The North Stars met the Sydney Bears at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday, June 17, playing their second away game in Newcastle.
A pre-season deal, which saw the Bears hosting two home games in Newcastle, was a bid to boost spectator numbers for the Sydney team.
And it worked; the stadium was packed with fans from both Newcastle and Sydney, making the rink standing room only.
The Bears managed to keep the puck in the North Stars zone for much of the first period, but captain Ray Sheffield and Alaskan import Brian Bales teamed up to break down the ice and deliver the North Stars first goal of the night.
For the second half of the first period the Bears and the North Stars played end-to-end, going back and forward with no more breaks down the ice until 17 seconds were remaining.
Bales and Canadian import Jeremy Boyer brought the puck right to the front of the Bears net, Bales aiming a straight shot at goaltender Michael Smart’s leg pads.
What looked like a sure save was followed by a mad scramble by the Bears defense to stop the puck going over the red line as it slipped through Smart’s pads, out the other side and into the net.
The first period ended 2-0 the North Stars way.
The Bears rallied in the second period, successfully killing three Newcastle power plays and scoring their lone goal of the game.
Bears captain Michael Schlamp made most of Sydney’s power play with 1:11 left on the clock, delivering the only shot from 30 attempts on goal to make it past North Stars goalie Olivier Martin.
One more Newcastle goal from import Kevin Day just seconds into in the third period – the on-the-fly shot landed perfectly behind the ear of Smart and into the top left corner of the net – saw the game end 3-1.
It was Day’s third goal as a North Star, he made two in Canberra in their last game on May 26, but his goal on Sunday was his first at the HISS.
North Stars coach Garry Doré said that while it wasn’t their best game, that fact that they still won it says a lot about the team.
“It is a go-forward situation,” he said.
“It is encouraging and makes us a threat for the championship.”
The North Stars currently sit first in the Bauer Conference and second overall, trailing four points to the Melbourne Ice who have played two more games than the North Stars to date.
This Saturday, June 23, the North Stars will meet the Melbourne Mustangs for the first time this season.
Be sure to get your tickets by phoning the HISS on 4954 4499.