It was a bittersweet feeling for John Kennedy jnr in Newcastle across the weekend.
The rookie mentor was named Australian Ice Hockey League coach of the year but 2019 play-off hosts the Northstars fell short of lifting the Goodall Cup for an unprecedented seventh time.
The Northstars were bundled out of title contention in Saturday night's semi-final at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium after going down 3-2 to Perth Thunder, who were in turn beaten 5-2 by the Sydney Bears in Sunday's decider at the same venue.
"It was nice to be acknowledged with an individual award and I really appreciate it, but we all wanted that cup so badly," Kennedy jnr told the Newcastle Herald.
Kennedy jnr, who crossed over from player to coach for the first time this season, received the national prize having helped the Northstars finish second on the competition ladder after the six-time champions missed finals the previous two years.
He said he was surprised to get the nod over Rob Starke, who steered the Canberra Brave to a runaway minor premiership.
"I didn't expect it [award] because I thought Rob had another great year with Canberra," Kennedy jnr said.
Defending champions Canberra were eventually upset 6-4 by the Bears in Saturday's opening semi at Warners Bay after conceding four unanswered goals in the third and final period.
"That's the thing with finals weekend, anything can happen," Kennedy jnr said.
Richie Tesarik scored a double for the Northstars, netting in the first and third terms, but Perth managed to score three goals in between.
"It was a really tight game and the way we came out in the first period I thought it was going to be a landslide," Kennedy jnr said.
"However, they were able to equalise pretty quick and that gave them the confidence they needed to stay in the game.
"I wouldn't say we made fewer mistakes, but they capitalised on the ones we did make."
Kennedy jnr has yet to commit to coaching the Northstars again in 2020.
Meanwhile, in other major AIHL awards Sydney Ice Dogs player Dylan Quaile was named MVP, Canberra's Matt Climie picked up best goalkeeper and Bears import Jake Ratcliffe received rookie of the year.