THE Newcastle North Stars have found themselves a notch higher in the Australian Ice Hockey League standings after a strong 4-2 home win against Melbourne Ice last Saturday.
Newcastle's win at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on July 26 broke a six-game losing streak.
It came after the North Stars lost 5-4 to the Ice in Melbourne on July 20, leading to many fans and observers discounting Newcastle from making an AIHL finals appearance.
However, last Saturday's win not only buoyed the North Stars but placed them at sixth in the standings behind Perth Thunder and Sydney Bears.
Sydney has been the first team to be officially counted out from making finals following two losses last weekend.
Newcastle coach Garry Dore said he was hopeful the win against the Ice was the start of a streak that would see the North Stars finish in the top four and into the finals, to be played in Melbourne on August 30 and 31.
Both sides put on a spectacular show for fans last Saturday.
Newcastle's Adam Geric, with help from imports John Kennedy and Cody Danberg, put the first point on the board for the night just minutes into the first period. Melbourne soon equalled the game 1-all, but a deflection by Danberg saw the North Stars charge ahead going into the second.
After almost a full period of back-and-forward hockey the Ice were able to score with three minutes remaining, a power play goal resulting from a Newcastle delay of game penalty.
Not to be outdone, Beau Taylor delivered a goal with 16 seconds remaining to see the scoreboard read 3-2.
It was Danberg, with help from Matt Wetini and Kennedy, who put the final nail in the coffin for the Ice, delivering the fourth and final goal of the game to seal Newcastle's win.
The North Stars hit the road this weekend, travelling to Canberra on Saturday to face the fifth placed CBR Brave and to Sydney to face the third placed Ice Dogs on Sunday.