Newcastle Northstars coach John Kennedy jnr has labelled his side's second period both "soft" and "embarrassing" during a 6-1 loss to hosts the Canberra Brave in Saturday's top-of-the-table clash.
The visitors scored first but then conceded six unanswered goals against the Australian Ice Hockey League leaders and defending champions at Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre in the nation's capital.
"We were way too soft in that second period," Kennedy jnr said. "It was quite embarrassing to say the least. It won't happen again in finals but it's something not to be proud of."
Sammy Banga opened the Northstars' account early in the second term after a scoreless first period for both teams.
However, the Brave responded four-fold with Jesse Gabrielle landing a double while Connor Riley and Wehebe Darge also found the back of the net. Kai Miettinen made it 5-1 in the third period before Gabrielle completed his hat-trick.
Canberra and Newcastle are unlikely to meet again, if at all, until the decider.
The Brave have already sewn up the minor premiership while the second-placed Northstars can't miss the top four and will probably feature in the other semi.
Trey Phillips (neck) and Hamish Powell (shoulder) both didn't play for Newcastle in Canberra on Saturday.
"Hopefully Trey will be right for the next two weekends," Kennedy jnr said.
The Northstars have no more away trips this season.
Instead, they can now set up camp at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium with fifth-placed Melbourne Mustangs and cellar dwellers Adelaide Adrenaline travelling to Warners Bay for a double header this weekend before Newcastle host the 2019 finals series on August 31 and September 1.