What a crazy night of action in the Australian Ice Hockey League. The Melbourne Ice and Melbourne Mustangs both came out victorious to keep the standings in a tight race.
The Ice played at home to a crowd of 1100 on Friday in the first of their two game set with the Perth Thunder. 1st period was kept close until Perth opened up the scoring with .26 seconds left to go. It was a lot of the same in the second period but both team’s were becoming antsy as the penalty box started to fill up. Melbourne killed off 4 penalties which allowed Todd Graham to score the equalizer on the powerplay of their own.
By the time the third came around however, all hell broke less. Jason Balcig and Glen Mayer notched two quick goals for the Ice as tensions started to mount. With the score now 3-1 in favour of the Ice, Andrew Erzen headed to the box as he was given 2 minutes and a 10 minute misconduct for a check to the head and Chris Frank followed suit with given a 20 minute misconduct. It seemed that everything was going in Perth’s favour. That wasn’t the case however as Melbourne stormed back with two more goals. The final ended 5-3.
The Mustangs were in a tight game of their own as well and earned a win in the crucial road for 4th place. Andrew Fitzgerald opened up the scoring for Melbourne in the first period and Newcastle equalized it on the powerplay from Jeff Martens. All was quite in the second period except for trips to the box.
The third period was much of the same as both teams battled back and forth evenly. Both goaltenders put on a show to keep the crowd on it’s feet. It looked like we were heading to overtime until Brendan McDowell’s powerplay goal with 29 seconds left sealed the deal for the Mustangs.
In other action Friday night, the Sydney Ice Bears downed the Adelaide Adrenaline 6-4. What a great night of hockey down under.
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.
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.
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: