Monthly Archives: June 2013

Newcastle North Stars V Adelaide Adrenaline

The Adrenaline arrived in Newcastle with form, determination and two players missing from the last contest between these two sides, the Ouellette brothers.

Stars v Adrenaline 21 June 13 009

The puck had barely hit the ice when the Adrenaline began attacking the Newcastle blue line, paying off when one minute into the period, Travis Ouellette wrapped around the net to grab the first goal of the match and a 1-0 lead to Adelaide.

The North Stars were provided a great opportunity when Greg Oddy was sent to the penalty box however the North Stars could not capitalise with the extra man.

Adelaide seemed content to take time with their plays, effective passing keeping the North Stars defence starved of the puck and the forwards starved of scoring chances.

With 11 seconds remaining in the first period, Britt Ouellette again combined with his brother Travis Ouellette to slide the puck under a dropping Olivier Martin and grabbed a 2-0 lead.

The second period was looking like it would be a repeat of the first when at 12.00 minutes the Ouellette brothers swapped roles with Travis providing the assist for Britt’s goal and a 3-0 lead, after a drive up the middle of the ice.

The North Stars have been known in previous weeks, for grabbing a sneaky win from behind, and after being behind on the scoreboard, the Newcastle faithful could see the pattern possibly continuing.

With 4.10 left in the second period, and on a power play after Carson Sinclair grabbed pine time for checking, Domonic Osman fired a shot from the blue line which was redirected by David Upton who was anchored in front of the net to make it 3-1.

The third period was only 34 seconds old when Charlie Huber started a drive out of the Adelaide defensive zone and finished it with a goal when he deflected a Britt Ouellette pass to take the score out to 4-1.

With 12.45 remaining in the match, the North Stars began their usual fight back, when go to man Domonic Osman pounced on a loose puck in front of the net to make the score 4-2. The North Stars had appeared to have settled and seemed to be able to take the time needed to build the goals.

The crowd could sense something building when at 11.16, the come back continued by virtue of another power play, when Osman became the provider for Pier-Olivier Cotnoir who got the puck past Parry to close the gap to 4-3.

The tempo of the game lifted and the race to the finish line was on. With around 30 seconds left the North Stars took the opportunity to roll the dice and pull goal tender, Olivier Martin however the dice rolled up snake eyes when Britt Ouellette grabbed an empty netter and the 5-3 victory.

Many pundits had already written the Adrenaline off for the season but beware, they seem to be just warming up. One noticeable difference is the goal tending of Kevin Parry which was a major factor in the win.

Leaving A Legacy – Kim Couper & Jeff Martens

What drives a young couple to drop everything in Canada, put their lives on hold and travel to the other side of the world together for the love of sport, an adventure and the experience of a lifetime?

jeff kim

Photo:: Debra Jean Photography

Kim Couper and Jeff Martens have done just that to spend 6 months in Australia. Martens, the North Stars forward who is currently the leading AIHL Goal Scorer, and Couper are a dynamic couple who not only sought the chance to spend time together after a busy Northern Hemisphere season but took the opportunity to enhance the experience by working together off the ice as well.

 In Canada the hockey season goes from September to April however during Spring & Summer things aren’t quiet as intense, they encourage a lighter load on the athletes during this time, so the chance for Kim and Jeff to come to Australia worked out perfectly.

 Couper explains, “The whole idea of coming to Australia truly became a reality when Jeff called me from Europe, where he played last season and said if we were given an opportunity to go live in Australia for 6 months would you come with me? I immediately said yes, absolutely. Knowing that I could arrange my work back in Canada to suit this new adventure in our lives, was one experience neither one of us wanted to pass up”.

 Kim Couper clearly isn’t your average WAG and it is evident by the knowledge she possesses about ice skating, power skating and ice hockey in general. She has become an important part of David Ferrari’s North Stars Academy, coaching players of all levels and abilities, “I am fortunate enough that I own my own Hockey Training Company, Athletic Edge Training Co. which I have had for over 9 years back home in Canada, so it allows me flexibility in what Jeff and I do and where. I came from the figure skating world, where I skated competitively from the age of 7 for 14 years. When I turned 11 I started volunteering as a skating coach and by the time I was 16 I did schooling to complete my level 2 theory & became a certified professional figure skating coach, as well as a certified power skating instructor, of which there aren’t many”.

 The importance of what they do off the ice is not lost on Couper, “Being an import player as Jeff is in Australia creates an opportunity to leave a legacy, to pass on skills and a chance to hopefully one day see some of the eager young faces we coached, playing in North America”.

 During Jeff’s off season he is also kept busy giving back to the community as a skills instructor teaching, he has been coaching skills for 13 years for companies under Athletic Edge and it obvious to anyone who has attended their sessions, that the couple make a pretty great team.

 Within a week of arriving in Newcastle, Garry Dore had Kim and Jeff all set up to run a skating camp at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium with the North Stars Academy, a local hockey development company, out of Newcastle by David Ferrari which coincidently had it’s origins in Canada. The couple had also been approached by the Norwest Emporers Ice Hockey Club in Sydney to teach multiple sessions weekly down there, showing the knowledge base possessed by Kim and Jeff was in demand.

 To many of our Canadian friends, the images of Australia conjure up things like beaches and BBQ’s but hockey isn’t always one that comes to mind. “It definitely is a different world of hockey here, but in the end it’s about giving all the athletes, regardless of ability, the opportunity to full fill their dreams of playing Hockey, whatever that maybe. We feel so fortunate to be able to travel the world and teach internationally in places like Canada, Europe, & now Australia, to all ages and abilities, to see what hockey means to each new athlete. It’s amazing to see how much heart they have and that is another reason why I love my “work” so much.

 Couper adds, “The appreciation on their faces, both young and old while not only here but across the world, has been the best reward and the best feeling any coach could ever experience. We have enjoyed working with lots of Australia’s raw talent and like home, all the athletes seem very hungry to learn”.

 Kim and Jeff always talked about places they’d like to visit together, as they really enjoy travelling, especially together during the Canadian off season. “Jeff had met many Aussies in Chile, while living there for 4 years during his teenage years and that started to trigger his interest in coming “down-under”. He also had a few mates who had come over to play here in AIHL and highly recommended it as a must do. For us the idea of being able to have the opportunity to explore something new to both of us and spend more time together was a huge factor as well. Getting away from home and our families and living amongst our new Newcastle Family, has been a blast”.

 The time in Australia isn’t just about hockey and nor should it be. Even as we head into our mild Australian winter, Kim and Jeff have had the opportunity to take in some of the beauty the region of the Hunter possesses. “We have had the opportunity to do some amazing things so far from sand dunning and feeding camels, kangaroos and koalas the whole works, to taking surfing lessons with Learn to Surf Newcastle and house boating. We’ve been a part of many a family birthday and milestone too, none of which we will ever forget! We have some other great trips & adventures planned as well, as we don’t want to miss out on this amazing opportunity”.

 An important message that one takes from talking to Kim and Jeff is not only their passion for the sport but the ideas that dreams can take you anywhere in the hockey world and the effort you put in can bring rewards. “This amazing journey and life experience would never have been possible had the two of us not gone after our dreams and pushed ourselves. Sure, there are bumps along the way, but those bumps only motivated us both to push through. We are forever grateful to be surrounded by so many supportive people in our lives, from all over the world”.

 Early mentors are important to everyone and can make a big impact in the pursuit of dreams. Jeff recalls one comment that comes to mind for Kim almost 10 years ago now. A obviously very wise person said, ”Kim you have something different, something special in your coaching. Since then she never looked back, and things have only got better and bigger for her!

 Kim adds, “I always knew one day I would own my own business but until 2012 I never knew it would be internationally exposed. We thank all the amazing people in our lives, especially our families. They not only put us in our first pair skates but have given us all the skills to be successful and who taught us that anything is possible. And to our biggest fans – each other. We cannot begin to name all the amazing people that have contributed to this journey for us, but please know we are forever grateful that you have come into our lives, from the bottom of our hearts we thank you & you will never be forgotten!”

 The Ice Hockey season in Australia comes and goes and so does the batch of players that make the journey here to play. The Australian Ice Hockey League has now become a total experience which both Kim and Jeff prove that out get out of it what you put into it.

 Couper, lamenting on the journey so far, “It’s hard to believe we have been here almost 3 months, and even harder to believe that in another 3 we will be saying bye to all the amazing families & friends we have grown so close with. From the first day we arrived here in Australia everyone has welcomed us into their families & homes with open arms”.

 Where will your dreams take you?

 Stars v Bears 9 June 13 121

Photo:: Debra Jean Photography

Athletic Edge Training Co. is running on-going sessions in conjunction with the North Stars Academy (N.S.A) twice a week, offering a Junior Development on Sundays & an 18+ Adult Power skating session on Monday’s at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

Newcastle North Stars V Sydney Ice Dogs

The two top teams, the two leading goal scorers in the AIHL and two great goal tenders forms the recipe for a great contest at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

The previous nights victory went to the Ice Dogs in a close fought battle in Liverpool who benefited from a depleted Newcastle line up.

Going into this match the Ice Dogs would be without Todd and Scott Stephenson, so it could be finals time before we get to see both sides at full strength. But did it detract from what would be a sensational edge of your seat game? The answer is no.

The scoreless first period saw some fast open hockey, with good clean play, which swung from one end to the other. Both sides managed to penetrate the opposing blue line however great goal tending by Australian National Men’s Team Goal Tenders, Anthony Kimlin and Olivier Martin kept the puck out of the net.

The second period was a repeat of the first, with the crowd riding every shot regardless of what team they supported. Every loose puck was pounced on and fought over harder than seagulls on chips at the beach, but neither team could break the deadlock.

The first penalty of the match came at 2.19 left in the second period when Tomas Manco was called for holding however the Ice Dogs held solid with great defence by McGregor, Ward and Wilson. Could this be the game that finishes scoreless and goes to a shootout?

The third period saw some frustration as both teams strived to break the deadlock whilst fighting fatigue which was kicking in after two tough nights of hockey.

Fans were looking to Billy Cliff, Matt Puntureri, Jeff Martens or Beau Taylor to break the deadlock during power plays for both teams.

The crowd roared when the puck crossed the Ice Dogs line however it was disallowed as the puck, shot by Jeff Martens crossed the line after a whistle was blown.

The Ice Dogs had the power play opportunities with 16.35, then the North Stars had the opportunity at 10.37, but the nervous tension in the crowd increased when David Upton grabbed pine time when he was sent to the box with 2.28 remaining, giving the Ice Dogs the greatest opportunity to close out the match against four North Stars players on the ice.

During the power play, Domonic Osman, who was miked up live for the North Stars Livestream, made a drive to the net that after taking the puck from Anthony Wilson but shot wide.

With 1.03 remaining in the game and short handed, Beau Taylor slipped the puck to Domonic Osman who skated towards Kimlin, before he fired it just inside the blue line to score.

In a game that had the two top teams we saw two penalties a piece and one short handed goal. Did we get our monies worth? Indeed we did!

Stars v Dogs 16 June 13 038

Photo:: Debra Jean Photography

Newcastle North Stars V Sydney Bears

Sydney Bears V Newcastle North Stars

The clashes between the Sydney Bears and the Newcastle North Stars in 2013 have seen the Bears become somewhat of a bogey side for the North Stars.

The first period could only be described as the fast and the furious with solid checks and broken sticks with one broken stick getting more ice time than some players.

A testament of how tight the scoreless first period was, only eight shots on goals were made with three for the North Stars and five for the Bears yet both goal tenders keeping clean sheets for the period.

The North Stars kept putting pressure on the Bears yet they weathered the storm until 9.17 remaining in the second when Tomas Landa provided the assist for Slavomir Boris to give the Bears a 1-0 lead.

Stars v Bears 9 June 13 121

Just as the crowd was taking a breath and beginning to have memories of the last home game loss to the Bears, Branden Stobbs continued his combination with Cameron Todd to silence the crowd with another quick goal and a 2-0 lead after Todd took great advantage of a rebound off his shin pads.

The North Stars kept coming at the Bears and driving into their zone which paid off at 7.48 remaining in the second, when Nick Quirk assisted Tim Stanger to bring he score back to 2-1.

The third period would be a race to the finish line with the danger men such as Landa, Schlamp, Martens and Osman always driving through the neutral zone and both Renars Kazanovs and Olivier Martin working hard to minimise loose pucks.

With 15.47 remaining in the game David Upton combined with Adam Geric, who has settled into the North Stars line up to equal the scores at 2-2.

Many in the crowd were thinking the prospect of a shoot-out with Kazanovs and Martin would be worth the price of admission in it’s self, however the first line combination of Pier-Olivier Cotnior and Jeff Martens, who add to his weekend goal tally to give the North Stars a 3-2 lead, after Martens pounced on a loose puck after a Cotnior shot on goal.

With only 1.32 remaining in the match Cotnoir was again the go to man, when he got the puck to Beau Taylor to score the match winning goal and the North Stars a 4-2 win.

The North Stars kept their winning streak going and the Bears again showed they can take it to this Newcastle side by out shooting them 35 to 20 in what could have been a much higher scoring game if it wasn’t for two of the form goal tenders in the AIHL.

Craig Tonks

Josh Broekman

Broekman confident in progress

We see them but do we really see them? They wait patiently at the team benches. Waiting for that moment when the manager says, “You’re on”! This week Craig Tonks had a chat with North Stars goal tender Josh Broekman.

 

pic: Debra Tonks

 

In his role as the second goal tender of the side behind Olivier Martin he waits to be injected into the game. In such a fast paced game we sometimes overlook the importance of  the back up keeper till he hits the ice.

Speaking with the man who got the win over the Sydney Bears for the Newcastle North Stars in last weekend’s AIHL action, Broekmann opened up.

 

Craig Tonks: Firstly congratulations on your game against the Bears. How did it feel to get some game time under your belt?

Josh Broekmann: It was a really good feeling to be out there. Of course I was quite nervous about having my first start for the North Stars but I just wanted to use it as a chance to prove myself to everyone and I think, to myself too.

 

CT: When did you start playing hockey?

JB: I started playing when I was about 9.

 

CT: How did you become a goal tender?

JB: Starting that young we would take turns each week at goalie and I just enjoyed it. Gicu [Opera], who also plays with us was coaching me at that time, saw that and asked if I would like to continue being a goalie, that and I didn’t do too well as a player, which still seems funny..

 

CT: What inspired or drew you to a role between the red pipes?

JB: It just sort of happened. I had no real reason to want to do it but once I started, I couldn’t think of doing anything else.

 

CT: What was your journey through the junior ranks?

JB: I started with the North Stars Peewee team and some local league hockey. I continually tried out for state but didn’t make it into the NSW team at that age so I played for the ACT in their Ginsberg team. I finally made the NSW team in Kurt DeFris (under 15′s) in 2008, my second year of trying and progressed from there. I continually played for Newcastle and NSW in Tange (under 18’s) until in 2010 when I made the Australian Youth Team and in 2011/2012 the Australian Junior team. It’s been continual work but it’s great being at a supportive club like Newcastle and having my parents around has helped me out a lot.

 

CT: How long have you been the back up keeper for the AIHL North Stars team?

JB: Well my first run with AIHL was in 2008 when Matt Ezzy was injured and I have been a part of the team since then.

 

CT: How do you prepare mentally for a game?

JB: There are plenty of different things for me personally I think. I like listening to my music and warming up outside before we even hit the ice. I think it just comes down to getting yourself in the zone. I just try to focus on nothing but hockey and try to visualize all the things that could happen on the ice.

 

CT: How does this change when you’re the starting goalie?

JB: It really doesn’t change. You still prepare the same but when you know you’re starting the game there’s a little more anxiety there.

 

CT: Often as a back up you can be thrust into the game at any moment. How do you switch on to such a situation?

JB: Being thrust into the game does sort of switch you on, for me anyway. My adrenaline starts pumping straight away but you aren’t fully zoned in until you face that first shot and hopefully make that first save.

 

CT: The North Stars have a strong junior program. How important is it for you to be involved with development of the junior Goal Tenders?

JB: I think being involved in junior development will make a stronger future for the club. You see some of the kids coming up and the opportunities they get. It just gives you a good feeling when you are able to help them out and become better.

 

CT: What’s your goal for this season?

JB: Just to continue improving my game. I was excited when I found out Olivier was coming to play for Newcastle. He is someone I respect immensely and I also know that he is someone who can help me become a better goalie as he has so much knowledge.

 

CT: Is there anyone who has been influential to your career?

JB: I think the person who has helped me the most is Al Shank. He’s a goalie coach who was living in Australia a few years ago. He was able to teach me, not just new skills but also to have more confidence in myself as a goalie. This is the one thing that continually working on but he was able to give me the start I needed.

 

CT: What advice can you give to young aspiring goal tenders out there?

JB: Probably keep training and never let anyone put you down. You never know where you will end up and no one really does. My dad told me last year how worried he was when I first started as a goalie because well I was no good at it but you can’t let that stop you. I’m sure he never expected me to play for Australia or play in the AIHL but I know he has never been prouder, than when I accomplished those things.

 

CT: What lies ahead for Josh Broekmann?

JB: Again I just want to keep working on my game with Olivier and improving myself. Hopefully if I keep working hard and when Oli is ready I’ll be able to do what he is doing now. My ultimate goal is to become the starting goalie for the North Stars and pass on what I learn to help someone else .

HSN would like to thank Josh for giving up time and we look forward to watching the exciting young net minder progress in the future.

By Craig Tonks

The Pipedream Part 1

Pipe dream or attainable goal?

Offering up an opinion on what could be, Craig Tonks discusses a potential pipe dream.

 

 

The year is 2017, five years from now and the Sydney Kings of the NBL have finished playing at their home, Allphones Arena on a Friday night in late April. Floorboards are being removed meticulously until the layer of ice becomes evident and the transformation begins in preparation for the the AIHL season opener between the Sydney Ice Dogs and Sydney Bears in less than 24 hours time.

A team of workers are setting up the ice rink for the scheduled game of ice hockey. The boards go up followed by the plexi-glass. The Australian Ice Hockey League is ready to go for another record season buoyed by the success of last season’s Fox Sports broadcast. All this on the back of the first Australian player to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup in the NHL.

It was a smart move by the AIHL and Basketball Australia to pool resources, share buildings similar to stadiums in other world markets. One game played over summer and the other over winter gave the stadiums a year round product. Sponsors were able to take up the sponsorship package that gave them year round sponsorship and penetration into new markets.

The innovating idea of setting up a sports channel on Fox Sports purely dedicated to traditionally U.S sports such as Ice Hockey, Basketball and Baseball was a huge risk that paid off.  The channel shows all NBA and NHL games plus the National Basketball League, Australian Baseball League and of course Australian Ice Hockey League games.

It certainly helped that when mining magnate Nathan Tinkler was invited to an AIHL game he wondered why he even bothered with Rugby League as he was overheard at the time saying, “Why didn’t I know about this game sooner?”

OK, back to reality.  We all know that this is nothing more than pure fantasy however, one can still wonder if it can be done and dream of ice hockey moving from a niche market sport to a professional and  semi-main stream sport in this country.

It’s existing fan base knows that it has all the action and more that Rugby League or Australian Rules Football showcases, yet much more skill and finesse that is sure to keep the new fans coming back.

The foundation laid by Tyler Lovering and his team are giving the sport every opportunity to grow and one day reach this level. There are many possibilities and a thousand different ideas. Anyone new to an ice hockey game rarely leaves disappointed. They never walk away and say it was boring. We all hope they love it and stay.

Where will you let your dreams take you…

By Craig Tonks

The Pipedream Part 2

Pipedream 2 :: Loaning our talents

In the second of the “Pipedream” series, Craig Tonks takes a look at a new scenario and another way to assist the further growth of the AIHL. These ideas are purely to make you stop and think, “What If”.

 

 

Many sporting clubs around the world have sister club agreements. This is most evident in the Football world however it is also evident amongst the world’s hockey rinks. The question could then be asked, can an AIHL club strike an agreement with a North American club? Could this sort of arrangement work in Ice Hockey?

The connections that the Melbourne Ice have made with the San Jose Sharks organisation have been well reported and they seem to be the AIHL club that leads the way in this area.

For this exercise however, I will bypass the NHL as they have agreements already in place with other lower tier professional teams. For this reason, I will look at the CHL which has 60 clubs across three high quality leagues.

The AIHL is positioned in a supremely unique environment. Given that the league runs primarily during the North American off season, it is foreseeable that a player who is injured and misses most of the North American season could possibly be placed with an AIHL team during the Australian season to build up fitness and gain valuable match practice.

To be beneficial, such an agreement has to compliment both sides. It is possible that an import currently playing in the AIHL could find his way to the CHL, thus creating a pathway to the higher level leagues.

This could then lead to talent identification for Australian players and promotion of the AIHL in areas of the world that may not have heard of the league.

The question is then, what benefit would it bring to the AIHL to have high level CHL players playing in Australia.

Firstly we would have to assume the IIHF and CHL would allow such a move and provide a loan agreement. The player would still be employed by their CHL club and they would pay the player as normal. Due to the Australian League being semi professional it would bear no more financial burden than they currently carry with their imports.

One would think that bringing in a high skill level would raise the profile of the AIHL and bring with it training systems and the latest methodology. Running development camps for the clubs would benefit the junior system and can be seen as a long term benefit and investment.

We would hope that such deals could materialise in the future.

It is another idea of pure fantasy but shouldn’t we dream big and aim high?

By Craig Tonks