The Sydney Ice Dogs travelled up the F3 with one thing on their mind and that is three valuable Goodall Cup points.
The first period opened with both teams getting early scoring opportunities with the action swinging from end to end, which one would expect from a top of the table clash.
A power play to Newcastle at 13.19 after Simon Barg hit the penalty box saw Pier-Olivier Cotnoir slip the puck past Ice Dogs Goalie, Anthony Kimlin for the North Stars first goal right at the end of the one man advantage.
The opportunity for the Ice Dogs to equal the scores came at 4.30 remaining in the first period when John Kennedy Jr grabbed pine time for interference which resulted in a Matt Puntereri combining with Richard Tesaric for the Ice Dogs first goal.
The second period started as the first had ended with both teams protecting the men that patrol the red pipes in goal tenders Olivier Martin and Anthony Kimlin. The blue painted goal mouth became a hot sport for any attacker that dared venture in there, resulting in more than one push and shove.
With 13.15 remaining in the second period Anthony Wilson combined with Simon Barg to score the only goal of the period and 2-1 advantage.
The North Stars had opportunities but needed to be creative to sneak anything behind Kimlin, who has set the bar for goal tending standards in the AIHL for 2013.
A five on three power play at 7.17 was a chance that went begging as the Ice Dogs defence worked overtime to keep the flying North Stars at bay.
The third period was always going to be a race to the finish and at 12.02 Matt Puntereri gave the Ice Dogs the extra breathing room it needed to stay ahead of the North Stars when he put the Ice Dogs ahead 3-1.
The North Stars have shown they are a team who don’t panic when they are behind in the third period. This was evident at 10.44 when Adam Geric provided the assist for a Beau Taylor goal to close the gap to 3-2.
The Ice Dogs then managed to turn a negative into a positive when Simon Barg managed to increase his batch of short handed goals, which he did at 7.40 after combining with Robert Malloy for a 4-2 scoreline.
The return of David Upton to the North Stars line up after returning from injury added an extra dimension in the North Stars attack which was evident at 6.32 when he combined with Jeff Martens to close the gap again at 4-3.
The Ice Dogs knew that the last six minutes of play were crucial for bragging rights and three points. Todd Stephenson, who has been outstanding for the Ice Dogs and seems to be getting more confident with each game he plays, provided the puck for another of the pack, David Dunwoodie who scored a crucial goal at 5.01, which would close the game and a 5-3 victory for the Ice Dogs.
Two great teams kept alive a great rivalry that will see them well along the road to September. The Ice Dogs have shown they have maturity and skill, balanced with a nice mix of determination.
The North Stars head towards September with a bunch of tough games which should suit Newcastle Coach, Gary Dore. As the teams hit the finish line, it’s best to be battling the top teams to earn your spot. Isn’t that what September all about?