Deeside Dragons came away empty-handed from their testing double-header against the NIHL North 1 Moralee Conference’s top two.
The Dragons headed to leaders Solway Sharks on Saturday night buoyed by their brilliant 9-4 derby win at home to Blackburn Hawks and by the arrival of new signing Brad Betteridge.
Scott McKenzie’s men kept the Sharks at bay until eight seconds before the end of the first period when Struan Tonnar opened the scoring.
The advantage was doubled two minutes into the second period through Marc Fowley.
But the Dragons deservedly reduced the deficit in the 34th minute when player-coach McKenzie dispatched Markus Kankaanranta’s pass from the right-hand face-off circle.
That was the way it stayed until the 55th minute when the Sharks, who earlier in the period had defended superbly during a powerplay, beat the impressive Jonah Armstrong for the third and final time.
The Dragons had little time to lick their wounds following the 3-1 defeat as they welcomed second-placed Billingham Stars to the Deeside Ice Rink on Sunday.
The Stars raced into a three-goal lead inside the first 12 minutes, Daniel Palmebjörk (2) and Michael Elder doing the damage.
But the Dragons were much better after the interval and they thought they had got them themselves back into the game when player-of-the-match Ross Kennedy blasted home.
The Stars hit back, however, with three goals through Dennis Bostrum (2) and Michael Bowman, and while James Parsons then finished off a goalmouth scramble, they took a 6-2 lead into the final period.
And it was a lead they were never going to relinquish after Chris Sykes and Jack Watkins struck.
The battling Dragons did pull another goal back when Kennedy skated through the entire Stars side before finishing in style.
But it was Bostrom who had the final say, completing his hat-trick, and sealing a 9-3 win.
Dragons new boy Betteridge featured in both matches after signing a two-way link-up deal with Hull Pirates.
McKenzie, who first worked with Betteridge when he was in charge of the Pirates, said: “I’ve known Brad for a number of years now and he is a natural talent.
“He is skilled, fast, extremely gritty and works hard for the team.”
Betteridge will practise with the Pirates while playing games for the Dragons, who head to the Hawks on Saturday (5.45pm) and Whitley Warriors on Sunday (5pm) in their final fixtures of the year.