Northstars on the backfoot as Brave take charge. Photo: David Tate
It is always a physical encounter when the Northstars and Brave meet, and this game proved to be no exception with both sides racking up 10 penalty minutes in the first period alone. With goals to the Brave’s Gerling, McPhail, Darge and Hughes and a commanding 4-0 lead.
The Northstars, looking for a spark in the second period, were lead out by backup goalie Charlie Smart who replaced Davis at the intermission. The Brave were quick to pick up where they left off after a breakaway shorthanded goal by Gerling.
The Northstars continued to grind, searching for a spark and it was Tomas Landa who had the answer leaving the Brave defence scrambling to recover. The Northstars started to tilt the ice back in their favor until Ainars Podzins dished to Joey Hughes on an odd man rush to put the home side up 6-1 late in the second period.
The Northstars chalked up another after Brave goalie Matt Hewitt recovered a puck behind his own net, but was undone by the fore check of Landa who dispossessed Hewitt and tucked the puck into the empty net to reduce the deficit to 6-2.
Gerling and Harcharik battle it out on the ice. Photo: David Tate
Heading into the third period, the Northstars had an incredible task on their hands to get back into the game they continued to fight right to the final buzzer, but goals to Matt Buskas and Mitch Henning looked to take the wind out of the Northstars sails. The Northstars however, showed no quit and continued to grind the game out. The Northstars were rewarded for their efforts in a controversial last minute goal to Joe Harcharik after Jordan Gavin received an injury to the face as play continued and the Northstars were able to capitalise.
Newcastle Northstars Head Coach Joey Theirault spoke to the start that the Brave had and the fight the Northstars had showed.
“Coming to Canberra is always a battle for us, it always has been. Canberra came out flying and before we could gather our thoughts we were down 4-0. Coming back and battling in the second the way we did and scoring 2 was a bit of fire inside us that we still had.”
Theirault continued and spoke to the caliber of players yet to return for the Northstars, “We are still without Sam Lawson (suspension), Bert Malloy, Matt Lindsay and Richie Tesarik (National Team duties). All 4 of those guys are game changers for us.”
“I think the tilting point was Gerling’s goal in the second (CBR 5th goal), it was a shorthanded goal that he tucked in between Charlie's skate and the post. The wind in our sail was gone, but I'll give credit to our guys for battling it out the whole game and not giving up.”
CBR Brave Head Coach Rob Starke was pleased with the Brave’s early success in the game and the team effort of the Brave. “I think our key was that strong start and we just never looked back. We're a very fast team and speed is contagious. So when you have a couple guys going at that rate, everyone wants to meet that rate as well. Our neutral zone play was top notch and we just transitioned that into goals” Starke continued and focused on the next game against the Sydney Bears, saying “It [the score] certainly sends a message. It's a big score, but we can't discount the Northstars as they're very good hockey team and we just have to push the reset button and do it again tomorrow”