Putting practice into play was what saw the Newcastle North Stars produce yet another big win at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Saturday, June 23, over the Melbourne Mustangs.
The North Stars took out the game 7-2 over the young Mustangs club who seemed to have no answer for Newcastle’s play on Saturday.
The North Stars were prepared for the Mustangs’ visit, working on what they would need to do in the game to come out with the win – shooting the puck, driving the goal, and making opportunities happen.
“We worked all week on shooting the goal, making opportunities happen and as a result of that it all came to fruition [on Saturday] with seven goals,” said coach Garry Doré.
Capitalising on opportunities was what defined the game on Saturday.
While the Mustangs seemed to spent a lot of time in front of the North Stars net, they had no answer to Newcastle’s defence, and were unable to organise themselves to produce goals.
The North Stars made goals happen, setting up around the net, patiently waiting for opportunities as well as breaking down the ice and shooting rather than passing off.
Kevin Day produced the North Stars first goal in the game; his first home game goal too.
Mustangs captain Shane Hardy equalised the game with a goal that just slipped through Olivier Martin’s pads.
Hardy had a solid performance in Saturday’s game, continually putting himself on the line defensively, and leading the Mustang’s sporadic charges at goal.
Brian Bales delivered the North Stars second goal of the game, a soft shot that belied the precision that it took to get past the Mustangs’ new import goalie, Oliver Wren.
Rob Starke got in on the action, teaming up with captain Ray Sheffield to break all the way from the North Stars zone, down to the Mustangs end and deliver the third goal of the first period.
Bales and Day proved to be a power duo on the ice on Saturday, teaming up to each produce two goals and two assists from each other.
Tim Stanger and Jeremy Boyer joined Bales and Day to produce four goals in the second period, taking the score to 7-1.
The second period was really the Mustangs undoing.
Wren, who hadn’t looked comfortable in goal all night, was pulled for Michael James, and even though Hardy was still throwing himself on the line for his team, it seemed the Mustangs spirit was crushed.
North Stars backup goaltender Josh Broekman relieved Olivier Martin in goal for the third period.
Despite a Mustangs goal being delivered with five minutes remaining in the game by Matt Stringer, a powerful slap shot from the blue line which sailed past Broekman as he came out to meet it, the young goalie played an impressive period.
Broekman produced some big saves – one in particular where his glove came from what seemed to be nowhere to catch the puck mid-air as if it was nothing.
Doré was pleased with the North Stars performance, saying they outperformed the Mustangs in every way.
Mustangs’ coach Bill Wilkinson said they made a lot of defensive errors and the North Stars capitalised on those errors.
“Part of it is skill level,” said Wilkinson. “Not making correct positional play is what kills us.”
The North Stars are now preparing for their two upcoming games this weekend.
The Canberra Knights will visit Newcastle on Saturday, and on Sunday the North Stars will travel to Baulkham Hills to meet the Sydney Bears.
“We’re not letting our guard down,” said Doré. “We will practice hard all week to make sure we come away with six points against Canberra and the Bears.”