Sunday, April 29, 2007

Melbourne obliterates Capital

(The 2006 team photo. I know I couldn't find a more recent action photo - well there is one at the website but it's not the game I saw and I was going to take a picture but I got lazy)

Well not Capital as in the Washington Capitals, but as in the national capital of Australia... Canberra! (If you thought it was Sydney you might want to reconsider, just sayin'). Nonetheless Jordi is just a little jumpy (and I know I haven't write my Flames crushfest so justshutupshutup) because recently she finally attended a local team Melbourne Ice game that's only about 15 minutes from her home but she doesn't own a car so she never cared to show up - it's only reachable by bus or that so she was like "flip this all for a game of hockey". I was pressed for a short Journalism assignment (where you learn the dangers of leaving it till the last minute) that needed an interview so I dropped an email to the website and huzzah, I got my date, time, and interview.

I know you're free to skip this and you'd rather talk about playoffs but sheesh, I just wanted to share a bit of what hockey's like down under in the land of kangaroos and Eric Bana. I got to speak with the assistant manager and hockey mum, Val Webster whose son Lliam was the Assistant Captain and had played hockey in Finland for Vaasa Sport (yes that's an actual team) and she was very cool about it. The team itself boasts a goalie who plays for the national team (Stu Denman) and has a very good season record, having led the Aussie league last season and is currently unbeaten for 4 whole games (they did not win the finals, however). Additionally it's a self supported team which only lives off ticket sales and what it can get - so it is a bit of a bummer when she has the shell out the cost for the flights and accomodation for away games (yep, they fly - neat ain't it?).

Thoughts? Well I want to keep it short before I explode in a colourful display of how interesting it was and like, it was, cool, really, you know. But I know I won't anyway.
  • Fuck me if this was not the worst rink in the entire world. I can safely say this though to be fair it's a leisure rink and not made for ice sports like hockey. There's no glass, just netting and it's ridiculously easy to get hurt. The place itself looks like it could collapse - forget Edmonton, this place seriously needs a new rink. The ice is decent, and by decent I mean it's skatable for a bunch of kids. There was a new rink planned but they've never set a real date for it and after seeing it firsthand (like Angelina Jolie and starving African children), the new rink must be built lest anything bad happens. A hard hit can easily flip the player over the boards and luckily the teams aren't 200cm gladiators or else there will be no one skating on the ice anymore. Val had been telling me about the meagre ice rinks in Europe in teeny towns, but for a large city it's a bit sad that we have to consider ourselves lucky to have better ice in Melbourne than a tiny town.
  • There's something beautiful in watching an amateur league game. I mean it's ridiculously clumsy and there aren't any clean passes just a lot of banging and "OI!". There are some great players, though hitting hard has a different meaning in the land of crappy boards. The teams overall are very undisciplined team. And I don't mean this as in cheapshots because no one does that here since no one gets paid so why would you bother? However their feathers do get ruffled very easily and they do a little bit of face washing. Goalie running never happens because if it did, everyone would crack the shits and slap each other silly.
  • Great atmosphere in that sense, everyone goes "Ooooh!" or "Aaaah?" depending on whether people got hurt. A lot of diving goes on in this game, they just lie there till the play stops and then they hop over the other side of the ice to pop in and say hello to their family watching.
  • The final score was 4-1 to the Ice, the Canberra team weren't a particularly stellar team and failed to keep the puck effectively in the opposing area. Their goaltender was fairly good, doing a highlight reel save at one point - which is awesome really, it's things like this that make you glad that you made the trip. The Ice didn't backcheck very well but they had a great goaltender which did some nice things aka save their ass every now and then. However the Ice had more opportunities and probably about 3 breakaways. They as well at some points hovered on a trap like tactic that seemed like they were just watching the recent Ottawa vs New Jersey game. The best goal was the 3rd one which was a beautiful tape to tape one that is absolutely highlight material.
  • The team employs some import players who mainly come over for a holiday and some games - Val pointed out their Russian player Slava Kovshov who had hopped on the net and found the team. Additionally he spoke little to no English which was compensated by his girlfriend who did speak English. His play was rather good, I was quite impressed by what I saw and to see him take on a huge hit and continue like a trooper. The team is allowed 7 players on the roster and only 5 per game. This meant two surly kids were sitting watching. The other people scratched was one guy and Lliam who was coming off a jaw fracture and had surgery. He didn't have a mighty battlescar though and was to be out 6 weeks.
  • The game is mostly click clack scuffle stuff, however it got faster and more desperate in the third period when the score was only 2-1. The Canberra team was slowly gaining the upper hand over Melbourne in order to get a tie, however another goal by Melbourne (the beautiful one) seemed to fix all that.
  • The fans in the stands were aplenty. I seemed to spot a lot of expats, couples and whatnot. Val told me a lot of the interest was from expats who had travelled over to Australia for business or future. Many of the players were of that sort including the captain who is a teacher and wanted to continue playing hockey on the side. There was even a Leafs fan in a Sundin jersey which only goes to show that they really do get everywhere. Additionally, there was a bored little daughter who looked like she'd rather be anywhere else but the game which well, you know.
I think that wraps it up for Jordi's random world of silliness, currently she is getting her laptop replaced but will sneak online as soon as possible.


Tapeleg said...

Perhaps you would like to change the phrasing of that first bullet point, or I would be forced to post pictures of the rink I skated at in Jacksonville, FL. You wouldn't have much free time then.

Great post. I love hearing about hockey outside of the NHL, or the established leagues. Hockey is hockey, and great to watch no matter what.

Jordi said...

Meh, I stand by my point. Though I doubt there's any readers close enough to take up the offer - perverts not included.

Glad to hear you liked it, I had a hoot and am ready to attend the next game. Plus it's got me feeling a little patriotic :)

Sasky said...

I know what you mean. The boondall rink's not glass but it's not BAD it's definatley not falling apart they've got a bar. it's a nice enough venue not proper ice hockey ish but decent enough.

The blue tougnes are my team btu they dont' have a home game until.... like.. Two weeks? i think i'm away that weekend so i'm all sad. Brisbane have a SHITLOAD of sponsership so that's all paid for them accomodation and that.

I was at the airport one weekend i'd come down to see the bluetounges play and the sydney bears were going through the airport and i was waiting and i saw all this ice hockey gear and i looked at mum and I'm like MUM SYDNEY BEARS ARE HERE. and half this team turned and looked at me and i'm like *HIDE*

we drove out of the car park andmum wound down the window and yelled GO BLUETOUNGES out it. I tried to hide and this team all laughed at me!

I know the goalie for the northstars. He's awesomness,the other aussie goalie but stu barnes isn't bad.

I've actually played against a few of the blue tounges in inline games. That was nuts