15/04/2024

Patrick Nadin scores the overtime winner for the Newcastle Northstars to send them to the Goodall Cup Final. (Photo: AK Hockey Shots/Newcastle Northstars Facebook)

The Newcastle Northstars punched their ticket to the 2022 Goodall Cup Final in a classic against the Sydney Bears at O’Brien Icehouse Arena on Saturday night.

Coming from behind twice the Northstars were able to level things up at three goals each and force overtime where Patrick Nadin would score the winner.

Getting jumped early through two Tomas Landa goals, the Northstars were able to settle into the game to win a thriller.

“Our first five or ten minutes, we maybe had a little bit of a hangover from the night before,” Newcastle Northstars head coach Kevin Noble told The Inner Sanctum.

“Maybe licking our wounds a little bit and not ready to compete the way we needed to compete.

“Obviously on the other side, you have a team [the Bears] coming off a huge win.

“[It] took us a while to get at it but we responded well. I think the adversity and the mental toughness is a characteristic of a championship team.”

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Just as they had done throughout the regular season it was the Northstars’ top stars that were able to come up with crucial moments.

Daniel Berno would snipe a goal past Anthony Kimlin to tie up the game with only two minutes remaining in regulation time.

It was a case of big players coming up in big moments yet again for the Northstars.

“At this time of year, you don’t win without goaltending and you don’t win without your best players being your best players,” Noble said.

“The top guys that have got you there, they have to be the ones to keep doing it.

“They have been great for us all year and I have no doubt that they will bring the same work ethic and level of intensity tomorrow.

“There are so many guys that contribute to our team and have been huge components this year that don’t get enough attention.”

The game was always destined to come down to goaltending and who would blink first.

Charlie Smart in goal for the Northstars was superb, keeping the game tight, coming up with several big saves to keep Newcastle in the match.

“We are really fortunate to get Charlie back here,” Noble continued.

“[James] Downie was with us for a lot of the year, but some people look at him [Smart] as Downie’s replacement.

“If they were both healthy Charlie would have been the starter and Charlie has been our guy all year.

“He has been tremendous, some big saves for us and he will be great again tomorrow.”

Rookie of the Year and rising star Ethan Hawes was once again outstanding for the Northstars.

Playing big minutes with defensive partner John Kennedy, it was Hawes who started the Newcastle charge with a goal in the first period.

A reputation that continues to grow the 20-year-old looked every part like a finals player.

“He has developed a lot this year Ethan,” Noble said.

“The scary thing is we talk about it as a coaching staff and management, I still think he has another step.

“He is going to be a great player for many years and certainly in this league.

“This year his development will even be more so, and really looking forward to seeing his progress over the next couple of years.”

Attention will now turn to the semi-final rematch as they take on the CBR Brave Sunday.

A chance for the Northstars to rest up, reset and look to turn around their 6-1 semi-final loss to the Brave.

“You obviously got bested last night from that team [Brave],” Noble continued.

“We wanted to make sure that we obviously get through this team, not overlook Sydney, they are a quality side.

“One game winner takes all it’s anybody’s now, and I think in these types of formats you see it enough in sports, whoever has their best tomorrow will be the champion.

“Get some rest, enjoy this one for a bit, the guys are excited and chomping at the bit here.”

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