A surprising Ice Hockey tradition in the south | Olympic Outposts


Australia is a
sport loving nation. Rugby, cricket, Aussie rules
football dominate this country. Ice hockey is probably
the last thing you’d think you’d
see here, but they’ve been playing it
for over 100 years and actually have one
of the oldest hockey federations in the world. Even after all that time, it’s
a long way from being relevant. So I’ve came here to see
Australian hockey players with very few rinks in the
country, limited resources, strive to perform
their best down under. My name is Paul Bissonette. Some of you may
know me as BizNasty. I played 12 years of
pro hockey, and even after all that time on the ice, I never
thought I’d end up in Melbourne to see how ice
hockey is advancing Australia. But here I am. And now that I’m here,
I’m going to find out what’s driving these
players on the ice, and why they’re choosing
to play ice hockey. There’s a group of junior
players about the scrimmage this afternoon. I figure, what better
way to start than there? Let’s go check it out. What’s up, boys? So what’s it like playing
hockey in Australia? We don’t get much ice time
or anything like that. And the ice is terrible. How many hours a
week you on the ice? About three or four sometimes. First of all,
where are you from? -Brisbane.
-OK. Brisbane. -How many rinks there?
-Just two. So you got to come here to
get some good training, and– Yeah. I’m looking forward to
seeing your skills out there. So this player
who passes it, you got to get ready and get
another puck on your tape. Don’t pass the puck, and then
look at it and think it’s over. Nice call, nice call. Yeah! Oh! Nice, boys! I’m really interested to see
where their hockey minds are at when they start playing
and get in the game situation. How long you been
playing hockey? Five, six years. What made you fall
in love with it? Uh, the speed. I like the intensive feeling. And in Australia, you don’t
really improve as much, but it’s because you don’t
get as much ice time. Do you find the teaching and
the ice time and the resources are getting better though? Yeah. They are getting better
because more people are playing hockey in Australia. So that means more coaches,
more parents want to help out. It just makes the
hockey even better. How long have you been playing? Eight, Nine years. That was in-line
hockey because I lived in Bendigo, which is
two hours away from any rinks. So how often do you
get to get on ice? Three times a week now. So you’re commuting two
hours just to skate? -Yeah.
-Oh, man. You said you’re from Canada. And just to come over here
and help these kids develop, it’s probably pretty cool. It’s so cool to see the
passion that people have here. It’s like a tight
knit community. They put in the time.
They just want it. How much change have you
seen in the type of resources that are being offered
to these kids now, than maybe five years ago? All the volunteers who
have come down and volunteered their time have been able to
learn off the coaches how to teach the kids
correctly. So the kids want to learn,
you put the effort in, and the progression
they can get, it’s huge. All right. So yesterday, we
got a chance to see how these young players
in Australia train. Now today, I’m going to
get my first ever taste of the AIHL action,
the Melbourne Mustang against the Melbourne Ice. One of the biggest
rivalries in Australia is going to kick off
today, and I heard things are going to get chippy. And I’m excited to watch it. What’s up, boys?
How are you? -Well why the bad blood?
-I don’t know. These boys just encourage
me to do it all game, and we don’t really
like the ice, so– They won the championship
last year, didn’t they? Is that one reason you
want to set the tone early, -for the season?
-Yeah. I think so. I think there’s no
better way than do it. Get the boys going as well. A little bitter that you
guys took that championship last year? It’s always pretty
emotional with us and them because they don’t like
us, and we don’t like them. And then down the
hall, we share a rink. It’s always on. What’s the consensus
on the team this year? You guys supposed
to be pretty good? We’ve got a good core
group of Australian players that have played for
a fair few years. I wanted to ask you guys
how much the league’s grown since you guys have known it,
since it’s came over you guys are selling out games here. When we started we was
pretty well unknown. So I was quite young. It’s grown huge. It’s definitely
a good following. A lot of really good
supporters as well. When Melbourne play Melbourne,
the stadium packs out, and all along the border, it’s
three or four people deep. It’s a really good atmosphere. Get the legs going, boys. Got to get the legs moving. Talk about the grind of
this league in general. I think the biggest
thing is just that it is an amateur league still. So we’ve got guys from pretty
much all over the world, but you come here for
the love of the game rather than playing for
money, and that’s pretty much what it is. I’m here with Andy Lamrock,
the CEO and co-owner of the Melbourne Ice. And here, we have the third
oldest ice hockey trophy in the world. Everyone that’s ever
played and won in it, it’s got their name on it.
She’s a beauty. For a nation that’s had hockey
established for that long, you guys are ranked
33rd in the world. Hockey in Australia has
always been at a level based on availability of ice. So we’re not like
Canada, where there’ ten ice rinks in 5 square miles. There’s ten ice
rinks in Australia. You’re one of two
teams in Melbourne. Talk about that
rivalry, what it does to grow the game in Melbourne,
as well as the whole league. In our building here, we
have two Melbourne teams, and the Mustangs are
great organization. We have a lot of
respect for them. But when it’s on the ice, you
know what a rivalry is, right? It’s local talent
versus local talent. It’s real bragging rights. When we get on the ice,
it’s just another level. The chirping starts,
and fans love that. I’m actually surprised they
played two 15 minute periods in the first and second, and
then last period is 20 minutes. It’s supposed to be a friendly. This is an exhibition game,
but there’s some bad blood between these two teams. Oh, he’s chucked his helmet. The Mustangs have
drew first blood here. I’m actually quite impressed
with the level of play so far. Oh, wow. That guy tried to
murder that other guy. I’d say the biggest difference
so far, structurally, the hockey sense isn’t there. You see plays break down a lot. One of the positives to
seeing a lot of breakdowns, though, is that the games
are more entertaining. If you had the opportunity
to play for one team, who would you guys play for? -Melbourne Ice.
-Melbourne Ice. A couple basic things
I noticed, Olympic-size ice, obviously. A lot more ice out there
than North America. These guys really
hate each other. Things are picking up here. The Melbourne Ice
have have done it. Hey, guys. We’ve reached the
end of our trip. I had an unbelievable
experience in Australia, not only taking in
the culture, but how they’re advancing the
sport of ice hockey here, how there’s
more rinks coming, the development’s getting
better, coaches coming over to volunteer their time. It was cool to see how
they’re progressing the young kids in development. Although they’re only 33rd
in the world right now, I think they’re definitely
doing a great job. And it seems as if though,
ice hockey is really going to advance here. And I can’t wait to see
where they go from here.

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