THE Newcastle North Stars have landed a blow on arch-rivals the Sydney Ice Dogs by luring their skipper Robert Malloy to the Hunter Ice Skating Stadium next season.
The Connecticut-bred defender will be joined at Warners Bay by another former Ice Dog, forward Mitch Bye.
The pair are both Central Coast-based and the combination of less travel time to training and the appointment of ex-Ice Dogs coach Andrew Petrie was a major attraction.
Former Central Coast Rhinos recruit Dane Davis has also joined the roster to replace import goal tender Harrison May.
After missing the Australian Ice Hockey League play-offs for the first time since 2003 last season, Newcastle needed rejuvenation.
The 28-year-old Malloy is one of the league’s top defenders. Last season he also displayed his scoring abilities, by finishing 15th on the AIHL’s point-scorers’ list with 12goals and 24assists.
‘‘Rob Malloy is an outstanding defenceman, a real leader and an impact player,’’ North Stars general manager Garry Doré said.
‘‘We’re excited by that.’’
Malloy said on Thursday having the support of the Warners Bay faithful would be a welcome change after four seasons with the Liverpool-based Ice Dogs.
‘‘It was never an easy place to play coming up to Newcastle, they’ve always played very well in their home barn,’’ Malloy said.
‘‘As far as bitterness goes, I’ve never felt a bitterness between the two teams.
‘‘We’ve never really fought with them since I’ve been in Australia. We’ve had some big games with each other and it’s going to be interesting being on the other side of the spectrum.’’
Malloy’s leadership experience will also be essential to the North Stars, especially as veterans Ray Sheffield and Rob Starke near retirement.
‘‘My type of leadership is leading by example,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m not the most vocal leader in the world.
‘‘It’ll take time for me to meet the guys and establish myself before I can become a leader.’’
Malloy initially joined the Ice Dogs as an import, but passed his Australian citizenship test last week.
He is hopeful to be naturalised by Australia Day next month to take his place in the national side at the International Ice Hockey Federation’s World Senior Men’s Championship Division II in Iceland in April.
The North Stars have lost their imports May, Chris Wilson and Cody Danberg from last season, while John Kennedy will remain on the roster as a permanent resident.
That frees up four import spots.
Doré said the North Stars were talking to a few talented players and finalising the signatures of two imports.