ONE of the longest shoot-outs in recent Australian ice hockey history determined the winner of last Saturday's Wilson Cup tournament game between the Newcastle North Stars and Sydney Ice Dogs.
Played at Erina on Saturday, the North Stars suffered the narrowest of defeats after the Ice Dogs rallied in the final period to equal the game 4-4 and take it to a shoot-out.
The North Stars went through its eligible shoot-out roster of 11 players with no winner determined.
It was decided only after four Newcastle players took a second shot at the Ice Dogs net, but not for the result they were after.
Newcastle coach Garry Dore said both sides struggled to play their usual game because of the quality of the ice at Erina.
However, he made no excuses for the way the North Stars, with a 4-2 lead over the Ice Dogs at the start of the third period, ended up losing 5-4.
"The first two periods we were really on top of our game," he said.
"The last half of the third period we lost our focus and let our guard down and the Ice Dogs scored a couple of opportunity goals."
The North Stars skated out of the gate looking strong, with Newcastle player Pat Nadin scoring the first goal less than 30 seconds in.
The Ice Dogs' Simon Barg tied up the first period to end it 1-1.
Goals by North Stars Adam Geric and Nick Quirk minutes apart in the second saw the Newcastle team with a solid 3-1 lead, closed a little by the Ice Dogs, 3-2, before the final period.
A second goal by Geric had North Stars fans confident Newcastle would be a clear winner.
But defensive lapses in front of Newcastle's net saw the Ice Dogs score two quick goals and end the game tied up.
The shoot-out saw player after player produce shot after shot on its opposing team's goaltender - some finding the back of the net, many others not - until two successive goals by the Ice Dogs found a way past Newcastle goalie Josh Broekmann to win the game.
This weekend the Ice Dogs play the Sydney Bears to determine who will play in the Wilson Cup final on Saturday, April 5.