Australian Ice Hockey

November 14, 2007


Hockey in Australia started in 1904 with field hockey gear in Australia’s first ice rink, in Adelaide SA. Soon the founding Reid family moved to Melbourne, where the first international game was played vs. the visiting USS Baltimore’s crew in 1907. By 1909 the first ever inter-state game was played and won by Victoria, and the Goodall Cup was born. The Goodall cup remained an independent national prize until it was incorporated into the AIHL in 2002, nearly 100 years later.More recently in 1981 the NSW Ice Hockey Association started the NSW Superleague with a senior men’s competition. The teams included the Warringah Bombers, Canberra Knights, Newcastle North Stars, Sydney Icemen, Canterbury Eagles and the Blacktown Flyers. In 1982 the Macquarie Bears replaced the Icemen, and the Newcastle North Stars dropped out of the competition when the Wharf Rd ice rink closed its doors.During the early 90’s, the competition went through a lean period with some clubs moving in and out of the competition. In 1994, a newly named East Coast Super League began and they struggled for stability. As more teams changed, entered and left the ECSL in 1998-2000, change was necessary for 2001. The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) was formed with three teams, following the withdrawal of the Canterbury and Blacktown teams. These three teams were the Sydney Bears, the Adelaide Avalanche and the Canberra Knights. The League was organised ready for expansion, necessary for survival, but in small steps with certainty.The Adelaide Avalanche won the 2001 AIHL season, and for the first time a play-off game was introduced, which the Avalanche also won. The Sydney Bears won the Goodall Cup competition, held in Newcastle, the last time that the Cup was held independently to the AIHL. Newcastle, along with Western Sydney and Melbourne made plans to join the AIHL for 2002.The AIHL’s plans for expansion came to fruition in 2002 with the 6-team competition. The Goodall Cup, Australia’s ice hockey holy grail, and 3rd oldest ice hockey trophy worldwide, became part of the AIHL. In the play-off game the Sydney Bears defeated the Adelaide Avalanche to take the Goodall Cup. Adelaide had taken the minor premiership but was unable to win vs. the Bears on the day. The Western Sydney Ice Dogs had a good inaugural year, coming 3rd in the competition, but the Newcastle North Stars and the Melbourne Ice finished under the Canberra Knights at the bottom of the ladder.2003 was significant in that there was a tournament-style finals series for the first time in the AIHL’s history. The top four of six teams played elimination semi-finals, the two winners advancing to the Goodall Cup final on the Sunday. The North Stars and the Ice Dogs defeated the Bears and the Avalanche respectively, and the North Stars went on to win the National Championship 4 goals to 1.In 2004 the league included exhibition games against the applicant Brisbane Blue Tongues, but remained a 6 team competition. The Avalanche had finished in first place from the regular season (minor premiers) from 2000-2003, but it was the North Stars in 2004. The North Stars defied the minor premiers curse in the semi final, winning in double overtime against the Avalanche. The fairytale ended there, however, when they were defeated in the final by the Western Sydney Ice Dogs, 3 goals to 1. The Ice Dogs were now the Australian Champions.2005 saw the league blessed with 2 more expansion teams. As anticipated the Brisbane Blue Tongues entered the AIHL, along with new venture the Central Coast Rhinos. Both new teams quickly gathered strong local support. While the Rhinos struggled to make an impact throughout their first season, the Blue Tongues were looking dangerous and dominant half-way through the season before a horrid stretch of injuries and player availability problems sunk their championship hopes.Adelaide returned to domination in 2005, finishing the regular season in first place as they had done almost every year since the AIHL began. The curse of the minor premiers stuck fast though, when the Avalanche along with the North Stars won through to their AIHL final in September 2005, Adelaide losing the final to Newcastle 3 goals to 1. For the first time ever the finals were broadcasted in text blog form to a live audience from the venue in Newcastle all over Australia, and as far as UK and Canada overseas.2006 was another year of steady progress, with the Rhinos winning a fight to keep their Erina-based rink running, and all eight teams forging forward. All teams had their successes, but the big mover was the Melbourne Ice, who struck out quickly and never gave up their grip on 1st place on the AIHL ladder once they reached it. Adelaide was consistantly good, but Sydney, Newcastle and Western Sydney all had times of troubles. All three teams fought desperately for wins late in the season, but in the end it was the Newcastle North Stars and the Western Sydney Ice Dogs who won through to the finals that were held in Adelaide. The Bears and Blue Tongues narrowly missed out on a place.The 2006 Adelaide AIHL finals were a success and re-tapped a good hockey market. The home side won through to the final after an epic battle with the Ice Dogs, and Newcastle shocked Melbourne with a 6-1 finals showcase. Newcastle, despite just squeaking into the final four and being least favoured of all teams to win the title, put together a faultless final with a 4-0 shutout over Adelaide’s Avalanche. For the first time, the finals were broadcast over the Internet as a live audio feed, an improvement over the text blog feed of the previous year.In 2007 the AIHL is back with a full eight teams again, and a new location for the league with the Bears now playing out of the Penrith Ice Palace. The quality of players and imports continues to improve, assisting our locals in reaching higher and higher standards of hockey. The AIHL has made its debut on Australian TV in Brisbane, and many games are being broadcast via the Internet for the benefit of fans across the globe. 


The Business of Hockey

November 2, 2007

One of the purposes of competitive Hockey, indeed the only purpose according to some, is to win. In order to do this, coaches and players need to be aligned as to margin of the win, their capability as players, the equipment they use, the ability of their competition, crowd support, or lack there of, and how the ref’s will apply the rules of the game in the heat of competition. Sport can provide a meaningful metaphor for Business practise. In order for a Business to succeed, the management and employees need to understand their objectives and be able to articulate these objectives in clear and concise terms so that these objectives are both actionable and measurable.  Vis – bang that puck into the net! The capability of the business needs to be understood, competitor ability and community (read crowd) support, or otherwise,  for activities of the Business is important, equipment (brains in a service Business or plant in a non service Business) needs to help win the game and government rules and their impact on commercial success, needs to been taken into account. Imagine the impact of government policy on business energy use arising from “peak oil” and “global warming” over the next 2 years much less 10. Boy, does this create new opportunities for winners and losers, Only when these matters are widely understood and accepted can the the strategies and actions be developed and implemented to win the commercial game. This lot is best wrapped up in the development and implementation of your Business Plan. I wonder how many organisations use the Business Planning process to the same degree of effectivness as the Stanley or Goodall Cup winners?….. Hockey homework gentle reader?