Wednesday, April 19, 2017 - Submitted by Ellie-Marie Watts
The Proski Newcastle Northstars had a fantastic turn out to its first ever Skate with the Champions.
More than 80 people joined the Northstars at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Wednesday, April 19, to celebrate winning the 2016 Australian Ice Hockey League championship and the season ahead.
Many fans and supporters also donned skates and joined players on the ice.
The event was the first time fans were able to meet Newcastle’s new players on the roster this season including goaltender Charlie Smart, Zane Jones and imports Felix Poulin and Steve Kuhn.
They were also able to rub shoulders with returning players Robert Malloy, captain of the Northstars, Mathew Lindsay, Matt Wetini (both Alternate Captains), Tim Stanger, Hamish Powell, Pat Nadin, Liam Manwarring, Nick Mizen (goaltender), Hayden Sheard, Dave Ferrari and John Kennedy Jr.
Skating stopped briefly about 7pm and most people stood centre ice to watch the 2016 AIHL Championship banner raised to the rink’s rafters.
It is the sixth AIHL championship banner to be hung in HISS.
In past years, a banner raising ceremony had been done before the Northstars’ first home game on the new season.
Northstars general manager Garry Dore said he wanted to do something special this season, as the team marks 15 years in the AIHL.
This season the Northstars are aiming for a third consecutive AIHL Championship.
The season starts on Saturday, April 22.
The Northstars travel to South Australia to face Adelaide Adrenaline then Western Australia on Sunday to face Perth Thunder.
Newcastle’s first home game will be against Sydney Bears on Saturday, April 29, followed by a 2016 AIHL grand final rematch against CBR Brave on Sunday, April 30.