The Australian Ice Hockey League has been going from strength to strength over the years since its inaugural year in 2000. Three teams started off the AIHL competition, Sydney Bears, Adelaide Avalanche (the now Adrenaline) and the Canberra Knights. So much has changed over the years including expansion teams, Sydney Ice Dogs, Melbourne Ice, Melbourne Mustangs, Perth Thunder and Newcastle North Stars. Gold Coast Blue Tongues were looking to come back for this season but have pulled out for the 2014 season.
One thing remains unchanging, the growth of the league. With the sadness and disappointment of earlier news this month that Canberra would be pulling out of the AIHL 2014 season, the players, the fans, and opposition teams all got behind the defunct club to pull together more than $27,000 in donations from local and international support. Reborn from the ashes are the CBR Brave, led by Captain Mark Rummukainen and Chairman Peter Chamberlain, the team has a provisional license to field and compete in this years league.
The fact that the community pulled together to rally behind the league and the Brave shows the unity and passion the fan base has for the game of Ice Hockey in Australia.
So what lays ahead for the AIHL in 2014? Start with the fact that FoxSports has thrown its support behind the league again for 2014, showing one game a week after the NHL on a Thursday. This helps the league reach a broader audience in Australia and bolster the sports awareness.
There’s the crowd attendance that supports the growth, in fact, it’s hard to even get into a Melbourne Ice/Melbourne Mustangs game as crowds gather early with lines longer than you could imagine for an “amateur” league.
One major factor that will help the AIHL grow further this season was the Sochi Winter Olympics. The constant coverage on TEN’s app channels and ONE showing the games was a huge score for fans and non-fans alike to watch and appreciate the games.
Team memberships and benefits, are a smart option for fans to support their local teams and get involved with helping inject some revenue into the AIHL to continue delivering hockey to the masses.
Game on Australian Ice Hockey fans. See you at the rink.