Newcastle North Stars
Newcastle North Stars Logo.png
City: Warners Bay, New South Wales
League: AIHL
Founded: 1981 (1981)
Home Arena: Hunter Ice Skating Stadium
Colors: Blue, red and white
Head Coach: Don Champagne
General Manager: Garry Doré
Franchise history
1977-1981: Newcastle Red Wings
1981-present: Newcastle North Stars

The Newcastle North Stars are a semi-professional ice hockey team in the Australian Ice Hockey League. The team plays its home games at the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium (nicknamed 'HISS') in Warners Bay, a suburb of Lake Macquarie located about 15 kilometres South-West of Newcastle, New South Wales.

The North Stars are four times winners of the AIHL and with it, the historic Goodall Cup. The Championship seasons were in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008.

History[edit | edit source]

1977-2001 (Pre-AIHL)[edit | edit source]

Ice hockey started in the city of Newcastle in the 1970s, at the Wharf Road rink under Newcastle West's 'The Store' complex. Originally the Newcastle Red Wings, the Red Wings were part of national leagues of the time. Due to instability there were several variations of these leagues. The Red Wings became the North Stars in 1981 and were leading the national 'Super League' at the time when the Newcastle ice rink went into liquidation.

Some players then retired, while others went on to play for teams in Sydney or join inline hockey teams that started in the 1990s in Newcastle. A Newcastle North Stars in-line hockey team was formed including former members of the defunct Wharf Road team.

In 2000 the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium (a.k.a. HISS) opened at 230 Macquarie Road, Warners Bay. The Lake Macquarie suburb, only 15 km from the city, proved an ideal location for the new rink. The rink opened with former North Stars player/coach Garry Doré as General Manager.

A local committee was established and the Newcastle Northstars Ice Hockey Club was registered in 2001. The team mostly consisted of Canadian expatriates along with four talented local-born players contested the New South Wales Senior B championship. The Senior B North Stars went on to win the state Senior B Championship for 2001.

Later in 2001 the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium hosted the Goodall Cup tournament. The Goodall Cup is Australia's senior men's national tournament, contested since 1909. Utilising the experience from running the tournament and gaining assistance from existing AIHL teams, rink General Manager Garry Doré began building a team ready for the Australian Ice Hockey League.

Canadian expatriate Don Champagne was recruited to be coach, and local hockey enthusiast Peter Lambert was recruited as Team Manager.

2002-2006[edit | edit source]

The North Stars entered the AIHL in the 2002 expansion, when the league swelled from three teams to six. 2002 was a year of harsh lessons for the North Stars who upset the eventual champions the Sydney Bears twice, but suffered several harsh defeats. Top scorer for the North Stars in 2002 was imported Canadian Brett Hillier (Estevan Bruins).

In 2003 the North Stars recruited the services of highly-qualified Coaching Director Robert Barnes, a former European All-Star and coach of several national and professional teams throughout Europe. Barnes had been forced to retire as a coach due to a serious on-ice injury, but was able to provide support to the team by coaching the local coaching staff in a Coaching Director role.

Rob Barnes in turn helped recruit several young stars. Canadian import Ray Sheffield, sponsored by HISS as a rink manager, was promoted to team captain, a title that he retains to this day. Although the North Stars had a somewhat streaky season, they finished in 2nd place and defeated the Sydney Bears 7-4 in the semi-final. Minor Premiers the Adelaide Avalanche were eliminated by the Western Sydney Ice Dogs. In the final, the North Stars defeated the Ice Dogs 4 goals to 1 and won their first ever Goodall Cup. It was also the first time the AIHL had awarded the Goodall Cup through a tournament-style playoff series. Top-scorer and Most Valuable Player for the North Stars in 2003 was Daryl Bat (York Lions).

The North Stars finished the 2004 regular season in first place and as such were awarded the VIP Cup as minor premiers. Suffering only one loss in the regular season, Newcastle finished well ahead of the pack. The North Stars defeated the Avalanche in double-overtime in the AIHL semi-final held in Erina, but were defeated by the Western Sydney Ice Dogs in the final by a score of 3 goals to 1. Top Scorer in 2004 was imported Canadian Sean Starke (now with the EIHL Manchester Phoenix), and Most Valuable Player was his elder bother Robert Starke, who since become an Australian resident while studying at university.

In 2005 the North Stars raised the level of imports yet again with several professional players, including Jordan Landry (ECHL team Fresno Falcons), Don Nichols (Dutch elite league Heerenveen Flyers) and Nolan Graham (CHL team Lubbock Cotton Kings). The North Stars finished their regular season in second place, and went on to defeat the Western Sydney Ice Dogs in the semi final. The North Stars then defeated the Adelaide Avalanche 3 goals to 1 in the AIHL Final played at their home rink in Warners Bay. The North Stars were awarded their second Goodall Cup since entering the league in 2002. Top scorer for the North Stars in 2005 was Francis Walker (Aurora Tigers & Lakehead University Wolves), and Most Valuable Player was awarded to defenceman Don Nichols (Heereneveen Flyers).

2006 was a year of change for the North Stars, with Coaching Director Rob Barnes leaving for Canada in June, and two key players from 2005, Jordan Landry and Francis Walker, departing early in the season. Due to a star line-up of imported talent, the North Stars were able to replace the two vacant positions during the season without falling out of finals contention. The newly imported players (all North Stars) included Jesse Pyatt (elder brother of NHL player Taylor Pyatt) Trevor Sherban, Marcel Kars, Gary Zinck and Ryan Crane. The North Stars finished the regular season in fourth place, and defeated the minor premiers the Melbourne Ice in the semi final held in Adelaide, South Australia, by 6 goals to 1. The following day the North Stars won their third Goodall Cup in four years when they comprehensively defeated the Adelaide Avalanche 4 goals to nil in the AIHL Final. Top scoring player for 2006 was Marcel Kars (HK Bolzano Junior Foxes, Italy) and Most Valuable Player was awarded to Jesse Pyatt (Guelph University Grphyons). Since the season end in September 2006 Jesse Pyatt (Reading Royals, ECHL) and goalie Matt Ezzy (HK Crvena Zvezda, Serbia) began professional careers.

Matt Ezzy (Goal) and Ray Sheffield (Equipment Manager) travelled with the Mighty Roos (Australian Senior Men's team) to Korea to participate in the IIHF World Championships Division II Group B tournament from the 2nd of April 2007, where they collected Silver.

2007[edit | edit source]

The Inski North Stars began their 2007 season in the second round, with their first game on the 21st of April against the Canberra Knights in Canberra with a shoot-out win, the first ever shoot-out win for the North Stars. The North Stars had a patchy start to the season, losing both early-season games against the Western Sydney Ice Dogs, as well as a disappointing loss to the Bears in Penrith after coming back to lead the game on Saturday the 5th of May.

Early season instability is not unusual for some of the teams in the AIHL, especially those who are able to recruit professional hockey players. The Ice Dogs, North Stars and Blue Tongues especially struggle to find consistency early in the season.

In order to stabilise the team, North Stars General Manager Garry Doré recruited two family friends from a British Columbian Senior A league to act as fill-ins before the gun players could arrive. The two player called in from Smithers BC are brothers Ian and Eric Smith. Local student Kai Curry-Lindhal is a Belgian-born Swede who has also been available to relieve places in the team where necessary.

Other imported players for 2007 include Mark Wires (Central Hockey League, Bowling Green University), Conrad Martin (East Coast Hockey League, Mercyhurst University), Brad Wanchulak (Adelaide Avalanche, Dutch National League, Central Hockey League, Notre Dame University), Trevor Hawkins (Nepean Raiders Junior A, Concordia University Stingers) and 2004 North Star Mike McKenna (York University).

From early May, the North Stars had a big turn-around in performance. By month's end the North Stars were equal 2nd in the AIHL on points.

Early in June, starting goalie Matt Ezzy suffered a groin strain injury that saw him sit out the remainder of the month, and 17 year old Midget goalie Tom Gouldstone started the next three games. Gouldstone had a lively introduction to AIHL, with two games going to shootout (1 win, 1 loss) and an outright win against the Avalanche in Adelaide.

In June, Mark Wires returned to Canada, with Conrad Martin returning home in July. The North Stars recruited former Adelaide Avalanche player Darcy Corcoran from British Columbia, Canada, to fill the void along with the retention of the two Smith brothers, Eric and Ian.

On the 18th of August in Melbourne, the North Stars qualified for the 2007 Finals Series (Penrith NSW) with a 1-0 defeat of the Melbourne Ice. On the 19th of August in Adelaide, North Stars forward Brad Wanchulak broke the AIHL scoring record by registering 67 points in a season. Wanchulak registered 2 more assists on the final game of the season for a final point tally of 69.

The North Stars qualified for their 5th consecutive finals tournament and defeated the Melbourne Ice in the 2nd semi final by a margin of 6 goals to 3. Darcy Corcoran top-scored with an impressive 5 goals and 1 assist.

On Sunday the 2nd of September, the North Stars faced the home team, the Penrith Bears, in the Goodall Cup Final. After falling behind 2-0 early in the third period, the North Stars fought back, with a goal from Brad Wanchulak, and then Darcy Corcoran in a late-period power play. The game went to overtime tied 2 goals each, but a penalty to the North Stars against the run of play gave the Bears the opportunity to set up blue-liner Rob Pasminka, who hammered home the game-winning goal.

Several North Stars players progressed into professional contracts, and some plan to return for future seasons. In the 2007-2008 Northern Hemisphere season, Conrad Martin moved up into the American Hockey League (AHL) on a PTO, while Mark Wires joined former North Stars Ryan Crane and Sean Starke in UK's Elite Ice Hockey League. Mike McKenna captured a spot in Sweden's HockeyAllsvenskan league (1st grade close in level to the AHL), while Darcy Corcoran won a spot with former North Star Henry Acres in Sweden in the 3rd highest league.

2008[edit | edit source]

The Australian Ice Hockey League launched on Saturday the 19th of April. The North Stars played at home on opening night, and defeated the Gold Coast Blue Tongues despite not having any available import players.

The Inski North Stars set a record loss-streak with five consecutive losses in April-May (two of those in a shoot out) before recording a shoot-out win against the Canberra Knights on the 17th of May in Canberra. From that point the North Stars improved their position from 6th-place team to 4th-place by the end of May.

On 22 June the North Stars had two key players injured. Starting goaltender Matt Ezzy and top-scoring forward Colin Nicholson were unavailable for over 4–6 weeks. The North Stars performed poorly in late June and early July, but recovered to record six consecutive outright wins (one game worth double points) to finish the season in fourth place, 1 point shy of 2nd/3rd placed Melbourne Ice and Western Sydney Ice Dogs.

The North Stars underwent a considerable change of personnel in 2008, with several experienced local players being unavailable at the start of the 2008 season. Pier Martin started the season but withdrew after a few weeks, around the same time that Allen Campbell returned to the team. Rookie Matt Price established himself as a top-4 defenceman after returning home to Newcastle from college in Canada. Captain Ray Sheffield suffered a broken foot bone, forcing him to miss most of May.

The North Stars utilised resident University student Matt Vickers early in the season, along with 2006 Melbourne Ice player Gabriel Andre, who played 18 games of 25 total in the season. Other import for the North Stars included college player Grant Buckley in defence, B.J. Pelkey (SPHL), Colin Nicholson (ECHL), Mark Carberry (College), and Mickey Gilchrist (NCAA College) into the forwards.

The Inski Newcastle North Stars became National Champions for the fourth time after winning the Goodall Cup for 2008. The North Stars defeated the Ice Dogs 4-1 in the cup final, after eliminating the Bears in the semi final with a score of 7-5. Mickey Gilchrist was awarded the AIHL Finals MVP award.

In the off-season, Australian representatives Matt Ezzy and Casey Minson were signed to European national league teams. Minson to Ankara in Turkey, and Ezzy to Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Championships[edit | edit source]

Goodall Cup: 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008
Runners-up: 2004, 2007
V.I.P. Cup: 2004, 2009

Squad[edit | edit source]

  • 2 John Halverson (Defence) 178 cm - 77 kg 12/03/1984 Lexington, MA
  • 3 Sean Oultram (Defence) 178 cm - 71 kg 12/06/1986 Newcastle, NSW
  • 4 Rob Starke (Defence) 183 cm - 80 kg 25/03/1977 Montreal, Quebec
  • 6 Ben Morrison (Wing) 180 cm - 78 kg 05/08/1990 Newcastle, NSW
  • 7 Kevin Boyd (Wing) 186 cm - 86 kg Calgary, ALB
  • 8 Matt Vickers (Forward) 187 cm - 84 kg 04/09/1984 Stittsville, ONT
  • 9 Matthew Murrell (Wing) 175 cm - 70 kg 06/05/1987 Newcastle, NSW
  • 12 Adam Kimbley (Wing) 183 cm - 80 kg 15/08/1988 Taree, NSW
  • 13 Eric Lafreniere (Right Wing) 175 cm - 77 kg 11/07/1984 Ste. Anne, Manitoba
  • 14 Matt Price (Defence) 175 cm - 80 kg 29/07/1988 Newcastle, NSW
  • 15 Casey Minson (Wing) 174 cm - 65 kg 08/04/1985 Perth, WA
  • 18 Gicu Oprea (Wing) 182 cm - 75 kg 06/01/1975 Galati, Romania
  • 19 Ray Sheffield (Centre) 182 cm - 86 kg 26/10/1970 Collingwood, ON
  • 22 Mitch Millington (Wing) 195 cm - 90 kg 24/05/1985 Newcastle, NSW
  • 23 Allen Campbell (Wing) 188 cm - 85 kg 04/10/1986 Newcastle, NSW
  • 26 Jeff Bryne (Defence) 192 cm - 95 kg 10/10/1973 Nova Scotia
  • 31 Matt Vaughan (Goal) 180 cm - 80 kg 01/07/1982 Broken Hill, NSW
  • 35 Matt Ezzy (Goal) 194 cm - 100 kg 02/01/1984 Lismore, NSW
  • 43 Adrian Saul (Center) 174 cm - 70 kg 15/03/1976 Scarborough, ON
  • 62 Pier Martin (Wing) 180 cm - 72 kg 04/03/1986 Kentville, NSc
  • 63 John Thornton (Left Wing) 179 cm - 66 kg 27/02/1980 Comox, BC
  • 20 Steven Kaye (Center) 181 cm - 84 kg 14/09/1978 Scarborough, ON

Staff[edit | edit source]

  • Francis Walker (Scout) 182 cm - 85 kg 19/1/1983 St-Eustache, Qu
  • Fred Stevenson (Medic) 170 cm - 21/12/1957 Hamilton, ONT
  • Garry Doré (General Manager) 183 cm 28/04/1962 Port Alberni, BC
  • Chris Martin (Team Manager) 184 cm 21/04/1964 Montreal, PQ
  • Robert Barnes (Coaching Director) 185 cm 10/08/1955 Toronto, ONT
  • Don Champagne (Head Coach) 179 cm 22/10/1950 Espanola, ONT
  • Peter Lambert (Promotions Manager) 182 cm 14/05/1971 Newcastle, NSW

Accolades[edit | edit source]

The North Stars have been recognised as Newcastle's Outstanding Senior Sports team three out of four times since the introduction of the awards, for their 2003, 2004 and 2006 seasons by the Newcastle City Council. The North Stars are finalists again for 2008, to be announced at the gala event on the 6th March 2009.

North Stars goalie Matt Ezzy was voted "Sportsperson of the Year" by the Lake Macquarie City Council for his 2005 season in February 2006, and was a finalist for the same award in 2007. North Stars defenceman and assistant captain Rob Starke is a finalist for Senior Sportsperson of the year, 2007.

The Award winners for 2008 are:

Most Valuable Player: Mickey Gilchrist and Colin Nicholson (dual-winners)

Coaches Award: B.J. Pelkey

Best Defensive Player: Rob Starke

Most Improved Player: Matt Price

Most Dedicated Player: Matthew Vaughan

Best Aussie Player: Casey Minson

Top scorer award for 2008: Mickey Gilchrist

Rivalries[edit | edit source]

The North Stars' primary rivals are the Western Sydney Ice Dogs. The first ever AIHL game for the North Stars was a loss to the Ice Dogs, who joined the league in 2002 along with the North Stars. The North Stars defeated the Ice Dogs in the 2003 and 2008 finals to win the Goodall Cup (both by a margin of 4-1), lost the Cup to the Ice Dogs in the 2004 final, and then defeated the Ice Dogs in the semi-final in 2005.

The North Stars have also established a healthy rivalry with the Adelaide Avalanche, the team they faced (and defeated) in both the 2005 and 2006 Goodall Cup championship games.

Locally, the North Stars also share a rivalry with the Central Coast Rhinos, due to the close proximity between the Central Coast and Newcastle. The two teams play for a local trophy called the 'Impart Cup'. The North Stars won the Impart cup in 2005 with 2 wins, 1 tie and 1 loss. In 2006 the North Stars kept the Impart Cup with 2 wins and 2 losses, but with a much larger goal differential, in 2007 with a record of 3 wins and 1 shootout loss, and for the fourth consecutive year in 2008 with a 3-1 outright win differential.

Honoured Members[edit | edit source]

Terry George's number 21 is the only North Stars jersey to be retired. Terry George was a player and volunteer for the original North Stars team in the NSW Superleague, and lost his battle with cancer in the 1990s. No Newcastle North Stars players have been awarded the Hudson Trophy, however Glen Foll (North Stars 2005) was awarded the Hudson Trophy while playing for the Adelaide Avalanche in 2004.

Team Captains[edit | edit source]

  • Bill Jones (2002)
  • Ray Sheffield (2003-2009)

Head Coach[edit | edit source]

  • Don Champagne (2002-2009)

Coaching Director[edit | edit source]

  • Rob Barnes (2003-2009)

Coaching Assistants[edit | edit source]

  • Garry Doré (2002)
  • Mike Leger (2005-2007)
  • Steven Lindsay (2008-2009)

Team Managers[edit | edit source]

  • Peter Lambert (2002, 2004)
  • Peter Antcliff (2003)
  • Tony Johnston (2005-2006)
  • Christian Martin (2007-2008)
  • Marcus Chapman (2009)

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The North Stars set an AIHL record for most goals scored in a game by one team - and also for the greatest winning margin in a game - when they defeated the Canberra Knights by a score of 21-2 at the HISS on August 6, 2006. Centre Marcel Kars recorded 8 goals and 4 assists in the game.
  • Goaltender Ken Kozak played for the North Stars in 2002. He was in goal for the Australian national team when they defeated New Zealand 58-0 in Perth in 1987, a world record score for an international ice hockey game.

External links[edit | edit source]

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