MISSING the play-offs last season for the first time since 2003 left a sour taste in the mouth for the Newcastle North Stars.
The Australian Ice Hockey League heavyweights are not used to underachieving.
Recruitment has been a high priority over the off-season for new coach Andrew Petrie as he aims to return the North Stars to Goodall Cup title contention.
A former NHL draft pick with Colorado Avalanche, Luke Moffatt, will headline the import list when he arrives next month from Norwegian premier league club Storhamar Dragons.
The 22-year-old American-born forward will be joined by Czech defenceman Jan Safar and Canadian forward Geordie Wudrick.
‘‘We’ve been very fortunate that we’ve landed the guys we’ve targeted, and we’re extremely happy with not only the level of skill they have, but the character of the guys we’re talking to as well,’’ Petrie said.
Former Central Coast Rhinos goal tender Dayne Davis has also joined the club, while defender John Kennedy returns to complete a five-man import list.
The North Stars hope both Davis and Kennedy will gain permanent residency and become Australian players by May or June, opening a spot for another import to join the roster.
The new imports follow the signing of former Sydney Ice Dogs duo Robert Malloy and Mitch Bye in December.
The North Stars begin their season with a double-header on April 25 and 26 at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium against Adelaide Adrenaline and Canberra Brave.
Petrie said he expected young Newcastle products Hayden Sheard and Pat Nadin to line up on the opening weekend after excellent pre-seasons.
‘‘From my own perspective I have been really impressed with my own local Newcastle guys,’’ he said.
‘‘I can’t overstate that. They’ll play a more prominent part in the team this year than they were probably expecting.’’
The North Stars are expected to be more defence-oriented under Petrie.
The former Sydney Ice Dogs coach was known as ‘‘Fridge’’ during his playing career, due to his physicality.
‘‘We might play with a more defence-focused structure,’’ Petrie said.
‘‘That’s certainly going to be a pillar of my coaching style, to make sure we look after our end first.’’