I know what you’re thinking. Why are things so quiet around here? The AIHL finals were last weekend! The highlight of the season! And the Melbourne Ice won! After three of the best games of the season and seeing their team win the Goodall Cup, don’t Jane and Chelsea have anything to say about it?
Image from AIHL Facebook, caption by Texts From Last Period.
Well, we have plenty to say about the finals, don’t you worry – we just have to get over our sleep deprivation/hangovers first, and remember how to say things other than “MELBOURNE ICE ARE THE BEST! WOOOOOOOO!” (I’m still not sure my hands are back to 100% of their usual function after the way Jane was squeezing them during the last thirty seconds of the grand final.) For now, let’s just say that this weekend was a blast. We had a fantastic time in Newcastle, meeting people who until now we’d only known via email, comments sections and Twitter. We loved the hospitality and infinite patience of the staff at Warners At The Bay motel, who survived a weekend of guests prone to 24-hour partying and the occasional nude run. We saw some of the best hockey games of the year. And of course, we saw the Melbourne Ice make history by winning their third straight championship, their first ever on the road.
We screamed. We cheered. We just about died from the tension at the end of Sunday’s game. When I called my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day and apologise for missing it, I was both hoarse and too happy to sound very sorry. Fortunately my dad didn’t want much from me to make it up to him.
(The next day, I got my hair cut for the first time since the Melbourne Ice jersey presentation night on April 26. I may have grumbled when a certain friend told me it would be bad luck to ‘mess with the flow’ mid-season, but hey, it worked!)
Thank you to the Melbourne Ice for an amazing season, a killer grand final, and for making us feel like part of the family. We’ll have a full report on the weekend’s three spectacular games in time. But tonight, we’re just going to go down to the Harbourtown Hotel for one last chance to celebrate the end of this season with the best team in the world. GO ICE!
While the AIHL is gearing up for the finals, it’s been a quiet week here at River Road Hockey. Partly because of the unfortunate fact that Jane and I both have jobs which sometimes leave us little time to do anything during the week. But it’s also because while the rest of the AIHL were throwing themselves into the last week of the regular season with aplomb, last weekend was one of those rare weeks when there was no AIHL hockey in Melbourne.
When you live in Melbourne, Perth’s a long way to go for a couple of ice hockey games. It’s not the only reason I went there, and it’s not the only thing I did in the four days that Jane and I were there, but for hockey nuts like us it was the main attraction. For all that the Perth Ice Arena is small, remote and low-tech compared to the surrounds I’m used to at the Docklands, it has character. Spades of it. Melbourne’s my town and the Ice are my team, but as soon as the puck dropped at Malaga, I couldn’t stop thinking about how being a Thunder fan would be so much fun. It might not be the only reason I went to Perth, but there are a whole lot of reasons I’m going back next year and (almost) all of them are hockey.
Watching talented people being talented is fun. So is watching talented people fall over.
It’s always easy to start a conversation with an Australian hockey fan; all you need to ask is “How did you get into hockey?” (And I love how many answers involve The Mighty Ducks.) My answer to that question now has two parts. I saw my first game of ice hockey when I was on exchange in Germany in 2003, and loved it instantly, but it’s a love that faded when I came back to Melbourne and didn’t know any other fans. Until the first week of January this year, when I was reeling from an unexpected breakup, lonely and just not really sure what to do with my time, and a friend invited me out to lunch with her friend Jane, who mentioned how much she liked ice hockey. I harangued her with questions about it over lunch, she invited me back to her place to watch an NHL game, and if you read this blog, I think you can guess how that turned out.
Both these stories were on my mind on Sunday afternoon, when I pulled on some ice skates for the first time since 2005 for the Melbourne Ice skate-with-the-players session. My performance was pretty embarrassing, but it was also the highlight of my weekend, and it would be remiss of me not to credit the event’s overall awesomeness along with my own amusing failures. Those who were there may recognise a few of these, as yes, I was that short girl in the Chicago Blackhawks T-shirt who kept falling over. And crashed into Doug Wilson Jr. Twice.
With a Melbourne derby on the fixture this weekend, of course Jane and I, along with our guest from Perth, made the now-familiar trip down to the Docklands on Saturday afternoon. It was a thrilling afternoon out, as games against the Mustangs always are, and we’ll have a full game report up later this week. (We’d probably best not discuss the post-game shenanigans, even though those memories will last long after the details of the game are forgotten.)
On Sunday, though, we decided to break our usual routine and skip the Icehouse in favour of an afternoon footy match at the MCG. Even though none of our preferred teams were playing, it seemed like a good idea all around. Jo was new to the game of football; Jane, though a lifelong St Kilda supporter, had never been to a game; and I always love a trip to the ‘G, even when the Bombers aren’t playing. Besides, no matter how much affection I feel for the Mustangs, none of us really felt like watching them get thrashed by the North Stars.
The inaugural Trans-Tasman Champions League tournament was a hell of a weekend. It was a great experience for me, as a fan of the sport and as a fan of the Melbourne Ice. And like any new experience, or any new, unprecedented event, there were lessons to be learned as well. This is a varied list of things the weekend taught me about the great sport of ice hockey, factors that affect the running of an event like this and the experience of being a hockey fan.
So, this happened:
OH YEAH. THAT WOULD BE MY TEAM THAT WON THE TRANS TASMAN CHAMPIONSHIP LEAGUE. AND THAT IS THE TRANS TASMAN CUP, FULL OF FROSTY BEVERAGE AND SITTING ON THE BAR OF THE HARBOURTOWN HOTEL.
I LOVE THIS TEAM. AND EVERYBODY IN THIS BAR.
More to come when I am sober.