Saturday, July 8, 2017 - Submitted by Bernard McNamara
The Newcastle Northstars secured all three competition points with an impressive 5-3 win over the Sydney Bears on Saturday night at the Macquarie Ice Rink. Northstars’ defenceman Felix Poulin was the standout for the visitors, recording a four-point night (1 goal, 3 assists), and extending his lead in the AIHL scoring race.
The Northstars' race for the final fourth spot on teh AIHL ladder remains on a knife-edge but the NSW side is up for the fight. Photo: Peter Podlaha.
Northstars knife-edge run at Finals
The Northstars still have a mathematical chance to make the AIHL Finals. To do so, they must secure maximum points from their remaining 10 games – and rely on other teams further dropping points – for any chance of securing that fourth and final playoff spot.
On a chilly night in Sydney the Northstars jumped out of the gates and onto the scoreboard first: Poulin finished off a nice passing play to give the visitors a 1-0 lead heading in the first intermission. The Bears generated chances but could not convert or sustain pressure up front.
The second period was all Northstars, with forward Joey Harcharik scoring his 10th goal of the season, and Steven Khun scoring a short handed goal to the extend the Northstars lead 3-0.
The Bears pushed hard get back into the game in the final period, but Northstars’ goalie Nick Mizen was up to the task. The young Novocastrian stopped 48 shots on night, including a number of impressive glove saves to preserve his team’s lead.
Kuhn scored his second goal of the night mid-way through the third period and silenced the home crowd with a 4-0 Northstars lead.
However the Bears clawed their way back into the contest with late goals to Richard Tesarik, Jackson Brewer and Nick Rivait to take the scoreboard to 4-3 and a chance at a shootout.
Goals byTesarik, Brewer and Rivait late in the third period get the Bears back into the game and gunning for a shootout. Photo: Peter Podlaha.
With the clock winding down and the Bears’ goalie on the bench for an extra attacker, Northstars’ forward Kale Kerbashian forced a turnover in the neutral zone and the buried the puck into the open net to seal the 5-3 win for the Northstars.
Kale Karbashian forced a turnover in the neutral zone in the final moments of the game, taking advantage of an empty Bears' net. Photo: Peter Podlaha.
Poulin out in front for AIHL scorers
The import defenceman continues to lead all AIHL scorers with 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in just 18 games.
Speaking of the result after the game, Poulin noted the impact of the win for the Northstars.
“It was big for us, we really needed the three points,” said Poulin.
“The Bears are a good team, they’ve got good players and their goalie has been playing really well, so we knew we had to bring it tonight.”
Poulin’s offensive game has flourished within the Northstars system and the speedy defenseman credits his coach and teammates for his on ice success.
“At the start of the season the coach told me to have fun out there and play my game” said Poulin.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my defensive partner Bert Malloy. He’s not only our captain, but he’s also my mentor. He’s always in a good position and when I take risks, I know he’s got my back.”
The Northstars will be aiming to carry their good form into next weekend, when they host the Adelaide Adrenaline at home for the must-win game.
The Bears will be boosted by the return of number 1 goalie Anthony Kimlin for an all-important third Sydney Battle against the Ice Dogs next Saturday night at the Macquarie Ice rink.