Sunday, May 13, 2018 - Submitted by Ellie-Marie Watts
The Proski Newcastle Northstars return home from Melbourne tonight bruised and a little bloody, but also with six points.
In their first double header for the 2018 Australian Ice Hockey League season, the Northstars travelled to Victoria to face 2017 AIHL champions Melbourne Ice on Saturday and Melbourne Mustangs on Sunday, claiming two regulation wins.
It was the first time since the start of the season in April that the entire Northstars squad was on the ice together. All five Northstars who represented Australia at the IIHF World Championships were back and available to play on the weekend.
Saturday's game against Ice was physical, filled with penalties and came own to the buzzer - literally.
Robert Haselhurst scored the game-winning goal as the clock ticked down to 00:00.
The final score was 5-4.
The Northstars were dominant in the opening period of Saturday's game. Imports Joe Harcharik and Nick Rivait gave Newcastle a 2-0 lead in the first period.
Melbourne rallied for the second period, levelling the game 2-2.
One more from Harcharik gave Newcastle an edge over Ice going into period three.
Harcharik scored first in the final period - a hat trick - that saw Newcastle with a 4-2 lead over Ice. The third goal saw Harcharik hit 100 points in the AIHL.
Two goals from Ice late in period three saw the game levelled at 4-4, broken on the buzzer by Hazelhurt.
Zane Jones was a big, physical feature in Saturday's game. A big hit on Ice's Chris Wong in period three saw Jones hit with a game misconduct, sitting him out for Sunday's game against Mustangs.
The Northstars returned to O'Brien Group Arena on Sunday for their second game of the weekend, this time against Melbourne Mustangs.
In another physically demanding and penalty-filled game, the Northstars grabbed the lead early and held on to win.
Import Sam Lawson scored Newcastle's first goal in period one - his first of the season.
Shortly after, the game was brought to a halt when Northstars import Tomas Landa was cut on the face by the skate of a Melbourne player.
Melbourne's Brett Ferguson was also taken to hospital for stitches after an accidental high stick caught him in the face during period one.
After the ice was cleaned of blood, the game resumed. Landa received stitches to his right cheek. However, he was back on the ice in a fresh jersey, bandage and wearing a full face cage for the rest of the game.
Import Nick Rivait and local defenceman Hamish Powell extended Newcastle's lead to 3-1 in period two.
It was the Mustangs who struck first in period three, but another from Rivait had the game all but tied up with 11 minutes to go. One more from Mustangs, to take the game to 4-3, was not enough to take the win from Newcastle.
Newcastle goaltender Dayne Davis stood tall for the Northstars in net all weekend.
According to Northstars manager Peter Lambert, Newcastle's last six point weekend was against Adelaide Adrenaline at Ice ArenaA, in South Australia, on July 16-17, 2016.