ORANGE CRUSH: Melbourne Mustangs’ Fraser Carson

Mustangs_IHC_LogoDown in the southern hemisphere, interest in the game of ice hockey is quickly picking up steam. Although it has been played in some aspects for almost a hundred years, it’s now starting to gain popularity not only across the country but making a small dent on the world stage. While the highest level of skill is played in the Australian Ice Hockey League, they are still in the midst of being considered a semi professional league. More attention, fans and consistent revenue year after year will help turn the tide to becoming a professional league where players can earn their keep. Does not paying their players stop them from acquiring top talent? Not in the slightest.

As the players in the AIHL don’t get paid, most play for the love of the game. It’s hockey in its purest and what some might say, its best form. No greediness in the way of a skilled game. The league ices its season while the northern hemisphere is sweating away in the summer. The perfect reason for North American and European players to keep their skills in check by signing with a team down under.

However some of the time imports aren’t what fans come out to see. They flock to the arena to see their home grown Australian players. To see their brothers, fathers, co-workers, play and excel at the game they love.

Enter Fraser Carson.L5Cyl2rd

At only 20 years old, Carson has earned his spot as the starting goaltender for the Melbourne Mustangs. After four years of hard work including international experience, the Mustangs brass has finally given the youngster his shot. Some say goaltenders are a bit of a different breed, and some wonder what makes one decide to get in front of 100 mile an hour slap shot. For Carson, it was a no brainer. “I got into hockey when I got my first pair of roller blades at 4 years old. My parents made my sisters and I take part in learn to skate classes,” remembers Carson. “Then came inline hockey practices and I decided hockey was my sport. One day an absent goalie meant that it was my position, and I loved it and never looked back. I then made the transition to ice at 12 years old after the majority of guys were playing both and wanted me to try it.”

Carson’s play caught the attention of New York State college, SUNY Canton. They offered him to come over and hone his skills in a collegiate setting. Being battered with more pucks then usual along with more ice time helped him carve his style. “I have always loved Carey Price,” says Carson. “I love his style, and try and mimic it a little. I mostly just grab bits and pieces of everyone.”

“Skating most days of the week in Canton in comparison to only two practices a week here in Melbourne makes a big difference.” Unfortunately to Carson, the differences between the game on both continents don’t end there. “The refferees are also a big difference. Consistency is an issue throughout the AIHL, where it was not so much the case in the college system.”

Carson is no stranger to competing on the international stage. With five tournaments under his belt representing the green and gold of Australia, Carson’s accolades will only continue to climb. In 2011, he backstopped Australia to an IIHF Division 3 gold medal. While maintaining a 1.00 GAA and a .971 % save percentage it was a no brainer to award him tournament MVP. “The award was just the cherry on top of a great experience,” says Carson. “The team was a great group of guys and the trip was a lot of fun.”

(Photo: Andrew G Mercieca.)
(Photo: Andrew G Mercieca.)

So being a goaltender with both collegiate AND international experience, where does Carson see his future headed on the ice? “For now my career is here with the Mustangs.” A definite answer from theAussie lad. “Unfortunately with the AIHL only being a semi professional league, we all have to hold everyday jobs as well as playing. It’s a bit of a balancing act, chasing pucks and money all over the world season after season probably wouldn’t make the boss or the boss (girlfriend) very happy at all.”

I’m sure that’s music to Melbourne’s ears. Not only them but the whole of the AIHL including the fans. It’s players like Fraser Carson who genuinely have love for the game that will keep it flourishing, even in the non traditional markets.

Fraser Carson and the Melbourne Mustangs will be in action this Sunday (that’s most likely Saturday for us North American folk) as they host the Sydney Bears. Coinceding with the game, the Mustangs are having a celebration in honour of Canada Day complete with poutine and maple syrup! Should be a great day, puck drop is at 4pm local time.


Melbourne Mustangs gear up for 2014 Season

Mustangs_IHC_LogoThe Melbourne Mustangs have started their late summer training in time to kick off the 2014 winter campaign in April. (It’s still weird that I’m writing winter and April in the same sentence.) In attendance were team star Patrick O’Kane (no joke), Brendan Oakes, Matt Stringer and Micheal James. Coming off a strong 2013 season, the Mustangs are leaving no stone unturned and they feel they will have what it takes come playoff time.

The Mustangs will open up their season on Sunday, April 13. They’ll have their hands full right off the bat as the reigning Goodall Cup champions, the Sydney Ice Dogs come to The Stable. I’m looking to see if O’Kane will be able to capitalize on his 51 points of last season and move up a notch or two on the leader board. This will be the perfect test for O’Kane and the Mustangs to see where some of the off season moves and training is at.

Pat O'Kane. Photo:
Pat O’Kane. Photo:

To be the best, you got to beat the best.

The Sydney Ice Dogs however will be starting their training tomorrow with team tryouts starting in early March. Sharpshoote Anthony Wilson, who was apart of the Ice Dogs foundation into the AIHL has decided to retire and not return for the 2014 campaign. An integral part of the Ice Dogs line up, he hangs up his skates with two Goodall Cups under his belt and a 14 year career spanning the Ice Dogs, and with Team Australia internationally.

The Australian Ice Hockey League is an exciting brand of hockey that most don’t know or here about. I will be doing updates on the league throughout the season. So after the Stanley Cup is raised, head down under to get your hockey fix.

Melbourne Sees Double As Ice, Mustangs Claim Victory

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.

(Photo Credit: MJ Wragg Photography.)
(Photo Credit: MJ Wragg Photography.)

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.

(Sean Jones. Photo credit: MJ Wragg Photography.)
(Sean Jones. Photo credit: MJ Wragg Photography.)

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.