The Newcastle Rescue Northstars will be bolstered by the addition of Canadians Trey Phillips and Luke Simpson for the remainder of the 2019 AIHL season.
Both players will arrive in Australia on June 6, taking the place of Northstars imports Ondrej Smach and Domink Gabaj who have returned home to Europe.
Smach was only available through to the end of May due to other commitments, and Gabaj was injured during the game versus the Melbourne Ice on May 18 requiring surgery and much of the remainder of the 2019 season to heal. Read more on that here.
“I’m really excited to get down there and meet the guys and the staff. I’m excited to be joining a team that is having a strong season. I am hoping I can contribute and help the team," Simpson said.
“Off ice I am looking forward to surfing and taking in Australia. I haven’t been that far away from home so it will be a neat experience.”
Phillips said he was also excited to experience Australia and play hockey down under.
“I’m excited to travel and experience Australia, meet new teammates, make new friends, maybe talk to a girl,” he said.
“I’d like to get up on surfboard at least once.”
Phillips has a long hockey resume through school, junior and college and most recently has played close to 50 games in the East Coast Hockey League for the Jacksonville Ice Men and the Fort Wayne Komets.
It was during his time with the Canmore Eagles in the Alberta Junior Hockey League that Phillips became friends with Simpson, where they shared three seasons together on the same team.
Simpson is another Notre Dame Hounds alumni and after leaving Phillips and the Canmore Eagles, went on to a college career with the College of St Scholastica, University of Minnesota-Duluth and the Mount Royal University in Canada.
Most recently, Simpson has been a member of the Allen Cup winning team, the Lacombe Generals.
“I’m excited to be playing again with my old junior teammate, Trey,” Simpson said.
Northstars general manager Garry Doré said that these two players wanted the opportunity to play together again after going separate ways once their time in juniors was done.
“Playing for the Northstars gives Luke and Trey the opportunity to play together once more, and we couldn’t be more excited to have them joining our team,” he said.
The Northstars farewelled Smach and Gabaj following last weekend’s games in Melbourne. Doré paid them tribute on their departure.
“We knew that Ondrej was only here for a short time, and it’s unfortunate that Dom’s injury prematurely ended his time with the Northstars this season," he said.
“It’s been a stroke of luck, however that we’ve been able to pick up a dynamic forward/defensive combination in Luke and Trey.”
Having played together for three seasons in the AJHL, it’s hoped that the two will bring a ready-made chemistry to add to the dynamic performance the Northstars have demonstrated since the season started at the end of April.
The Northstars currently occupy the top two scoring places on the AIHL leaders board in imports Sammy Banga and Francis Drolet. Gabaj, Richie Tesarik, Tomas Landa and captain Bert Malloy are in the top 15 scorers across the league.
The scoring fever has also run through the lines with Liam Manwarring, Mathew Lindsay, Hamish Powell, Tim Stanger, Patrick Nadin and Matthew Wetini all scoring goals this season.
Currently the Newcastle Rescue Northstars are sitting at the top of the AIHL ladder with just the one loss, suffered at the hands of the Melbourne Mustangs at home on May 19.
Their nine outright wins have them sitting six points ahead of the CBR Brave, who have also only lost a single game, with seven outright wins.
The Northstars will face Sydney Bears in Sydney on Sunday, June 2 – the team’s first one-game weekend since the start of the season. The puck drops at Macquarie Ice Rink at 5pm.
Northstars fans will be able to see Phillips and Simpson in action when the team takes on Sydney Ice Dogs at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday, June 9. The puck drops 4pm.