Monday, March 19, 2018 - Submitted by Ellie-Marie Watts
Tomas Landa, Paddy Ward and Richie Tesarik, formerly of the Sydney Bears, will suit up for the Proski Newcastle Northstars in 2018.
Landa, from the Czech Republic, will join returning Northstar Joe Harcharik on the import line this season while Ward and Tesarik, now naturalised Australians, will bolster Newcastle's local lines.
Ward, born in Scotland, joined the Australian Ice Hockey League in 2012. He came to Australia on a working visa and "never left".
He played for the Sydney Ice Dogs until 2014 when he joined the Sydney Bears. Now he is making the move to Newcastle.
Ward, a defenceman, said joining the Northstars was a better fit for his family.
"We've moved to the Central Coast, to Gosford," he said. "It's easier to travel to Newcastle. There's a couple of guys who live on the Central Coast so we can share the driving."
Northstars general manager Garry Dore welcomed the three former Bears, saying each fit in with the team Newcastle is looking to build this season.
"I've always like Tomas Landa as a player," Dore said. "When he approached us to play for our team I thought he'd fit in perfect with our program. He's a big tough guy, he's great in the offensive zone, he can score and he has such a great attitude to the game."
Dore said Ward was a "great solid defenceman", which is the style of play Newcastle would be looking to bring to the ice in 2018.
"We're really going to be looking at a defensive team and working hard to get enough goes to win those games." he said.
"Paddy is well known for his solid play. He's a great guy on an off the ice.
"It's fortunate for us Paddy and Richie wanted to move north and could fit in with the Northstars program."
Tesarik, originally from the Czech Republic, has had a similar AIHL career to Ward but started one year earlier. He visited Australia for a working holiday and stayed.
The forward joined the AIHL in 2011, playing for the Ice Dogs until making the move to the Bears in 2014. Like his friend Ward, he has now made the move to Newcastle.
"Me and Paddy, we come as a package," Tesarik joked. "Paddy moved to the Central Coast and I know a lot of guys here, our wives hang out together and so do our kids. I decided that I would join the [Newcastle] club too."
Ward added that he and Tesarik are friends with Northstars captain Bert Malloy and returning goaltender Dayne Davis, which made the transition to a new team easier.
"We're really excited to be part of the organisation," Ward said. Dore said the Northstars coaching staff were "excited" when they heard Richie was eager to join Paddy north in Newcastle.
"We always identified him as a great power forwar, the guy can put the puck in the net," he said.
"His solid playing, energy toward the game and his worth ethic just says what our team is going to be all about this season and he'll be a perfect fit for that.
"We expect great things out of Richie this year."
Landa first played for the Sydney Bears in 2007. He played four seasons in the Czech Republic before returning to the Bears in 2012. He also played for the Bears during the 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.
In the 18 games he played last season, Landa scored 11 goals and made 13 assists. He was the Bears' fourth highest goal scorer for the season.
Tesarik and Ward will join returning Northstar and fan favourite Zane Jones plus new Newcastle player Rob Haselhurst, formerly of Perth Thunder, on the Australian roster this season.
Catch up on the Northstars' 2018 player announcements