It was "fitting" that Canadian import Trey Phillips scored the match winner for the Newcastle Northstars in Saturday night's overtime thriller against the Sydney Ice Dogs.
Coach John Kennedy Jnr said Phillips, who arrived in Newcastle in early June, had his "breakout game" in a 5-4 victory that keeps the second-placed Northstars within reach of Australian Ice Hockey League leaders the Canberra Brave.
Phillips converted late in extra time, less than two minutes away from a penalty shootout, once scores had been locked at 4-all after the regular three periods.
"Trey [Phillips] had his breakout game for us since he's been here," Kennedy said.
"He'd been a bit sick for a while, but you could tell that he wanted it. His foot speed and ability to pull away from players just with his skates. It was fitting that he got the match-winning goal."
It was also fitting that the Canadian import sealed the win in a neck-and-neck battle with the Ice Dogs, as the game was a Canada Day clash.
Living up to expectations that the Northstars and Ice Dogs game, the second of the 2019 season, would be a tough, tight affair, it went into five minutes of extra time to determine a winner.
The Northstars trailed 2-0 when visiting pair Jeremy Vasquez and Dylan Quaile scored either side of the first break.
Newcastle then replied with three consecutive goals in the final six minutes of the second period.
Skipper Bert Malloy, Shane Southwood and Philips all found the back of the net to give the hosts a 3-2 advantage.
Grant Toulmin and Tim Crowder then put the Ice Dogs back ahead 4-3 early in the third term before Richie Tesarik levelled proceedings for the Northstars.
Kennedy said he felt Newcastle had the "better" of the contest but were unable to show that on the scoreboard. He was pleased they "responded well in the second period".
The Northstars (13-2) are now on 38 points, seven behind Canberra (16-1) on the overall standings.
Newcastle travels to Melbourne for a double header this weekend against Ice and Mustangs.
Hunter Ice Skating Stadium was on Monday announced as the location of the 2019 AIHL Finals, to be contested on the weekend of August 31 and September 1.
The AIHL Final was last held in Warner's Bay in 2012.