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Vocal home crowd spurs on table-topping Northstars

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The Newcastle Northstars overcame a sluggish start to not only beat the Sydney Bears 7-4 but maintain its position on top of the Australian Ice Hockey League on Saturday night.

In front of a sold-out crowd at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, the hosts rallied in a penalty-riddled affair for both teams.

Alexandre Gauthier put the visitors on the board first and they maintained that 1-0 advantage until the end of the opening period.

But, the Northstars dug deep and responded with four unanswered goals – to Robert Malloy, Dash Quartarolo, Daniel Berno and Francis Drolet – to grab the ascendancy 4-1.

Further scores to Berno and Drolet in the final term extended the margin to 6-1.

The Bears rallied, with three quick goals of their own to Tommy Moncrieff, Scott Clemie and Michael Poirier to trail 6-4.

However, Newcastle failed to wilt under the pressure.

Spurred on by their vocal fans, Malloy found the back of the Sydney net to clinch the fixture 7-4.

The hard-fought victory placed a smile upon the face of Northstars head associate coach Kevin Noble.

“Any time you can clinch a spot in the final four, that’s one of our goals accomplished,” he said.

“Any team that can put themselves in that position, that’s what you play all year for.

“Our game [tonight], I thought we were good.

“We overcame adversity, we battled through penalties that took us out of rhythm, so I thought as a whole I really liked our performance.

“A lot of guys stepped up, as well as guys who don’t get as many minutes, and I feel they all really battled and competed.

“Was it a perfect 60 minutes, no?

“Is there ever really such a thing? Probably not, but I thought it was a great effort.

“All year we have been a team of a lot of guys that add value, that isn’t always reflected on the scoresheet.

“The character that the veterans have instilled in our organisation allows us to be in the position that we are in.

“They really buy into that culture of winning and that accountability to one another.” 

The Northstars now head to Canberra on 23 and 24 July to tackle the Brave.

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