Northstars recruit James Downie says he'll return to Newcastle down the track but the goalkeeper remains focused on trying to crack the professional ranks in the US.
The 20-year-old will line-up for his new club against the Sydney Ice Dogs in the opening two games of the Hawkesbury Classic series, which starts at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium on Sunday (4pm), before departing the country on August 9.
Downie's destination is North American Hockey League outfit the Maryland Black Bears and their upcoming "main camp", which acts as a trial to make the 2020 training squad.
"This is everything I've worked for the last four years," he said.
Cattai-based Downie has travelled back and forth to Canada and the US since he was 12, most recently at the Sheridan Hawks in Wyoming.
He has previously played with Australian Ice Hockey League clubs the Ice Dogs, Sydney Bears and Melbourne Ice but, having signed for the Northstars prior to coronavirus crisis, says "I'll be with Newcastle for a while now."
Northstars coach John Kennedy jnr said he was "super excited" about the upcoming Hawkesbury Classic.
"It gives the boys, me and the fans something to look forward to. Obviously it's not like the AIHL season, but at least we get some type of hockey. This gives us a little bit of normality in this unprecedented time," he said.
Newcastle travel to meet the Ice Dogs at Macquarie Ice Rink on August 8 and 15. The four-match series wraps up at Warners Bay on August 22. The AIHL season was officially cancelled this week.
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