Fresh signings help Stars shine

THE acquisition of forwards David Upton and Tuomas Takkula brought immediate results for the Newcastle North Stars who recorded two dominant wins in the Australian Ice Hockey League over the weekend.

On Saturday the North Stars beat the Sydney Bears 8-5 at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium and knocked off the Canberra Knights 6-1 last night at the Warners Bay rink.

Upton and Takkula both made their debuts against the Bears, and captain Ray Sheffield said they instantly made the side more dangerous.

‘‘They’re both great players and we’ve got another guy [Canadian import Kevin Day] coming tomorrow and they change the whole look of our team, so we’re able to move guys around into three strong lines,’’ Sheffield said last night.

Defence has been the North Stars’ biggest concern after they relinquished leads in both losses last weekend to Gold Coast and the Sydney Ice Dogs.

On Saturday they led 6-1 against the Bears in the second period, but the visitors fought back in the final period. But the North Stars tightened their defence last night against the Knights.

After the opener to Canberra import Nick Polaski in the seventh minute, North Stars goaltender Olivier Martin delivered a superb performance.

‘‘We’d been working on it for two weeks and really stressing the defensive zone coverage,’’ Sheffield said. ‘‘Our work has paid off.’’

Sheffield scored the first goal for the North Stars when he knocked in a rebound from a Rob Starke slap shot.

Import Brian Bales and Central Coast-bred Beau Taylor scored for a 3-1 lead to the North Stars at the end of the first period.

It was Taylor’s ninth goal in five games and followed his brace on Saturday.

Takkula showed his class by faking Knights goalie Mike Brown to take a 4-1 lead at the end of the second.

When Sheffield was off with a tweaked knee, coach Garry Doré gave his second and third lines more time on the ice in the third period and they delivered with goals to Nick Orford-Quirk and Matt Wetini.

Bales and former import Peter Cartwright dominated the North Stars attack for the past two years, but Sheffield said it was pleasing to see new names on the score sheet.

‘‘It’s good to see that we can rely on other lines to score, other than the top line,’’ he said.

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