DOWN but not out is how the Newcastle North Stars are looking at their recent form slump following the side's fourth consecutive loss last Sunday against the Sydney Ice Dogs.
Coach Garry Dore said he was still confident the North Stars would end the season in the top four, taking them to the finals at the end of August, despite Sunday's 5-4 shootout loss.
"We're not out of it yet," Dore said.
"We've got a long ways to go and will just have to have a great roadtrip to Melbourne [this] weekend and pick up the pieces."
The North Stars hit the ice in Sunday's game with a lot of energy, buoyed by the return of Beau Taylor and Adam Geric.
Newcastle defenceman Rob Starke racked up the first goal for the night with a slapshot from the blue line.
Jayson Chalker and Brian Bales closely followed with goals of their own for the North Stars to lead 3-0.
The lead was shortened by the Ice Dogs with two minutes to spare in the first period seeing Sydney trail by only one goal headed into the second period.
Following a second, tight period of hockey filled with big hits and pressure the Ice Dogs evened the game 3-3.
The Ice Dogs extended their lead in the final period, but one more Newcastle goal by Geric tied it all up and sent the game to a deciding shootout, won by the Ice Dogs.
"We found a way to outplay them, and then found a way to let them back in the game," Dore said.
"We just can't seem to put it all together.
"I think we got a little excited; scored three goals and dropped the ball.
"But we'll continue to practice and get it together."
This weekend the North Stars face both Melbourne teams, the Ice and the Mustangs.