I learned many things about Australian hockey yesterday. For example, they only play the weekends; they just got a brand new TV deal for a game of the week on Saturdays; they play a 50-minute game rather than sixty; the individual players are sponsored (for the most part); and the league website had the devil's own time getting the scores of games up, with the stats to the last game Saturday morning (my time) not going up till Sunday morning (my time). Also, they only gave attendance for half the games (or else nobody showed up at 2 of them).
First, let me set the stage. This is an 8-team league with two divisions. One features two teams from Sydney- the Ice Dogs and the Bears- along with Newcastle's North Stars and Canberra's Knights. The other features two teams from Melbourne- the Ice and the Mustangs- along with Adelaide's Adrenaline and Perth's Thunder, a team almost 1,700 miles from the nearest other team (roughly the distance from NYC to Rapid City, South Dakota. Thus, they only play on weekends they can get two games in- and did not play this week.
Saturday, there were three games. The battle of Melbourne began with the Ice blasting the Mustangs 7-2 Behind 4th-year man Matt Armstrong, who tallied 2 goals and 4 assists. Like most of the players who actually accomplished something noteworthy, Matt was a Canadian expat. Newcastle took down the Ice Dogs 6-2 behind a hat trick and an assist by Jeff Martens, a guy who's bounced around the CHL and just got back from playing the winter season in Friesland of the Dutch League. Rounding out the first slate, Canberra topped Adelaide 3-2 despite Britt Ouellette scoring twice in the last 2:44 of the game. The Adrenaline had finally hit after falling behind with a 21-shot third period which was for the most part held off by Knight goalie Chris Slauenwhite, who was the backup on the Bears last year.
Sunday the Adrenaline picked up where they left off, blasting the Bears 9-2 (giving Sydney an 0-for-the weekend. Britt again struck, as did his brother Travis. Britt had 2 goals (one of four on the team) and 2 assists for 4 points (also one of four), while Travis, fresh from Ferris State University (Britt and little brother Chad went to Dartmouth) had a goal and 3 assists, to give the family an 11 point weekend (Travis had an assist in Saturday's game as well).
Elsewhere, Sonderjyske got a goal from defenseman Tyler Gotto 16 minutes into OT to give SonderjyskE the Danish title with a 1-0 win Friday. SonderjyskE is a multi-sport umbrella group who runs the team out of tiny Vojens (pop. 7,600) since 2004. They've won 4 titles now with SonderjyskE, and 3 more before that.
In games yet to play today, Zlin and Plzen face off for the Czech Extraliga title in game seven. Yesterday, Assat downed Tappara 4-0 to tie the Finland finals at 2 games apiece. And as I type, Julian Talbot (whose brother Joe was a star in the UK's Sheffield Steelers before retiring this year after 130 goals there in 4 seasons) has scored twice to give Eisbaren Berlin a 4-1 lead on Kolner in game 4 of the German finals with about 8 minutes left.