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Northstars clinch AIHL play-off spot after taming Ice Dogs

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The Newcastle Northstars’ red-hot form has secured the team a berth in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) play-off series.

The Kevin Noble-coach outfit continued its winning streak at the weekend, with an impressive 5-1 victory over the Sydney Ice Dogs at the Macquarie Ice Rink.

Riley Klugerman put the visitors on the front foot early, with a goal in the first period, to lead 1-0.

Newcastle Northstars’ Riley Klugerman scores a goal at the weekend. Photo: Peter Podlaha

Francis Drolet then doubled the score in the second term.

Newcastle surged ahead 3-0, via Daniel Berno, before Sydney responded through Marcus Hosen.

Another to Klugerman, as well as Josh Adkins, sealed the triumph.

The result catapulted the Northstars into the business end of the season, with upcoming matches to determine the final positions on the ladder.

Hunter Ice Skating Stadium will host Newcastle’s semi-final on Saturday 19 August, with the winner moving through to a showdown in Melbourne the following week.

But, for now, Noble was thrilled to return home with the three competition points.

“It’s a tough place to play and, when we go to Sydney, we’re always fortunate to leave with a win,” he said.

“With the penalties sitting at seven to one, we spent a lot of time short-handed.

“However, we played well and were the better team, so I really believe we deserved the win.

“We work on our penalty kill a lot, and we talk about it, and even our powerplay was good.

“It’s a special team that wins a hockey game like that – and that’s what we did.

“We were able to kill off penalties and capitalise on power plays, but we need to find a way to stay out of the penalty box.

“As much as that is proving to be difficult for us, we need to work on the reasons within our control.”

The Northstars next head to Adelaide, facing the Adrenaline on 15 and 16 July, without Zane Jones.

“Road trips are a great opportunity for the guys to hang out and spend time together,” Noble said.

“With commitments outside of hockey, they don’t get to do that often when we’re at home.

“So, on the road, they get closer and bond and enjoy each other’s company.

“We should match up very well with Adelaide on the weekend.

“But, when you’re on the road in another team’s arena, anything can happen… and you have to find a way to bring your best.

“For us, it’s not about the wins and losses now.

“We’re into the play-offs, so it’s about making sure we’re in the right place and doing what we need to do to win the grand final.

“I know we have the team that can be there in the end.

“We have a lot of work to do as we approach finals, but over the past month there’s been a ton of progress in our game both systematically and in terms of consistency.

“In response to Zane’s position, we are disappointed in the suspension decision. 

“The club decided to appeal it after we were informed by the AIHL late Friday afternoon that a request for review was issued by the management of the Melbourne Ice.

“We’ll look forward to him being back on the ice.”

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