FOR the first time in 12 years the Newcastle North Stars might not make the Australian Ice Hockey League's finals series after two losses in Melbourne last weekend.
It is a grim reality for the four-time champions, which came after losses to Melbourne sides the Mustangs and Ice.
The North Stars will now look to break a six-game losing streak.
If the beleaguered team wins each of its nine remaining games in the regular season, the North Stars could still end up in the top four to make the Melbourne finals series at the end of August.
It is a tough job, but one which Newcastle coach Garry Dore believes his side could achieve.
"Nothing is impossible," he said.
"We now need to win each game left in the season and rely on other teams winning and losing to help us out."
On Saturday the North Stars lost 6-3 to the Mustangs, but the score did not reflect the high level of contest shown on the ice.
The North Stars hammered 52 shots at the Mustangs goaltender Fraser Carson, but were only able to find the back of the net three times.
The Mustangs were more fortunate at finding weaknesses in Newcastle's defence, gaining six goals from 34 attempts.
Determined to bring some points home, on Sunday the North Stars went out hard against the Ice and quickly put the first goal on the board, thanks to the work of import Cody Danberg.
In a penalty-filled and intense game the North Stars and Ice grappled for control.
The Ice led 2-1 into the second period, a lead that was quickly neutralised by the North Stars with goals from Beau Taylor and rookie Hayden Sheard.
One more goal from Melbourne, and more penalties, the score stood at 3-all heading into the final period of the game.
Another goal to Sheard, taking the game to 4-3, would be the final for Newcastle, but two more would be delivered by the Ice to seal the game, 5-4.
The North Stars will face the Ice in Newcastle this Saturday, July 26.