The Northstars make the trip to Sydney this weekend in an AIHL preliminary-final rematch. It will be the first time the two teams have met since the overtime thriller last year in Melbourne, where Tomas Landa’s hat trick wasn’t enough, and the Northstars won 4-3 in overtime.
Newcastle and Sydney will be keen to welcome back members of Australia’s senior men’s team returning from Spain. Timothy Newmark and Anthony Kimlin are available this weekend, while Tomas Landa is scheduled to return against the Ice Dogs on May 5.
“That’ll be a big loss for us,” Bears' Assistant Captain Michael Schlamp said of Landa’s absence. “He was huge in that [preliminary-final] game. It was a real back-and-forth contest.”
The Northstars will be without veteran Hamish Powell, who celebrated his 200th AIHL appearance against the Melbourne Ice last weekend with a fight and an automatic one-game suspension.
The cross-conference rivals have had contrasting starts to the season; Newcastle made the Melbourne trip with a depleted lineup, got blown out by the Mustangs 0-11, and wilted late against the Ice 4-8.
Sydney, meanwhile, has a perfect three wins from three contests against the Ice Dogs (6-3), Adrenaline (6-3), and Brave (8-2).
The Bears’ top line of Thomas Steven, Kenshin Hayashi, and Ace Cowans have fuelled the offence; Steven is tied for sixth in league scoring, with nine points (5G, 4A) in three games.
Bears’ Captain Ryan Annesley recorded his 100th AIHL point last weekend and is tied for 12th in league scoring (7 points) along with teammates Michael Schlamp and Ace Cowans. Tyerell Clare has also chipped in from the blue line with five points in three games.
The Bears will welcome back import Alexandre Gauthier, who recorded an impressive 34 points in 19 games in last year’s regular season, and another five points in two playoff appearances. Gauthier offers Head Coach Ron Kuprowsky enviable versatility, with the ability to play both forward and defence.
According to Coach Kuprowsky, success will start from the back. “Defence is our main focus,” Kuprowsky commented, “as Newcastle has some very good forwards that we will need to keep in check.”
Some of those forwards include returning imports Daniel Berno and Francis Drolet and new import Josh Adkins, all of whom will be available for Newcastle against the Bears.
Bears’ import Marc McNulty arrived in the country earlier this week, and registration issues may impact his availability. However, expect the 200cm shutdown defenceman to immediately impact the team with his physical style of play when he does debut.
Make sure you, our seventh player, get down to the rink and support the team. You can either purchase tickets online or at the rink. Membership packages are also available, and you can choose a package that suits you. Doors open at 4:30 pm, and puck drop is at 5:00 pm.
Comments will be approved before showing up.