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Perth Thunder fall 2-1 to Newcastle North Stars to close out first weekend

Editor's note: Luke Worthington kicks off our Perth Thunder coverage by looking back at their first weekend of the season! You can listen to Perth Thunder games (and Luke) on radio here.

Courtesy Perth Thunder

The Perth Thunder went down to the Newcastle North Stars 2-1 in the second and final game of their weekend series at ‘the Thunder Dome’ Perth Ice Arena on Sunday night.

The Thunder walked away with one of a possible six points from the weekend, after losing to Newcastle 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday afternoon. The shootout win, followed by a regulation win saw the North Stars take five of a possible six points to kick off their 2016 season.

With the debut of ‘Thunder Radio’, the weekend also marks the first time in the club's five-year history that there has been a live stream from a home game.

Perth started the game strongly, forcing the North Stars to take shots from out wide and preventing them from working their way into high percentage shooting areas. With one minute remaining in the first period new signing Michael Dorr pushed the puck up to David Kudla at the blue line, allowing Kudla to drop the puck down into the slot for Benjamin Breault who sniped the first goal of the day.

With a one-goal lead in the second period, the Thunder were put under heavy pressure being outshot 14 to 10 by the visitors. Thunder goaltender Thomas Heemskerk came up big for his new side, with the Allen Cup winner effectively standing on his head to record a shutout period and keep the score at 1-0 heading into the second intermission.

The third period saw the North Stars tie the game only 50 seconds in when David Ferrari collected a rebound by Heemskerk just in front of the Thunder’s crease and put the puck in the top corner of the net.

The 2015 Goodall Cup Champions scored the game-winning goal with 12 minutes remaining in the period, when an airmail pass by Thunder defenseman Rob Hasselhurst was caught in the hand of Canadian Scott Swiston in the high slot, who with a quick release beat Heemskerk on the glove side.

The Thunder were unable to convert on three power play opportunities in the final 10 minutes of the period, but the Newcastle penalty kill led by American defensemen Rob Malloy and John Kennedy Jr. proved too strong, holding off the Thunder until the final buzzer.

Perth Thunder head coach Dave Kenway was unimpressed with his side’s performance, saying it was unforced errors that cost them the game in the end.

"It was just unforced errors, the guys fell back into old habits that we’ve been trying to beat out of them all pre season and just made rookie errors that they wouldn’t usually make," he said.

"They started playing an individual game and it showed. Newcastle walked all over us."

Kenway said the turnover by Rob Hasselhurst that cost the game-winning goal has already been looked into.

"I think he [Hasselhurst] will have nightmares over that one," he said.

"I have specifically spoken to him about it, and yeah it happens. We just have to move forward, he will learn from it."

On new goalie signing Thomas Heemskerk, Kenway said he was happy with the acquisition made by Perth Thunder general manager Stan Scott.

"Heemskerk stood on his head this weekend for us, he was a great signing and we’re happy with his effort," he said.

"It was awesome to see, he made some really good saves."

Moving forward Kenway said the Thunder’s second round bye will help the squad regroup.

"The bye is going to give us the chance to work on a lot of things," he said.

"Getting our systems perfect, guys knowing where they’re meant to be, knowing exactly what they’re doing and fixing a few errors we made tonight and refining what we need to do," he said.

"It was a good hit out this weekend, unfortunately we only got one point out of it, but we learnt a lot and we can move forward from this one at practice and look forward to playing to Mustangs in two weeks."