Winning Weekend in Melbourne for Newcastle Northstars
Saturday, May 25: Newcastle Northstars 4 DEFEAT Melbourne Mustangs 3
Sunday, May 26: Newcastle Northstars 6 DEFEAT Melbourne Ice 4
The Newcastle Rescue Northstars will return home with the full six points available from their two games in Victoria this weekend following wins against Melbourne Mustangs and Melbourne Ice.
The Northstars silenced critics skeptical that they could continue their run of game-winning performances on the road in Melbourne by digging deep to claim a 4-3 win against Mustangs on Saturday and a 6-4 win against Ice on Sunday.
It came after the Mustangs snapped the Northstars' seven-game winning streak on May 19 to deliver their first loss of the season in Newcastle.
Northstars head coach John Kennedy Jr said he was "happy with where we are at" after five consecutive double header weekends since the start of the season and winning nine out of 10 games.
"For us as a team, we didn't step back all weekend," Kennedy said.
"Even though we were one import short we were still able to answer.
"It has been the tale of our team so far - we're a team unit. Each and every player contributes.
"Our first five weekends have been double headers. To take nine of 10 games, we couldn't be happier with the first third of the season.
"We're looking forward to the next couple of one game weekends and a bye weekend, which will be great to heal some of the injuries."
Long-time Newcastle player Matt Wetini, who stepped back from the team this season, was called up to join the Northstars in Melbourne this weekend to slot in for injured import Dominik Gabaj.
Gabaj broke his thumb in Newcastle's game against Ice in Warners Bay on May 18, ending his season with the Northstars. Wetini's presence on the team was noticed. He scored the game-winning goal in Saturday's game against Mustangs.
"It was a great play. He was able to fit in with that line right away. It was a huge step up for him," Kennedy said of Wetini.
The Northstars' Czech import Ondrej Smach ended his stint in Australia by scoring the game-winning goal in Sunday's game against Ice. The Northstars have faced Ice three out of four times so far this season - in Newcastle twice and once in Melbourne. Northstars have defeated Ice in each game.
Kennedy paid tribute to the competitive game Ice delivered on Sunday.
"Full respect to Melbourne Ice for the way they played," he said. "We knew they were going to have a stronger home team than what they travelled on the road with."
Kennedy added that the Northstars were "resilient in every way" on Sunday.
"That third period showed it with Hamish Powell getting a goal, Patty Nadin scoring one [opening Northstars goal in period two] and then Ondrej Smach. "Ondrej ended his stint in Australia with the game-winning goal. That was awesome."
The Northstars will face Sydney Bears for the second time in the 2019 Australian Ice Hockey League season in Sydney on Sunday, June 2 from 5pm.
For more information visit: northstars.theaihl.com
Photo credit: Paul Furness