deep to come up with the win.”
The North Stars now lead the Bauer Conference with 15 points to the Ice Dogs 12 points.
The Bears and the Canberra Knights sit equal with six points.
Next weekend the North Stars will travel to Canberra to meet the Knights before a “well deserved” break.
Following their game on May 26 against the Knights, the North Stars don’t have a game until June 17 when the Bears host the North Stars at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium in Newcastle.
Doré said the team will continue practicing, but will have a week off for a well-earned break.