Category Archives: Game Reviews

Wilson Cup – The Lowdown

Wilson Cup – Newcastle Northstars V Sydney Bears


The Sydney Bears defeated the Newcastle Northstars 5-3, in its Wilson Cup match at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Saturday 9th April.



Preseason hockey can be a bit hit and miss due to the unavailability of players due to Worlds and the yet to arrive Imports but the game was played at a good pace and in good spirit.


What’s exciting is the depth of East Coast Super League and AIHJL players on the ice.


Let’s look at what impressed me in this game.



The Newcastle Northstars line up contained a good number of it’s AIHL players but the stand outs were Hamish Powell, Pat Nadin and Jaysen Chalker.


Powell is skating with good speed and has fine tuned his body checking, driving opponents into the boards with vigor with the crowd holding it’s breath when they see him lining up his prey.



For the Sydney Bears it was hard to go past Tyrell Clare, Geoff Irwin and William Dores.


Clare will be one to watch in the AIHL in 2016, as he has returned form his season playing for the Vancouver Rangers, a stronger and more physical player.


There was a lot to like about the game and for me it was the sheer amount of young talent that made you stand up and take notice.


North Stars V Ice Dogs

The Sydney Ice Dogs travelled to the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday 22nd of June for their home game against the Newcastle North Stars, a rescheduled match played in Newcastle due to availability of ice in Liverpool, the home of the Dogs.


The match would see the North Stars minus Adam Geric and Brian Bales yet saw the return of Hayden Sheard who has improved with each minute on the ice.


After a 5-0 loss for the North Stars against Perth Thunder the previous night, Newcastle got off to a shaky start when John Kennedy Jr was given a 10 minute misconduct for a check behind.


The North Stars fought back and at 13.59, Cody Danberg combined with Chris Wilson for the first goal of the night and a 1-0 North Stars lead.


Penalties to Paddy Ward and Shannon McGreggor at 4.49 and 4.17 respectively gave the North Stars a good chance to press the point however the Ice Dogs penalty kill got the job done.


With 1.26 remaining in the match, Dave Ferrari combined with Newcastle Captain, Ray Sheffield another goal to add to his career tally and a 2-0 lead going to the first intermission.


The second period became an arm wrestle, good clean body checks and as Andrew Petrie kept telling his Ice Dogs, “We’re still in this boys”.


Going into the third period the match was anyone’s for the taking with fatigue the major factor with both teams playing their second game in two days.


The North Stars grabbed the first goal in the first period at 15.07, when Chris Wilson linked with Cody Danberg for a 3-0 lead.


The Ice Dogs kept hitting the Newcastle blue line looking for a way to the net and only scrambling defence kept them out.


At 8.36 in the third the Ice Dogs clawed one back when the hard working David Dunwoodie provided the assist for a Tyler Kubara goal and a 3-1 score.


With the clock running out the North Stars struck again with a Matt Wetini goal at 1.07 to close out the match at 4-1.


Newcastle coach Gary Dore was upbeat about the match, “Everyone bought into the plan and played the systems. We were missing key personnel and everybody had to put in”.


CBR Brave defeat North Stars

The CBR Brave or Canberra Brave, as most people refer to them, are on a mission in Season 2014 and not one from god. They are on a mission to come to your town and take Goodall Cup points.

The North Stars, fresh off a win against 2013 premiers, the Sydney Ice Dogs would hit the ice at the Hunter Ice Stadium with confidence.

When the puck dropped the North Stars hit he ground running but everyone could see that the Brave meant business.

The North Stars opened the scoring with 11.09 remaining in the first when John Kennedy Jr continued his goal scoring spree when he slotted away a Matt Wetini pass for a 1-0 lead.

The second period saw a settled Brave take the game to the North Stars with physical checks and smart play.

One of the highlights of the Brave roster is the positional play brought in by Mathieu Ouellette, who proved a handful for the North Stars defence.

With 12.40 remaining in the second period, Stephen Blunden got a pass to a perfectly positioned Ouellette who levelled the scores.

A huge blow was to come for the North Stars when Cody Danberg was given a Game Misconduct for spearing.

This appeared to leave a gap in the North Stars and allowed the Brave defence to slow down the Newcastle attack.

It was unfortunate that no one told the North Stars they would struggle as Jayson Chalker combined with Matt Taylor at 4.56 to take the score back to 2-1 in Newcastle’s favour.

It was another Matt in Matt Harvey who was proving problematic for the North Stars and is quickly becoming a big asset for Canberra.

With 3.36 remaining in the second, Ouellette again levelled the scores when he combined with the man who saved ice hockey in Canberra, Mark Rummakainen.

The Brave struck again soon after with a mere 0.34 left on the clock when Stephen Blunden scored the goal which would put Canberra ahead for the first time.

The third period saw the Brave hit the ice with confidence.

With 14.53 remaining in the match Anton Kokkonen provided the assist for a Matt Harvey winning goal and a 4-2 scoreline.

The North Stars walk away knowing that the systems in place were effective till the loss of Danberg.

The Brave look forward to many more wins in season 2014 and after a win in Newcastle, show that the mission is possible.

Sydney Ice Dogs V Newcastle North Stars

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Sydney Ice Dogs V Newcastle North Stars

The meeting between the 2013 Australian Ice Hockey Leagues grand finalists is always a much anticipated affair but season 2014 has thrown up some irregularities.


The Sydney Ice Dogs and Newcastle North Stars were both sitting in the bottom half of the Goodall Cup leaderboard, something fans just aren’t used the seeing.

It would always be a matter of time before the North Stars and the Ice Dogs hit their straps and starting putting wins on the board and this match up would provide the opportunity for one team to start the climb.

The match opened with the Ice Dogs taking the upper hand against Newcastle and dominated the neutral zone.

The Ice Dogs opened the scoring at 14.25, when Robert Malloy and Billy Cliff provided an assist to Paul Barranzelli and a sigh of relief for the solid crowd in attendance.

Matt Taylor, one of the standout players for the North Stars this season opened the account for Newcastle at 4.11 when he equalled the score from an Adam Geric assist.

The Ice Dogs fought back and with 2.10 remaining in the first period when Robert Malloy provided his second assist for the night for a John Clewlow goal and a 2-1 lead.

The second period became an arm wrestle with both teams knowing these three points meant more than just points alone, they meant confidence and belief they were on the right track.

With 6.37 remaining in the second, the Ice Dogs pushed ahead when Malloy got the puck past Harrison May for a 3-1 lead.

A battle of interest was the contest between David Dunwoodie and John Kennedy Jr, two players that become fierce competitors when they step onto the ice.

With only 0.29 left in the second period the North Stars grabbed a late goal when John Kennedy Jr combined with Adam Geric in an attempt to stay in the game.

The third period could have been akin to a grand final match with everything on the line.

The North Stars stepped onto the ice with a positive mindset which paid off almost immediately when at 18.14 in the third, Chris Wilson John Kennedy combined.

The Ice Dogs are a team that never give up and we are used to seeing them stage fantastic third period fight backs.

The North Stars could sense a win was possible and the Imports looked like they were starting to gel.

At 11.36 Cody Danberg, gave coach Gary Dore a chance to exhale when Chris Wilson provided yet another assist to bring the score to 4-2.

With only 1.06 left in the match Chris Wilson went from Mr Assist to goal scorer to close out the match 5-2.

The game showed both teams are on track to register plenty of wins going forward and showed fans it won’t be long before that leader board tips around the right way again.



Newcastle North Stars V Sydney Bears 13/04

The opening weekend of the 2014 Australian Ice Hockey Season is a special weekend for fans of the ice hockey.


Artwork:: Greg Rickford

Artwork:: Greg Rickford

The Newcastle North Stars returned home to Hunter Ice Skating Stadium after a successful trip to the nations capital the previous night.

The Sydney Bears were ready for their first game of the AIHL season, however unlike Newcastle had a team untested, with the arrival of their Import players during the week.

The first period saw the Bears break out to a 2-0 lead after goals to Adrian Esposito and Lee Turner.

The Bears made the most of the mistakes made by the North Stars, even with a strong period from Matt Taylor and Matt Lindsay.

It is apparent that the 2014 edition of the Bears will be built on solid defence, with Goal Tender, Daniel Palmvist. One player who will feature heavily for the Bears and add starch to the back line, will surely be Spencer Austin, who matures as a player every season.

The second period was the period ,where Newcastle stepped up and lift the aggression, which was closely matched by the Bears, however it was Spencer Austin who would open up the gap to 3-0.

The third period saw Sydney heading home with a wet sail and another goal to Sean Hamilton Steen helped secure the first of many wins of the season for the Bears.

Both teams can walk away with many more positives than negatives.

The North Stars will be looking forward to having Hayden Sheard back on the ice after suspension, the return of Adam Geric and the arrival of Import, Chris Wilson.

The Bears will welcome the return Michael Schlamp  and Cameron Todd but will surely be enjoying the extra dimension added by former Ice Dog, Alec Stephenson.


Newcastle North Stars V Melbourne Mustangs

Newcastle North Stars V Melbourne Mustangs

It’ s always exciting when the Mustangs come to town and even more so when their season is on the line and a win could make a big difference.

Photo:: Debra Jean Photography

Photo:: Debra Jean Photography

The first period opened with a hectic section of play with an early breakaway almost resulting in a Newcastle goal however moments later the Mustangs lost Adrian Nash for the match, when a collision occurred between Nash and Jeff Martens shoulder, resulting in a cut above the eye and a concussion for Nash. Video footage showed both players with their heads down at the time and was merely a hockey collision.

In a pleasing period of hockey for Coach Gary Dore and a frustrating one for Brad Vigon, the Mustangs had three power plays during the period yet could only manage five shots on goal due to the pressure applied by the Newcastle penalty kill.

In a period that finished scoreless the Mustangs had the opportunities but were let down by loose passes, whether it be the absence of Nash in the line up or the hustle of the North Stars in their own blue zone.

The second period began with both teams skating the puck out of their own defensive zones and up through the middle of the ice and finally making the shots on goal.

The Mustangs made the best of the early opportunities when Brendan McDowell, who had been patrolling the North Stars goal mouth for much of the first period combined with Patrick O’Kane to give the Mustangs a 1-0 lead, when O’Kane fired a shot past Olivier Martin from just inside the blue line.

Newcastle hit back a mere eight seconds later when Jeff Martens slipped a puck to Pier-Olivier Cotnoir to level the score at 1-1.

The North Stars seemed to have found their groove and a goal at 7.53 to Jeff Martens was quickly followed up by a Beau Taylor goal at 5.54 to send the North Stars to the break with a 3-1 lead.

The sixteen shots on goal for the Mustangs would have been one pleasing aspect for Coach Vigon and his chargers who were creating the opportunities but just couldn’t find the net.

The third period started with a repeat of the second when Pier-Olivier Cotnoir combined with Beau Taylor at 17.70 to make the score 4-1.

The lead gave Coach Dore the chance to give more ice time to his young gun line leading into the finals. The likes of Matt Wettini, Tim Stanger, Jaysen Chalker and Nick Quirk combined with the veterans, Ray Sheffield and Rob Duchemin to rest the legs of the North Stars imports.

With 7.43 remaining in the game Nick Quirk combined with Tim Stanger to take the score to 5-1 and Quirk was in the action again at 3.34 for his second goal to finish the game with a 6-1 North Stars victory.

Although the loss meant the Mustangs would miss the 2013 AIHL Finals, Coach Vigon will be out the show the North Stars they have plenty of bite left when they meet next round, when they host the boys from Newy at the Icehouse on Sunday 1st September.

Newcastle North Stars V Melbourne Ice

There’s always a sense of excitement when the Melbourne Ice come to town because you know you are up against one the great teams of the AIHL and if you’re not on your game, you’ll be punished.

Photo: Debra Jean Photography

Photo: Debra Jean Photography

It became evident in the first period that both teams were desperate to take points in the crowded AIHL Top 4 when at 12.52 Rob Starke and Lliam Webster were sent to sample the pine after a scuffle in front of the Newcastle goal.

The blue line became a fortress for both teams and it would take a Jason Baclig backhander, deep into the Newcastle zone at 9.28 to give the Ice an early 1-0 lead.

With 2.20 remaining in the first period, Todd Graham was sent to the box for holding which gave the North Stars their first big opportunity. It would be a mere 5 seconds later that Jeff Martens provided the assist for Pier-Olivier Cotnoir to equal the scores at 1-1.

The second period began with Melbourne the more dominant team with the Ice being able to shut down the North Stars attack denying them the last shot on some enterprising plays. Weathering the storm paid off for the Ice when at 13.04 Tommy Powell put the puck past Olivier Martin to give the Ice a 2-1 lead.

At this point something clicked in the North Stars attack. The loose passes began to stick and goal tender Olivier Martin developed a steely look in his eyes. At 9.13 a Beau Taylor pass found an awaiting Dominic Osman who buried it in the back of the net to make it 2-2.

At 7.40 remaining in the second period, Pier Olivier Cotnoir provided an assist for AIHL Leading Point Scorer, Jeff Martens to open his account for the night which seemed to unsettle the Ice.

Two power plays at 3.06 and then 2.08 against the Ice gave the Newcastle power play unit the opportunity to push ahead, yet the experience of Melbourne helped them weather the storm, although at the conclusion of the power play the North Stars continued the attack with Pier-Olivier Cotnoir grabbing his second goal and a 4-2 lead.

The third period saw the game still sitting on a platter for which ever team could control the neutral zone and their discipline. It would be the North Stars who took the first opportunity to take a bite from the platter when at 16.48 Jeff Martens combined with Cotnoir to push Newcastle ahead 5-2.

A quality team like the Melbourne Ice will always hit back when you least expect it and they did just that at 14.28, when Jason Baclig, who was everywhere for the Ice, provided the assist for Marcus Wong to get the score back to 5-3.

The North Stars always look a dangerous team when David Upton is on the ice and his combination with Beau Taylor saw Upton claim a goal and a 6-3 score line.

At 8.27, a check from behind call against Matt Armstrong opened up the Ice for the North Stars and at 6.44 Jeff Martens capitalised from a David Upton assist to push the score out to 7-3.

If anyone ever thinks that the Melbourne Ice will roll over and capitulate when on the wrong end of the scoreline are very misinformed. A point proved when Dylan Moore, at 4.27 grabbed a handy goal from in front of the net to close the gap and a 7-4 score.

The North Stars attack could sense an immanent victory against the Ice, yet showed the character required for September as they continued to keep the pressure on Melbourne when many other teams would have set the cruise control.

With 2.39 remaining in the game Jeff Martens completed the scoring with a hat trick for the North Stars, bringing the score to 8-4.

The game lived up to expectations in intensity and the drama one would associate with a clash of this proportion however discipline for the Ice, is paramount to staying in games. Although a few losses in the back end of the season can rattle most teams, the Melbourne Ice aren’t most teams.

The North Stars showed that they have three great capable lines and perhaps it’s time for North Stars fans to start booking flights for Melbourne.