Australian Ice Hockey League
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2011)|
|Current season, competition or edition:
2015 AIHL season
|No. of teams||8|
|Most recent champion(s)||Melbourne Mustangs (1st title)|
|Most titles||Newcastle North Stars (3 titles)
Melbourne Ice (3 titles)
|TV partner(s)||Fox Sports (Highlights)|
The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) is Australia's top-level ice hockey league. It is sanctioned by Ice Hockey Australia (a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation) and it is run by its own Board of Directors. 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 Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) was formed in 2000 following the collapse of the former national league. In its first season, the AIHL comprised three teams - the Adelaide Avalanche, Canberra Knights, and the Sydney Bears. During the first two seasons the teams competed in round-robin weekends over the length of the season, with the two top teams playing a single final. Adelaide Avalanche finished first in both years after the regular season, with the Sydney Bears winning the Goodall Cup in the 2001 playoffs. In 2002 the AIHL expanded to six teams with the inclusion of the Melbourne Ice, Newcastle North Stars and the West Sydney Ice Dogs. The Sydney Bears finished first in the regular season standings and won the Goodall Cup playoffs. At the start of the 2003 AIHL season it was announced that the finals playoff would be expanded to include the top four finishing teams after the regular season. Newcastle North Stars won their first regular season and their first Goodall Cup. The following season the West Sydney Ice Dogs won their first Goodall Cup after defeating the Newcastle North Stars in the final. In 2005 the AIHL expanded to eight teams with the Central Coast Rhinos and the Brisbane Blue Tongues joining the league. During the 2005 season the Avalanche signed former National Hockey League (NHL) player Steve McKenna who played over 350 games in the NHL while the North Stars won their second Goodall Cup. In 2006 the Brisbane Blue Tongues signed Canadian Rob Zamuner who had played nearly 800 games in the NHL. The North Stars went on to win their second consecutive Goodall Cup title, defeating Adelaide for the second year in a row.
The 2007 AIHL season opened with the Avalanche and the Blue Tongues announcing the signing of former NHL players Mel Angelstad and Tyrone Garner respectively. The Bears won the 2007 Goodall Cup, their first since 2002, after defeating the North Stars in the final. Starting the 2008 season the Brisbane Blue Tongues announced their relocation to the Gold Coast to become the Gold Coast Blue Tongues as well as the signing of former Tampa Bay Lightning player Gaetan Royer. During the season the Adelaide Avalanche folded due to financial problems. Following the withdrawal of the Avalanche a new team was formed, the Adelaide Adrenaline. Newcastle North Stars went on to win the 2008 Goodall Cup, defeating West Sydney Ice Dogs in the final. In 2009 and the Central Coast Rhinos left the league after refusing to accept the AIHL's new licensing model and went on to join the newly formed Australian International Ice Hockey Cup. 2009 also saw the Goodall Cup withdrawn from the AIHL by Ice Hockey Australia so it could return to being a state contested tournament. It was replaced by the H. Newman Reid Trophy which was won by the Adrenaline. The following season Ice Hockey Australia returned the Goodall Cup to the AIHL with the H. Newman Reid Trophy being consigned to be the prize for the winner of the regular season. Melbourne Ice won their first Goodall Cup, defeating the Adrenaline in the final 6–4. In 2011 the league returned to an eight team competition with the inclusion of the Melbourne based Mustangs IHC. The AIHL also granted a ninth team, the Perth Thunder, a provisional license to play exhibition games during the 2011 season and potentially securing a vote to join the league in 2012.
In August 2011 the AIHL and the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) announced the formation of the Trans-Tasman Champions League. The Trans-Tasman Champions League will begin in 2012 and will be hosted in Australia, with the series shifting to New Zealand in 2013. The series will feature two teams from each the AIHL and the NZIHL each playing the others once with the winner being the team who finishes first in the round-robin standings. The two teams chosen from each league will be the regular season champions and the winner of the playoff. In a situation where the winning of both events is the same the runner up of the playoff final will be selected to represent their respective league. Melbourne Ice won both the H. Newman Reid Trophy and the Goodall Cup after finishing first in the 2011 regular season standings and winning the playoffs after defeating the Newcastle North Stars in the final. In November 2011 following the annual general meeting it was announced that Perth Thunder had been accepted as a full member of the league expanding the competition to nine teams for 2012. It was also announced that from 2012 the league would be split into two conferences in order to manage costs and length of the season. The two conferences where named the Bauer Conference and Easton Conference after the AIHL signed a three year deal with the Skaters Network who is the distributor of the ice hockey brands Bauer Hockey and Easton. The Bauer Conference will consist of the Canberra Knights, Newcastle North Stars, Sydney Bears, and the Sydney Ice Dogs, while the Easton Conference includes the Adelaide Adrenaline, Gold Coast Blue Tongues, Melbourne Ice, Mustangs IHC and the Perth Thunder. Following the announcement of the conference system a change in the finals playoff structure was also announced. The winners of each conference at the end of the regular season would play in a semi-final against the runner-up of the opposing conference with the winners of the semi-finals progressing to the Goodall Cup final. Prior to the start of the 2012 season the AIHL also announced a one year partnership with Virgin Australia in which the airline would become the leagues preferred supplier for the 2012 season. The 2012 regular season was won by the Newcastle North Stars after they finished one point ahead of the Melbourne Ice. The Melbourne Ice went on to win the Goodall Cup playoffs for the third year in a row after they defeated the North Stars in the final.
Prior to the start of the 2013 season it was announced that they Gold Coast Blue Tongues license had been suspended due to the team being unable to secure a home venue for 2013. It was also announced that the league had entered into a deal with Fox Sports which involved airing one game a week during the season. The 2013 regular season was won by the Sydney Ice Dogs who also went on to win the 2013 Goodall Cup, breaking Melbourne Ice's three year streak. It was the Ice Dogs first regular season title and their first Goodall Cup since 2004. In February 2014 it was announced that Canberra Knights had folded operations and would not be competing in the 2014 season. Club owner John Raut cited financial costs, lack of local players and poor performance as the reasons behind the move. The following day it was announced that the player group headed by captain Mark Rummukainen had approached the league with plans on taking on the clubs license. The following month the league announced that they had granted a provisional license to a Canberra consortium, which involved the player group, to take on the license and replace the Knights in the 2014 season. The new team was announced as the CBR Brave. The Melbourne Mustangs went on to win their first 2014 regular season title and Goodall Cup, defeating the Melbourne Ice in the playoffs final. The Brave, in their debut season, finished the regular season in third and but were knocked out in the semifinals by the Ice. In December 2014 the Central Coast Rhinos applied to re-enter the league at the 2014 Annual General Meeting however their applicated was rejected for undisclosed reasons. Also during the off-season it was announced that the Gold Coast Blue Tongues license had expired, two years after they were suspended due to being unable to secure a home venue.
|Adelaide Adrenaline||Thebarton, South Australia||Ice ArenA||2008||Adelaide A's (2008)|
|CBR Brave||Phillip, Australian Capital Territory||Phillip Swimming & Ice Skating Centre||2014|
|Melbourne Ice||Docklands, Victoria||Medibank Icehouse||2002|
|Melbourne Mustangs||Docklands, Victoria||Medibank Icehouse||2010||2011||Mustangs IHC (2010–2012)|
|Newcastle North Stars||Warners Bay, New South Wales||Hunter Ice Skating Stadium||1981||2002|
|Perth Thunder||Perth, Western Australia||Perth Ice Arena||2010||2012|
|Sydney Bears||Jamisontown, New South Wales||Penrith Ice Palace||1982||2000||AIHL Bears (2007–2009)|
|Sydney Ice Dogs||Liverpool, New South Wales||Liverpool Catholic Club Ice Rink||2002||West Sydney Ice Dogs (2002–2009)|
- Adelaide Avalanche (2000–2008; suspended operations in June 2008)
- Canberra Knights (2000–2013; suspended operation in February 2014)
- Central Coast Rhinos (2005–2008; declined to sign licence for 2009)
- Gold Coast Blue Tongues (2005–2014; license expired in 2014 following it being suspended in 2012. Formally known as the Brisbane Blue Tongues)
The AIHL season commences mid April and runs through to the last weekend of August or the first weekend of September. Games are usually played on Saturday or Sunday, typically between 3.30pm and 5.45pm depending on the venue.
Teams nominally play each of their seven opponents in the league four times for a total of 28 regular season games. In previous seasons, some games were played for double-points (and count as two games) to keep travel costs down. There are no double-point games in 2011.
Overtime and points system
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.
For the 2000 season, the AIHL champion was the team that finished first in the standings at the end of the regular season. The AIHL introduced a championship game in 2001. In 2002 the Goodall Cup was awarded to the winner of the championship game for the first time; in previous seasons, the Goodall Cup had been held as a separate tournament. In 2003, the playoffs expanded to four teams (1 v 4, 2 v 3). The semi-finals and final remain single-game series, with all three games played at the same venue in one weekend; the 2006 AIHL playoffs were held in Adelaide. The AIHL has not announced any plans to expand the playoffs to multiple-game series.
Playoff finals have been held in the following locations:
- 2001: Adelaide - Thebarton Snowdome (now the Adelaide Ice ArenA)
- 2002: Sydney - Blacktown Ice Arena
- 2003: Sydney - Glaciarium (now the Sydney Ice Arena)
- 2004: Central Coast, NSW - Erina Ice World (now Erina Ice Arena)
- 2005: Newcastle - Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Warners Bay
- 2006: Adelaide - Adelaide Ice ArenA, Thebarton
- 2007: Sydney - Penrith Ice Palace, Penrith
- 2008: Newcastle - Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Warners Bay
- 2009: Newcastle - Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Warners Bay
- 2010: Melbourne - Icehouse, Docklands
- 2011: Melbourne - Icehouse, Docklands
- 2012: Newcastle - Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, Warners Bay
- 2013: Melbourne - Icehouse, Docklands
Finals weekends will follow the format of semi finals on Saturday, 1v4 and 2v3 placed teams, followed by the two semi final winning teams playing for the Goodall Cup and the AIHL Championship on Sunday evening.
- 2000: Adelaide Avalanche (first in standings)
- 2001: Adelaide Avalanche (def. Sydney Bears in final)
- 2002: Sydney Bears (def. Adelaide Avalanche in final)
- 2003: Newcastle North Stars (def. West Sydney Ice Dogs in final) 4-1
- 2004: West Sydney Ice Dogs (def. Newcastle North Stars in final) 3-1
- 2005: Newcastle North Stars (def. Adelaide Avalanche in final) 3-1
- 2006: Newcastle North Stars (def. Adelaide Avalanche in final) 4-0
- 2007: Bears (formerly Sydney Bears) (def. Newcastle North Stars in final during Overtime) 4-3
- 2008: Newcastle North Stars (def. West Sydney Ice Dogs in final) 4-1
- 2009: Adelaide Adrenaline (def. Newcastle North Stars in final during Overtime) 3-2
- 2010: Melbourne Ice (def. Adelaide Adrenaline in final) 6-4
- 2011: Melbourne Ice (def. Newcastle North Stars in final) 3-2
- 2012: Melbourne Ice (def. Newcastle North Stars in final) 4-3
- 2013: Sydney Ice Dogs (def. Newcastle North Stars in final) 6-3
- 2014: Melbourne Mustangs (def. Melbourne Ice in final) 6-1
Trophies and awards
- Goodall Cup
The champions of the AIHL are awarded the Goodall Cup, a perpetual national trophy third in age only to the Stanley Cup (1892) and the Allan Cup (1908).The Goodall Cup was incorporated into the AIHL in 2002 after the league expanded to 6 teams. The Goodall Cup is awarded to the team that wins the Finals series/playoffs weekend at the end of each season. The team that holds the Goodall Cup is considered to be the Australian champion.
The Goodall Cup was withdrawn from the AIHL in 2009 by the cup's custodians, Ice Hockey Australia. The Goodall Cup was instead awarded to South Australia in a traditional state vs state tournament held in Adelaide, South Australia in October 2009 as a 100 year celebration of the Goodall Cup.
In 2010 the Goodall Cup was offered back to the AIHL, and the cup accepted by a vote of the members and board. The Goodall Cup has been re-instated by the AIHL as its finals tournament trophy and as the prize signifying Australian champions of ice hockey.
Like in the case of the Stanley Cup, the original Goodall Cup is considered too delicate to travel and a replica is now awarded to the league champion team. Currently the replica cup is kept at Melbourne's Icehouse, in Docklands and on display.
- AIHL Champions Trophy
In 2009 Ice Hockey Australia withdrew the Goodall Cup from the AIHL, claiming it was instead to presented to the winning team from IHA's own tournament to be run in South Australia, celebrating the Cup's 100th anniversary since it was first awarded in a game between NSW and Victoria in 1909. Without a major trophy to present to its finals winning team, the AIHL designed and had manufactured its own unique trophy.
The new AIHL Champions Trophy was awarded to the 2009 AIHL Champions, the Adelaide Adrenaline following their victory in the 2009 final.
In 2010 the AIHL Champions Trophy was re-launched as the H Newman Reid Trophy, honouring the minor premiers from each season back to 2007.
- H Newman Reid Trophy
The H Newman Reid Trophy is awarded to the regular season's minor premiers; that is, the team that finishes first overall in the standings. Reid is considered the father of ice hockey in Australia, opening Australia's first two ice rinks and employing key people who introduced Australians, including his own children, to winter sports.
The H Newman Reid Trophy was first awarded in 2010 to the Newcastle North Stars after they finished first in the regular season with 54 points.
The Reid Trophy is backdated to 2007 including minor premiers the Adelaide Avalanche (2007), Sydney Bears (2008), and the Newcastle North Stars (2009 & 2010).
- V.I.P. Cup
The V.I.P. Cup was awarded to the minor premiers of each season; that is, the team that finishes first overall in the standings at the end of the regular season. The VIP cup was last awarded to the Adelaide Avalanche in 2007. The VIP Cup was not returned to the league and has been replaced by the H Newman Reid Trophy.
- Wilson Cup
The Wilson Cup is awarded to the winner of the AIHL pre-season competition, which began in 2007 and ran again in 2008 and 2009. No Wilson Cup was run in 2010 or 2011.
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