Australian Ice Hockey League: Newcastle Northstars downed by Sydney Bears in rollercoaster affair

BATTLE: The Newcastle Northstars and Sydney Bears went toe-to-toe at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday, with the visitors clinching a 4-3 victory. Picture: PowerPlay Photographics
BATTLE: The Newcastle Northstars and Sydney Bears went toe-to-toe at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday, with the visitors clinching a 4-3 victory. Picture: PowerPlay Photographics

The game may have kept spectators on the edge of their seats, but a 4-3 loss to the Sydney Bears at Warners Bay on Sunday has the Newcastle Northstars living on the edge of the top four.

The latest rollercoaster ride, which included Newcastle leading, equalising and reducing the margin to one across the three periods, leaves the Northstars in a share of fourth spot on the Australian Ice Hockey League ladder with four games remaining in the regular season.

Sammy Banga opened the host’s account for a 1-0 advantage at the first break before making it a double when levelling proceedings towards the end of the second term.

CELEBRATE: Sammy Banga (left) after scoring the Newcastle Northstars' first goal on Sunday. Picture: PowerPlay Photographics

CELEBRATE: Sammy Banga (left) after scoring the Newcastle Northstars' first goal on Sunday. Picture: PowerPlay Photographics

The Bears, in outright second on the overall standings, netted three times in the middle period with two goals to Michael Schlamp. This put the visitors up 3-2 at the last interval.

Ryan Lough bagged his brace for Sydney early in the third term for a two-goal buffer before Northstars captain Bert Malloy replied almost immediately.

But that’s how the scoreboard stayed in what was Newcastle goalkeeper Dayne Davis’ 100th league match. 

However, the Northstars received a reprieve of sorts on Sunday with the Melbourne Ice upsetting the Sydney Ice Dogs 6-2.

Newcastle and the Ice Dogs both have 35 competition points.

On the run home the Northstars have a re-match with the Bears in Sydney on Friday night before backing up against last-placed Adelaide Adrenaline less than 24 hours later at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium.

Newcastle round out their campaign by traveling to Perth and meeting the third-placed Thunder in a double header.

The Ice Dogs tackle leaders Canberra twice, the Bears and Ice.