The Newcastle North Stars have defeated the Western Sydney Ice Dogs 4-1 at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium to win their 4th national championship in 6 years. The six consecutive Goodall Cup Final appearances and the four championships from those six appearances are both records unequalled by any other team in Australia.
The North Stars overcame a horror start to the season where they languished at the bottom few places of the table but survived injury and the poor start to finish the season with a club record 53 points.
The Sydney Bears finished the season in first place with 61 points, but were unable to keep pace with the offence of the Newcastle team, behind 2-0 at the end of the first period and making ground late in the game to close the gap to 7-5. The Ice Dogs won their way through to the Goodall Cup Final with a thrilling semi final on Saturday, breaking the 1-1 deadlock with the Melbourne Ice in overtime to win 2-1
Top prospects for the Ice Dogs going into the final were top scorers Mitch Strang, Frank Angyal and Tyler Sheddon. The Ice Dogs finished the season in 2nd place, just one point ahead of 4th placed Newcastle and on equal points with rivals Melbourne.
While the hero for the semi final was Colin Nicholson, Mickey Gilchrist was the outstanding player for the final, scoring a Hat Trick including two goals scored short-handed on the penalty kill. BJ Pelkey was the other scorer for the North Stars, with Frank Angyal the lone scorer for the Ice Dogs. Gilchrist was awarded the Goodall Cup Final MVP award for his game.
The goaltending battle between Herbert and Ezzy was outstanding, with both players putting it all on the line for their teams. Herbert kept his team in the game several times, while Ezzy was near perfect with only a power play screen spoiling his stats for the night.
General Manager Garry Dore praised his team's achievement after the game.
"I love this team, and I love winning. This team has done something special, for yourselves, for the people around you who do so much to make this team tick, and for the fans and people of Newcastle who have supported us."
The team enjoyed wild celebrations in front of a jubilant home crowd after the game, especially after the disappointment of losing the national title to the Bears in 2007.
The AIHL will resume in April 2009, with the Newcastle North Stars as national champions. Most import players are now returning to their professional teams in North America, while Mickey Gilchrist will join Aussie Head Coach Steve McKenna in the Asian League of Ice Hockey, Gilchrist signing for the Nikko Ice Bucks.
Two of the North Stars Australian Representatives will persue professional careers in North America in their Division I preparations. Matt Ezzy is travelling to U.S.A to try out with CHL outfit Texas Brahmas, while Casey Minson will play in Edmonton in the Chinook League of the Allan Cup.