The Newcastle Northstars took time out from pre-season training to host their first ever Skate with the Champions at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Wednesday.
The two-hour session was open to the public to join Newcastle’s Australian Ice Hockey League players ahead of their first game of their championship defence on Saturday in Adelaide.
More than 80 people joined the Northstars on the ice. The event was the first time fans were able to meet Newcastle’s new players, including goaltender Charlie Smart, Zane Jones and imports Felix Poulin and Steve Kuhn.
They were also able to rub shoulders with returning players Robert Malloy, captain of the Northstars, Mathew Lindsay, Matt Wetini (both Alternate Captains), Tim Stanger, Hamish Powell, Pat Nadin, Liam Manwarring, Nick Mizen (goaltender), Hayden Sheard, Dave Ferrari and John Kennedy Jr.
Skating stopped briefly midway through the season as the 2016 AIHL Championship banner was raised to the rink’s rafters.
It is the sixth AIHL championship banner to be hung in HISS.
In past years, a banner raising ceremony has been done before the Northstars’ first home game on the new season but this year the club wanted to do something special to mark 15 years in the AIHL.
This season the Northstars are aiming for a third consecutive AIHL Championship.
The Northstars travel to South Australia to face Adelaide Adrenaline on Saturday then Western Australia on Sunday to face Perth Thunder.
Newcastle’s first home game will be against Sydney Bears on April 29 followed by a 2016 AIHL grand final rematch against CBR Brave on April 30.