The Perth Thunder headed east to take on the Newcastle North Stars, determined to exercise some of the demons the last trip brought them.
The first period saw some great exchanges from both sides with a points decision to the Thunder who out shot the North Stars 11 to 4. The North Stars who were back after a weeks break, appeared to have trouble settling into the match, yet kept driving into the Perth zone, looking for a way through.
With 7.21 remaining in the first period, Dominic Osman continued his good form in season 2013 by giving the North Stars a 1-0 lead.
The Thunder kept fighting and continued to drive into the Newcastle zone which paid off with 4.40 to go in the first when new Perth Import, Dan Mohle provided the assist for Michael Forney to level the scores.
The crowd instantly knew this was a different Perth Thunder, with coach Stan Scott keeping his chargers settled by providing plenty of encouragement, which paid off on a Perth power play after John Kennedy took in some pine time. Kenny Rolph gave the Thunder a 2-1 lead going into the break.
The second period saw the tempo rise to another level. The North Stars were creating the opportunities however the Thunder defence had them rattled, closing them down on the last shot.
With 9.49 remaining in the second period the Thunder sent the Newcastle crowd into silence when David Kudla provided the assist for Perth Captain, Sam Wilson to push the Perth lead out to 3-1.
This goal seemed to kick start the North Stars into action mode. This paid off when Pier-Olivier Cotnoir clawed back a goal with 7.30 remaining in the second period and brought the score back to 3-2.
Cotnoir continued his goal scoring run and hit again with 4.56 left in the second period, when Jeff Martens provided an assist to bring the scores back to 3-3.
The Thunder were showing the depth required to play September hockey and it must have been pleasing for Coach Scott to see Jonathon Bremner, Jordy Kyros and David Ruck contributing on equal par to the Perth imports.
With 3.06 remaining in the second period, David Ruck combined with Jonathon Bremner to send the Thunder to the last break with a very handy 4-3 lead over the North Stars.
Newcastle Coach, Gary Dore appeared relaxed or had on his game face. Knowing his team has the ability to come back in the 20 minute third period definitely provides some comfort.
The third period saw the arrival of bigger and harder body checking with both sides trying everything possible to gain the upper hand.
With 9.01 remaining in the match, Dominic Osman fired a rocket from the blue line to beat the glove of Daniel Clarke to level the game.
The Thunder then showed the determination they will need for their first tilt at finals hockey when Kevin Darcy gave the Thunder a 5-4 lead with 4.04 remaining in the match.
The clock was ticking down and the North Stars were looking down the barrel of a consecutive second home loss when Adam Geric, with only 29 seconds left in the match hit home the equaliser that sent the match to a good old fashion western shoot out, the third in a row for the North Stars.
The first goals of the shoot out went to the second shooters of each team with Dominic Osman and Dan Mohle grabbing goals.
Another six shooters per side went scoreless until Jayson Chalker raised the roof of the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium with the winning goal. A humble Chalker summed it up nicely, “It was great to get my second goal and anything I can do to help the team win is a plus in my books”
Coach Gary Dore summed up his feelings when he described the game as nerve racking. “No fan would have gone home disappointed, it was a pure spectacle. We weren’t as sharp as we should be and we knew Perth wanted this one badly. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, just better”.