Saturday, April 2, 2016 - Submitted by Ellie-Marie Watts
THE Wilson Cup will not return to Newcastle this year following the North Stars second loss to the Sydney Ice Dogs during the preseason tournament.
At Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Saturday, April 2, the North Stars lost to the Ice Dogs 2-1.
It was the second loss to the all but AIHL ready Ice Dogs in the preseason tournament.
The North Stars may have been able to win the cup despite the two losses.
But having to concede its game against Sydney Bears in Penrith on Sunday, April 3 due to an East Coast Super League and officiating clash, the Wilson Cup win is no longer possible to win for the North Stars.
North Stars coach Andrew Petrie said it was difficult to build rhythm in Saturday's penalty-filled game against the Ice Dogs.
"Rhythm is what you hope for in preseason games," he said.
"I thought our basic structure when we were five-on-five was actually really good.
"Their first goal was fairly opportunistic, I thought. It was a bounce off some shin pads.
"Then their second goal they got as a result of a scramble. We failed to control the rebound infront of our own net, which created bit of a problem there.
"We really on had three or four defencemen for the whole game so, our D did a really good job."
North Stars fans saw regular players John Kennedy, Hamish Powell, Matt Wetini, Dave Ferrari, Pat Nadin, Jayson Chalker and goaltender Dayne Davis at Saturday's game.
Former North Stars and ECSL players Hayden Sheard and Tim Stanger filled out the ranks alongside Josh Hansen, Sam Lammert, backup goaltender Harley Quintin-Jones and new faces Antoine Aubin and Liam Manwarring.
It was 17-year-old Manwarring's first game at the top level.
Petrie said Manwarring, who has risen through the North Stars organisation's ranks, was a player to keep an eye out for.
It was the North Stars who scored first in Saturday's Wilson Cup game.
However, it was waved off only for the Ice Dogs to get it back by the end of the first period.
The Ice Dogs led most of the game, until Kennedy, captain for Newcastle, slapped a shot off the blueline to Wetini infront of the net and scored in the opening of the final period.
Former North Star and now Ice Dogs player Adam Kimbley broke the tie with five minutes remaining in the game.
The game was filled with fiery encounters.
Sydney's David Dunwoodie and Newcastle's Chalker were sent off in the first period for roughing.
Ferrari and Sydney's Zane Mcoy sat five minute penalties each for a fight in the third period.
The losses, and being out of contention for the Wilson Cup, has not perturbed Petrie.
The preseason tournament to him was a chance to see players aiming for a spot on the North Stars' bench this season play.
"The thing about next level hockey is all of your time is taken away," Petrie said.
"You don't have the luxury of two or three seconds to make a decision and how you execute that. And, very few people are ale to do that or able to do it straight away. But, I saw potential in some of the guys and had some suspicions about others confirmed.
"I think playing games always has some benefit. But, having said that, I think adding another opportunity to skate together probably didn't have a great deal of value this year."
As for the start of the AIHL season, Petrie said he was looking forward to it.
"I'm very much looking forward to things getting under way and getting serious again," he said.
"I was very glad to hear Adelaide has solved their rink problems. So, that's fantastic. That was a bit of a worry. The fact they'll be up and running is really good."
The North Stars will play their final Wilson Cup game at HISS against the Sydney Bears from 5pm on Saturday, April 9.