The atmosphere at the Icehouse could not have been better. It front of a crowd of 900, the Melbourne Ice sailed to victory in one of the more intense games of the season.
The Ice Bears were the ones to get on the board first as Jan Koubek netted a powerplay goal followed by another quick one to grab a lead against the hometown team. Chris Frank had other ideas though as he cut the lead in half with .06 seconds to go in the first period.
Frank tallied another in the second along with Jason Baclig and Michael Schlamp to put them in the lead. It was in the third period though where things got rough. 67 minutes in penalties were handed out to both sides but the Melbourne Ice capitalized on being the last penalized team. All in all, the Ice came away winners with a final score of 7-3.
Melbourne’s next game is July 20th when they travel to Canberra to take on the Knights. Check out some of the highlights from this past game below.
The Canberra Knights are one of the oldest teams in the league, forming before the AIHL was even founded. 1981 was their debut season playing against international and Australian squads in exhibition games. 13 years saw players come and ago until a 16 year old Canadian goalie by the name of Jason Elliot suited up in 1992. Elliot would go on to win the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002 as their third string goalie.
The Knights original league struggled through the pressure and eventually folded. So in the year 2000, Canberra, along with the Sydney Bears and Adelaide Avalanche (later renamed Adrenaline) formed what we see today as the 9 team Australian Ice Hockey League. The Canberra Knights are an essential part of Australian Hockey and Australian hockey history.
Canberra ices imports in the form of two Canadians, one Fin and one Frenchman along their countrymen for their current season.
The Canberra Knights next game is July 13th against the Adelaide Adrenaline! Puck drop is 4:30 local time.
After posting my article on the Melbourne Ice yesterday, I was contacted by Andrew Lamrock. Lamrock resides in Australia and obviously knows a lot more about the team then I do as he is the former President of the team. He directed me to the team’s documentary on winning their 3rd Goddall Cup in a row.
Folks, this is one of the best hockey trailers I’ve seen. It’s actually influenced me to buy the DVD. I can’t wait to see the action of the AIHL light up my living room.
Check it out for yourself and let me know what you think.
Next up we head to the far west coast of Australia with the Perth Thunder.
One of the newer teams in the league, the Thunder were founded in 2010 and played their inaugural season in 2012. Managing two games under .500, they did not reach the finals. That didn’t halt their progress though as they currently sit in fourth place behind the Melbourne Ice in the season taking place as we speak.
Perth ices 5 Canadians, One American and the rest of the roster is made up of Australians and New Zealandsers. Both Aussies and Kiwis can play in each other’s leagues and are not considered import players allowing them for unlimited amounts. Captain Samuel Wilson won gold with Team Australia in the 2003 IIHF Division III Under 18 Championships in Mexico City.
The Perth Thunder play their next game Saturday July 13th against the Newcastle North Stars! Puck drops at 5pm local time.
The Melbourne Ice first came into the AIHL in 2002. Sponsored by Medibank they play their home games out of the originally named Medibank Icehouse. The Ice started their history on a low note, failing to reach the playoffs the first four years. As they grind and gritted through the low times, they eventually iced a competitive team and attracted many passionate fans.
Their fiercest rivalry comes from across town. Their roommates if you will, in the Medibank Icehouse are the Melbourne Mustangs whose fans bleed orange. One night in the Icehouse with these two teams rocking will leave you dazed and confused.
The Ice are currently playing for their fourth consecutive Goodall Cup at this very moment. The team is composed of veteran Australian players such as Thomas Powell, Todd Graham and Joseph Hughes. American and former member of the CHL’s San Antonio Rampage, Chris Frank is also apart of the Ice on defence. As for our home-country talent, Melbourne ices 3 Canadians.
The Melbourne are back in action on Sunday July 14th as they take on the Sydney Bears. Puck drop is at 3:30 local time.
My Q&A with New Zealand goaltender Justin Findlay earlier in the week got me interested in researching a couple of leagues that are south of the equator. This is the first of our look at the two biggest leagues.
The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) is a semi professional league and a member of the IIHF. The AIHL is played a little different in that their periods are 15 minutes long rather then the usual 20. Formed in 2000, it hosts 9 teams all across the country.
The regular season start around April and finished up in the beginning of September to get ready for the playoffs. Players then play for the Goodall Cup Championship.
The AIHL has attracted NHL stars such as Steve McKenna and Rob Zamuner. Personally I’ve taken a liking to the Melbourne Ice. I’ve been following the season this year even though the games are in the middle of the night on my side of the world. It’s great hockey and should do any hockey fan proud.
Check out some highlights from least year’s final: