Sunday, February 4, 2018 - Submitted by Miki Holmes
A familiar face is returning between the pipes for the 2018 AIHL season.
Dayne Davis returns to the Northstars after a year with the Melbourne Ice where he raised the Goodall Cup for a third consecutive year. Davis joins incumbent Charlie Smart to make up the goaltending duo.
In the 2017 AIHL season Davis played 22 games with the Melbourne Ice where he won 20 of 22 games played. In the two prior seasons, Davis was Newcastle’s first choice goalie, winning the champion both times for a personal ‘threepeat’, a portmanteau of repeat and the number three popularised by the 2012 Melbourne Ice team. “The ‘threepeat’ was a dream come true to be honest. It means a lot and it’s something that I will cherish forever really,” he reflected.
Being based in Melbourne while living in Newcastle/Lake Macquarie was a significant commitment, made especially difficult following the birth of his daughter, Willow, mid-season.
“It was very different. I found it very difficult for my family from that fact that every weekend I was on the plane to somewhere, I only had two real ‘home’ games here in Newcastle and everywhere else I was travelling,” Davis said.
Fortunately for Davis, he had existing relationships with some of the players at the Ice to help him deal with the challenges.
“They’re a great group of guys. That really drove my decision to play there and play with the likes of guys like Army (Matt Armstrong), and Baclig (Jason Baclig). It was a lot of fun to win a championship with those guys,” he said.
After enjoying a year with the Melbourne Ice and earning another championship, Dayne knew that he wanted to return to Newcastle.
“Ultimately for me it’s all about my family and being close. My wife does a fantastic job all the time and I want to be close to help out.
“Newcastle is where I started my career. It’s where I played my first two seasons and won my first two championships, and I hope to keep it going.”
True to his character, it’s as much about the relationships as the challenges of being part of a rebuilding team that he’s looking forward to after a disappointing 2017 for the Northstars.
“It was tough to see them [struggle] last year – what they went through was tough on me too. It’s great to see my friends who I have come to know and moved up here and see almost every day for two years, and be back in the locker room with them again to get ready for the upcoming season.”
Charlie Smart has a fan in Davis, who sees him as the future of the sport in Australia.
“I’ve watched him now for three years and he is great kid and he has the world of potential. He has the passion and the drive. I really look forward to working with him and I’m hoping to learn a lot from him.
“He is from the new era – some of the saves he makes and the way he moves – I’m just interested to see how he does it in practice. I’m really looking forward to working with him and working as hard as we can to hopefully bring the cup home to Newcastle.”
It wasn’t just Davis who missed being part of the Newcastle Northstars community, his games played at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium demonstrated how much the local community missed Dayne.
“When I was in Newcastle – that was the hardest. It’s never taken me so long to get into an arena than when I played the two games at Newcastle. Every time I took a step there was someone else who wanted to say hello, wanted a hug or someone who wanted to tell me that they missed having me out there. Mentally and emotionally they were the hardest games for me.
“That was the biggest thing I’ve missed, the amount of loyal fans and the fans out there.”
Davis has noticed a sense of rejuvenation and determination in the 2018 Northstars since practices began in January.
“We are extremely excited. I don’t know if it’s just myself but something’s different in 2018 than in my first two seasons.
“There’s a sense of something that we have to prove.”
The Proski Newcastle Northstars season kicks off at the Macquarie Ice Rink on 21st April 2018, and play their first home game on Saturday the 28th of April at Warners Bay against the CBR Brave. All home games in 2018 begin at the new time of 4:00pm.