THE Newcastle North Stars will play the Wilson Cup final after two action-packed games at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium last weekend.
On Saturday, the North Stars handed the Sydney Bears their first defeat in the pre-Australian Ice Hockey League season tournament, 4-3.
Sunday’s physical game against the Sydney Ice Dogs was forced to a shootout with the game ending in a one-all tie.
A disappointing shootout result for the North Stars saw the Ice Dogs steal their first tournament win, 2-1.
“We’re minus a couple of senior players at the moment, which makes the games tougher,” North Stars general manager Gary Doré said.
“For the young players, this is a great opportunity for them and they have really stepped up.”
Doré said the Wilson Cup gave teams an opportunity to perfect play combinations and systems; work on flow and tempo and iron out mistakes that would not fly during a league game.
While the team playing in the tournament would not be the same as during the league season due to the absence of imports, Doré said pre-season games gave the North Stars the chance to build a strong third line.
Import goaltender Dayne Davis played for the North Stars across the weekend instead of Josh Broekman.
Broekman, 22, from Newcastle, was called up at the 11th hour to play for the Australian senior men’s team for the International Ice Hockey Federation world championship in Finland.
North Stars rookie Hayden Sheard had an impressive weekend, scoring a hat-trick against the Bears on Saturday and Newcastle’s sole goal on Sunday.
The North Stars will face the Bears in the Wilson Cup final at Hunter stadium this Saturday, April 18.
Newcastle favourites Brian Bales and John F Kennedy were expected to play the final game.
The following weekend the North Stars will kick off their 2015 league campaign at Hunter stadium with two games against Adelaide Adrenaline and Canberra Brave.