THE Newcastle North Stars took advantage of playing their final games of the Australian Ice Hockey League regular season in Melbourne last weekend.
They used the double header against the Melbourne Ice and Mustangs as time to get used to the ice they will be skating on this weekend during the finals.
North Stars coach Garry Dore described Melbourne’s rink as “slower and bouncier” than what they are used to in Warners Bay.
“Every rink is different,” Dore said.
“But playing in Melbourne before the play-offs gave us the opportunity to get used to the conditions.”
Newcastle handed the Ice a heavy blow on Saturday, relegating them to fourth position in the standings – one point below the Perth Thunder.
“It was a good win,” Dore said.
The loss set the semi-final match-ups in stone with this year’s minor premiers, the Sydney Ice Dogs, to face the Ice while the North Stars will first face the Thunder on Saturday.
Winners from each semi-final will face off on Sunday to determine the season’s championship team.
After defeating the Ice on Saturday, the North Stars went up against the Mustangs on Sunday, coming from behind to equal the score 4-all to send the game into a shootout.
The Mustangs just held on to end their season with a win, 6-5.
The four finals teams now head into the finals following much controversy last week surrounding the AIHL’s decision to not live-stream the games.
AIHL teams and the commission made the decision to not stream the finals series games online like in previous years, so as to not detract viewership from Fox Sports.
However, a strong social media campaign from fans of the league saw the commission reverse its decision 24 hours later.
The North Stars will enjoy its annual presentation night tonight at Club Macquarie before heading to Melbourne again for the final time this season.