After a gutsy win in Canberra the night before. The Sydney Bears were set to take on the Newcastle North Stars although the stars aligned for Newcastle with key players, Michael Schlamp and Vlad Rubes watching from rink side.
The first period had only just began and was a mere 32 seconds old when Pier-Olivier Cotnoir put a puck past Bears Goal Tender, Ryan Lowe.
The Bears tightened up their defence and fought for every loose puck, and the absence of Schlamp and Rubes meant increased workload and ice time for the likes of Cameron Todd, Branden Stobbs and Saxon Air.
With 1.27 remaining in the first period Pier-Olivier Cotnoir grabbed his second goal and was quickly followed up by a goal from Tim Stanger which had Lowe scrambling on his line and a 3-0 scoreline.
The second period saw both teams working hard on defence with solid checking along the boards. In what would be pleasing to Bears Coaches, Austin and Shumak is the tenacity of defenders Steve Adams and Slavo Boris, who kept the period scoreless.
The third period would always be the one that tested the stamina of the short staffed Bears and and with 18.58 remaining, Jeff Martens scored to give Newcastle a 4-0 lead however the Bears hit back at 18.26 when Tomas Landa clawed back a goal to make it 4-1.
The Bears are a side that never give up and it was Kane Spence and Tomas Landa, who were always asking questions of the Newcastle defence. This battle on the Newcastle blue line with John Kennedy Jr was a highlight of the match.
The Newcastle attack seemed to step up a gear when at 10.08 Pier-Olivier Cotnoir grabbed a hat trick for the evening.
The North Stars had the bonus of being able to inject their “Young Guns” line which consisted of Jaysen Chalker, Stu Cole-Clark and Matt Lindsay. This increased ice time is surely a bonus at the pointy end of the season specially with the faced pace of the Finals games.
A late rush by the North Stars saw Jeff Martens climbed to the top of the Scoring Leaders board by adding two goals at 2.58 and 0.33 and the second Newcastle hat trick for a 7-1 scoreline.
The win was a win that Newcastle needed after a loss to the Ice Dogs yet the Bears walk away with the nucleus of a side that can be built around the youth that are taking it to teams above them on the ladder.