Northstars captain Robert Malloy notched up his 200th Australian Ice Hockey League this weekend but the Canberra Brave spoiled the celebrations by beating Newcastle twice in a top-of-the-table double header.
Title holders Canberra extended their lead at the top of the competition ladder to 16 points over the Northstars, with the Brave defeating Newcastle 4-2 at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday and 3-2 in the nation's capital on Saturday.
"It was good for us to see where we're lacking," Northstars coach John Kennedy jnr told AIHL media.
"They are a great team. They're fast, execute at a high pace and have set the bar for the whole league this season.
"With about five or six weeks left in the year we know where we have to get to and know how we have to commit over the next month to be ready for it."
The Northstars have now lost all three outings against the Brave in 2019 and the teams meet once more in Canberra on August 17 before the Newcastle-based finals series.
Sammy Banga scored three of the Northstars' four goals this weekend. Richard Tesarik netted the other.
Newcastle remain in second spot, 10 clear of their nearest rivals the Sydney Bears.
Next up the Northstars have the Sydney Ice Dogs away on Friday and the Bears at home on Saturday.