Newcastle’s two-year hold on the Goodall Cup is over after a 6-1 thrashing by Melbourne Mustangs at home on Sunday ended the Northstars’ finals hopes.
The Australian Ice Hockey League champions have won just 10 of 25 games so far, three of them in overtime, during a disrupted season.
“It was a really disappointing result,” coach Andrew Petrie said. “We’ve limped, dragged and at times felt like a walking zombie of a hockey club at times this season.
“This is going to sound cliché, but I am prouder of these guys than the two teams that have won because – I don’t want to make comparisons – but they’ve never stopped trying.”
The fourth-placed Mustangs are now 10 points in front of Newcastle, who have three home games to finish the season.