The sport is rough, tough, and ultra fast. It is no holds barred if the players want to get in on a piece of the action.
If you want competitiveness, look no further than Australian Ice Hockey League club the Melbourne Mustangs. Entering the Australian Ice Hockey League in 2011, the Mustangs have gone from strength to strength in a sport that is still relatively young in Australia.
To fit the club colours, the Mustangs use slogans such as “bleed orange” and “believe orange” as social media hashtags during games. The impact the Mustangs are making in both the Melbourne and Australian sport and ice hockey community continues to grow. Add to that the ferocity and talent of the playing list, and what you get is a very marketable product.
I experienced my first ice hockey game live when the Sydney Ice Dogs came down to Melbourne to play the Mustangs on the 18th of August, 2013. Having watched the National Hockey League (American league) Stanley Cup finals I knew just how aggressive the players could be, but seeing it up close I was blown away by the sheer pace of the game.
Home for the Mustangs is the Medibank Icehouse in Docklands. Not only are the Mustangs fans very loud, they are also very passionate. During the game with the Ice Dogs, first-timers, regulars and anyone in orange got right behind the side as they valiantly fought against strong Sydney opposition. The final score went the way of the Ice Dogs, 3-1. But it certainly did not stop the Mustangs from playing an exciting brand of ice hockey.
Sitting with the Mustangs media crew, I watched on in fascination as the puck flew at phenomenal speeds across the field. What was most impressive was the intensity never faded despite the scoreline, and the Mustangs continued to excite fans with some spectacular saves and blistering runs at goal.
Mustangs head coach Brad Vigon said post game that the Mustangs matched up against the Ice Dogs better than earlier in the season, when the team was just starting to gel.
“I came into this game relatively confident, and unfortunately we didn’t get up. Defensively I thought they (Ice Dogs) were good…that kind of puts you back on your heels a little bit.”
The Mustangs may be babies in the AIHL, but the club continues to jump over the obstacles in its path as they further establish a name for themselves in the Australian ice hockey scene. Finishing fifth in 2013, it was simply a late season fade that saw the Mustangs pipped for a finals berth. Bigger and better things are to come.