The Newcastle Northstars will welcome the “old with the new” when they prepare to face-off with long-time rivals CBR Brave in the opening round of the 2021 McCormack Cup this weekend.
Experienced campaigner David Ferrari heads the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium-based team into battle on Sunday 9 May surrounded by a number of rookies including Ethan Hawes, Connor Schultz, Mackenzie Gallagher, Alistair Rye, Tom Munroe and Riley Tonks.
And, general manager Garry Doré said everyone was looking forward to hitting the rink again in 2021.
“Although it’s a modified competition, due to COVID-19 impacting the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL), we’re taking part in a ‘bubble’ tournament alongside the CBR Brave (from Canberra) and Sydney Ice Dogs, who have relocated to Erina,” he told the Newcastle Weekly.
“We’ll also play numerous exhibition games against the Sydney Bears, providing a season from May to August for the Newcastle fans.
“However, it’s fitting the McCormack Cup is up for grabs.
“Mick [McCormack] was the past CEO of the APA Group, an avid follower of ice hockey and a sponsor of the AIHL for six-to-seven years.
“We’re dedicating the trophy to him – and he’s pretty pleased about it.”
With the limitations on international and inter-state movements, owing to the pandemic, the McCormack Cup presents a terrific opportunity for the Northstars to elevate their fledgling talent, especially with several veterans hoping to reduce their playing commitments.
“It will be great for the [local] guys,” Doré said.
“Following the absence of import players, it’ll give our young fellas a chance to step up.
“And, it also offers new opportunities for guys like Ethan (Hawes).
“He played his junior ice hockey here.
“So, he’s very anxious to get a season in to prepare for the North America fixtures in September/October.
“Ethan will certainly use this Cup as a stepping-stone to higher honours.
“We’re excited to have him here, too; he’s a wonderful find.”
In the meantime, the Northstars have the CBR Brave in their immediate sights.
“It’s fantastic; we’re all keen for this weekend,” Doré said.
“We had a pre-season outing with the Bears recently; it was a good skate-out and we ironed out some bugs.
“But, there were a few things for the coach to work on as well.
“CBR Brave will meet the Ice Dogs at Erina on Saturday, then back up on Sunday night against us.
“They’ve got a full team – a big line-up.
“Again, like us, they are targeting a lot of their young local players to make a mark in the competition.
“I think it’s going to be pretty exciting.
“We’ve had a great response from all of our existing sponsors, members and season ticket-holders.
“No-one has questioned the fact there isn’t any imported players this year.
“So, as far as we’re concerned, it’s game on.”
The showdown, at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium in Warners Bay, starts from 4pm.