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BANGA & SMACH - As Northstars Take the Ice

Newcastle’s Australian Ice Hockey League team, the Newcastle Northstars, have hit the ice with a roar with a season-opening doubleheader late last month and the signing of a new naming rights sponsor – Newcastle Rescue and Consultancy.

A nationally-accredited safety training organisation based in the Greater Newcastle area, Newcastle Rescue and Consultancy offer a range of products and services to organisations across Australia, Papua New Guinea, Singapore and Laos. Services include workplace safety training, equipment hire, servicing and maintenance and international business consulting.

Newcastle Rescue Northstars’ General Manager, Garry Doré, said he was proud to have the association with Newcastle Rescue and Consultancy, which has been a gold sponsor of the AIHL team for many years.

When the team takes to the ice this season, they will be chasing their 7th national championship and preparation for the season included a training camp at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium where players and coaching staff worked on and off the ice to improve fitness, strengthen team bonds and perfect game tactics. It also gave selectors the final opportunity to look at new recruits and some budding young players to fine-tune the final team selection.

Garry says the team has been training strongly under the guidance of John Kennedy, and the tempo is right up there.

“We have been utilising our Northstars younger local players during the practices, and we can sure see a lot of potential in a few years with these guys. Things are looking good for our future,” he said. And with the return of fan fave Sammy Banga and signing of Czech defenceman Ondrej Smach (pronounced On-dray Smash), the future looks bright indeed. Northstars fans should be hearing the line “Banga and Smach” plenty of times in 2019!

Smach comes to the Northstars after a season in France’s elite league, Ligue Magnus. The 32-year-old played 42 games for Amiens Gothiques in 2018–19 scoring four goals and 11 assists for 15 points. In the playoffs, he picked up three assists in 11 games.

Smach has an elite resume including more than 300 games in the Czech national league, considered to be one of the top leagues worldwide, along with representing Czech Republic in IIHF tournaments for the Under 20 team.

Smach will be staying for the first half of the season and is still expected to make a big impact in the Australian Ice Hockey League. Like many of the Northstars' visiting players, Smach is looking forward to trying the beach lifestyle in Newcastle and learning how to surf.

Another exciting event happening at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium next month will be the Canada vs the USA series game taking place on Wednesday June 12 at 7pm – tickets for this game and all home games are on sale now – visit the Northstars website at www.northstars.theaihl.com or call the stadium on 4954 4499.

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