EAGER ice hockey fans flooded the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday afternoon to watch the Newcastle North Stars play their first game in six months.
They won the game against the Sydney Bears 4-3 in a preseason Australian Ice Hockey League tournament, the Wilson Cup.
The game was forced to a shootout after the North Stars let up a 3-1 lead against the Bears and ended 3-3 after the Sydney side clawed their way back in the third period.
Despite letting up a two-goal lead, the North Stars' coach and general manager of the club, Garry Dore, said he was happy with the result.
"We played a lot of the systems we have been practising over the past few weeks," Dore said.
"It [the result] was what I expected at this time. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome."
The North Stars hit the ice with only one import, returning American John Kennedy, against the Bears' three.
New faces for the North Stars on Sunday night, each vying for a permanent place on the league side, included "local boys" Matt Taylor, Pat Nadin and Antoine Aubin.
Taylor, a dual Australian-Canadian citizen, scored the North Stars' first goal of the game.
East Coast Super League goaltender Harley Quinton-Jones was back-up for regular North Stars goalie Josh Broekmann.
Broekmann will be the North Stars' starting goaltender until an import arrives to take up the job, after regular Newcastle goalie Olivier Martin retired in the off-season due to work commitments.
On Sunday, the North Stars had a solid 3-1 lead in the third period following goals from Taylor, Tim Stanger and Mat Lindsay before the Sydney outfit clawed its way back with five minutes to go. The game was forced to a shootout when neither team could break the stalemate.
North Star Adam Geric, who will play for Australia at the world ice hockey championships next month, scored the only goal in the shootout.
The North Stars will next play at the Erina Ice Arena against the Sydney Ice Dogs on Saturday, March 22.
The puck drops at 5.45pm.