DBTB is going Down Under! We're following the Australian Ice Hockey League this summer!
What better way to kill the summer doldrums than with more hockey?
The summer months, especially for teams out of the playoffs, are usually filled with draft speculation, free agent wishes, and dreams of hockey coming back in October. Thanks to a campaign started by SB Nation blogs Stanley Cup of Chowder and Pension Plan Puppets, you don't need to wait that long - Die By The Blade will be joining them and picking a team to root for and follow this summer in the Australian Ice Hockey League!
Here's a primer on the game down under, courtesy of Wikipedia -
The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) is Australia's top-level ice hockey league. AIHL players are semi-professional. Typically this means that players are not paid to play in the AIHL, but receive other benefits such as the use of a car, accommodation, flights/travel within Australia, and other benefits. Often these benefits are supplied or funded by sponsors and vary from team to team.
The AIHL has attracted players up to and including NHL players. AIHL games are shorter than typical hockey games, consisting of two 15-minute periods and a 20-minute 3rd, instead of three 20-minute periods that are usually played under normal North American and IIHF hockey regulations.
The AIHL's points system, introduced in its present form in 2006, is similar to ice hockey leagues in Europe. 3 points are awarded for a win, and 0 points for a loss. Games that end in a tie go to a shootout, with the standings table displaying both shootout wins (SOW) and shootout losses (SOL). Shootout wins are worth 2 points, while shootout losses are worth 1 point. The shootout replaced an NHL-style five-minute overtime period which was used up to 2005.
The Goodall Cup is the annually awarded championship trophy, of the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL), to the winner of the AIHL finals. The trophy is named after Australian born player John Edwin Goodall and is believed to have been donated even earlier than the 1911 interstate finals. The cup is instantly recognisable by the distinct single gold band of plaques around the lower portion of the trophy.
The trophy has continued to be contested as the national senior men's ice hockey trophy in Australia, making it the fifth oldest known ice hockey trophy still being awarded, after the Stanley Cup (1892; NHL), the Queen's Cup (1903; Ontario University Championship Cup), the Boyle Cup (1904; Newfoundland High School Championship Cup), and the Allan Cup (1908; Canadian Senior Men's Amateur Championship Cup).
So now that's out of the way, here are the eight AIHL teams that contest for the Goodall Cup, where they're located, and the results of every Cup Final since 2000.
The Bruins blog has chosen the Melbourne Mustangs and Newcastle North Stars, while the Leafs look like they're going to go with the Perth Thunder. Which leaves us Sabres fans five other teams to decide from, which are the five non-italicized teams below - descriptions courtesy of Pension Plan Puppets.
History: The Adrenaline have been AIHL members since 2008, replacing the Adelaide Avalanche who folded mid-season. For the 2008 season the Adrenaline were known as The A's.
Record: Overall the A's have 77-29-20-78 record (W-SOW-SOL-L). They have also been awarded two points for ties due to cancelled matches. Last season they had a 11-3-3-11 season, finishing 5th overall.
Championships: Adelaide has won the Goodall cup once, in 2009. They defeated the Newcastle North Stars 3-2 in a shootout in the final. They have made the playoffs 4 out of 8 seasons, missing them the past 3 straight.
History: The Brave were founded in 2014, replacing the Canberra Knights, who were the Canberra team for 33 years. The Brave were founded on conditions from the AIHL, who thought it was necessary for growth of Australian hockey to have a presence in the Capital Territory.
Record: Overall the Brave have a 27-5-4-19 record with one tie. While the AIHL doesn't award ties, in 2014 Adelaide team was in a bus crash on their way to a game in Canberra, causing the match to be cancelled. Last season they had 13-3-2-10 record, finishing in 4th place.
Championships: The Brave have made the playoffs in both of their seasons, but have not gone past the semi-final stage.
History: The Ice entered the AIHL in 2002 and have been a force on and off the ice for the past 8 years. In their first four years they placed no higher than fifth and split time between two different ice rinks for a few seasons. In 2006 the team was reborn as a scoring powerhouse, placing first overall in the regular season and saw their attendance hit capacity in their small arena. When they moved to their current home their debut there was sold out and all following games have been sold out or close to.
Record: The Ice have a 178-25-28-108 record all time, with 1 tie awarded for a cancelled match. In their first 4 seasons the Ice won a total of 18 games, and have averaged 16 wins per season since then. Last season they had a 15-5-1-7 record, finishing 2nd overall.
Championships: The Ice were back-to-back-to-back Goodall Cup champions from 2010-2012, and have lost in the Grand Finals the past two seasons.
History: The Mustangs were founded in 2010 as Mustangs IHC. They played their first complete AIHL season in 2011. In 2012 they changed their name to Melbourne Mustangs, after a restriction was lifted that only allowed the Melbourne Ice to use the city name.
Record: The Mustangs have a 53-10-10-63 record all time. Last season they finished 11-3-2-12, 6th overall.
Championships: The Mustangs have only made the playoffs once in their five seasons. They finished first overall and won the Goodall Cup in 2014.
Newcastle North Stars:
History: One of the oldest team names in the AIHL, the original North Stars were founded in 1977, 23 years before the league itself. The North Stars would play in the "Super League" until the 1980's. The current Newcastle team would form in 2001 playing Senior B hockey. The North Stars would join the AIHL in 2002.
Record: The North Stars have a 187-25-25-84 record during their time in the AIHL. Last season they finished 28-19-0-4, good for 1st place overall.
Championships: Five-time Goodall Cup champions, they have won in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, and are the reigning champions having won in 2015.
History: The Thunder were an exhibition team in 2011 and became a full time AIHL member in 2012. They've had an uneventful history in their brief time so far in the AIHL.
Record: A 50-4-9-45 record over their lifetime so far for the Thunder. Last year they finished 14-1-4-9, for fourth overall, losing to Melbourne in the semi-finals.
Championships: The Thunder have not won any championships yet, and have not made it to the finals either.
History: The Bears were founded in 1982 as the Macquarie Bears. They changed their name to Sydney as the first national league was formed. Another name changed followed in 2007 after a split with a junior club and they were known as the AIHL Bears. This was returned back to Sydney for 2010. The lifetime members of the AIHL, the Bears don't have the trophy case to show for it, but have longevity and consistency going for them.
Record: Over their AIHL life the Bears have a 136-25-18-172 record. Last year they finished with an 11-1-2-14 record, placing seventh and missing the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
Championships: They have won the Goodall Cup twice, once in 2002 and once in 2007, which was their last finals appearance.
History: The IceDogs were part of the expansion in 2002 and have been a competitive club up until last season. They were known as the "West Sydney" IceDogs until 2009.
Record: Over the years the 'Dogs have compiled a 152-24-15-141 record. Last season the team was dead last with a 0-1-0-27 record, and were stripped of their three standings points because they were unable to field a full 15 man roster at times in the season.
Championships: The IceDogs have won the Goodall Cup twice, in 2004 and in 2013.
Take a look at the comments below as folks with rooting interests try to sell their teams before you vote!
So now this is up to you DBTB readers. Vote which team you would like DBTB to back as a group, and tell us why in the comments below, and let's head in to the summer with some hockey down under!