Saturday, it was the Sydney Ice Dogs taking out the Melbourne Ice 4-2 to go to Sunday's final. They were joined by the Newcastle North Stars, who blasted Perth 6-1. Today's final was a 6-3 win for Sydney, with Simon Barg's two goals seconds apart offsetting the hat for NC's Dominc Osmun. It was the second championship for the Dogs, and the fourth time they have met Newcastle in the final. They won 3-1 in 2004, but lost 4-1 in both 2003 and 2008. The North Stars had been looking for a 5th title.
But while I was looking around, I discovered three things. The first is something called the European Trophy. This is an international tourney featuring teams from several of the top leagues. They play an 8-game "regular season" in August and September (which ended today) and a 6 team "Cup final" in December. It is a 32-team affair, including 7 teams from Finland's S-M Liiga (Karpat, KalPa, JYP Jyvaskyla, TPS Turku, Tappara, HIFK, and Jokerit) and the Czech Extraliga (Kometa Brno, Montfield Ceske Budejovice, Plzen, Sparta Prague, Pirati Chomutov, Tygri Liberec, and Pardubice), 6 from the Swedish SHL (Lulea, Linkopings, HV71, Djurgardens, Brynas, Frolunda), 4 from the German DEL (Eisbaren Berlin, Hamburg Freezers, Adler Mannheim, and ERG Ingolstadt), 3 from the Swiss NLA (SC Bern, ZSC Lions, and EV Zug), 2 from Austria's EBEL (Red Bull Salzburg, Vienna Capitals), and one from the KHL (Slovan Bratislava).
As I noted, today ended that first round. Three SHL teams won divisions- Lulea (the defending champs of the European Trophy) won the north at 6-1-1; Djurgardens won the east at 5-1-2; and Farjestad won the west at 7-1-0. JYP of Finland won the south division at 6-1-1. Those four go to the six-team finals, as will the finals' host club, Eisbaren Berlin (despite a 3-4-1 record in the "season".) As I understand the tie-breaker, Sweden's Frolunda (5-1-2) won the wild card spot into the finals, December 19-22. I'll have to follow how they do in their respective seasons as we go.
In the meantime, five of the leagues we follow have kicked off their seasons. The KHL started on the 4th, and defending champs Dynamo Moscow have already rolled to 3 straight wins. The two new teams won their openers- Medvescak Zagreb blew out CSKA 7-1 in theirs (though they fell to Riga 5-1 today), and Admiral Vladivostok edged Amur 4-3 in a shootout opener. Unfortunately, my beloved Loko has lost to Avangard 5-2 and Yugra 2-1 for an 0-2 start. Obviously, we will follow Lokomotiv in the KHL.
The Asia League opened with one new team- Sang Mu, operated by the South Korean Army out of Seoul. While it's tempting to follow the disastrous play of China Dragon here (they've already lost a pair of 8-1 decisions to High1), I think we'll follow the Tohoku Free Blades, out of Hachinohe, Japan.
Austria's EBEL opened this weekend as well, and I have always followed VSV (officially known by the sponsor's name, "Reckord-Fenster VSV Villacher"), out of the town of Villach. They opened with a 6-3 win over Dornbirn, a team moved up to help replace Zagreb who moved to the KHL.
The final league already underway is in Belarus, although it seems that it might be a waste of time to follow anyone but Yunost Minsk. They've already posted 10- and 9-0 wins this weekend. Nevertheless, we're going with the team from the small town on the Polish border called Lida.
Lida has an OT win and a loss to star the season.
The first of the rest of the leagues will start Tuesday, and I figure I'll introduce the teams we'll follow as the seasons open. Then I'll update once a week when I'm already boring you with the fantasy football update on Tuesdays.
Two other notes. One of the missing Ouellette brothers who abandoned Adelaide mid-season has surfaced. Travis Ouellette has signed with Bakersfield of the ECHL- which the hometown Ft. Wayne Komets play in. Maybe I'll get a chance to ask him myself what happened. In the meantime, Michael Forney, who jumped Perth a week or so later while leading the league in scoring, is ironically enough on my Austrian VSV team for this year.
The other note is, I don't know what the H is going on with the Polish League. Neither the flash-site I use for scores or the league's own website has any new information (other than a cryptic line that the new season is just a couple weeks away. International Hockey Forums hints that there is an ongoing battle between league management, who set a new league constitution during the offseason, and the top five teams, who refuse to play under the rules as they are. So there may be no season, or a season of scrub teams, or maybe they'll all kiss and make up. You'll hear it here first.