Last year, the Melbourne Mustangs missed out on finals only at the final hurdle – but the 5th place finished always said bigger and better things were to come.
Ice hockey is still a growing sport in Melbourne, but each year it does so more rapidly. Major sponsor and now naming rights partner for the team MOAT has done such a fantastic job over the last six months in revamping the “baby club”. When the orange men take the ice at Docklands on April 13, the fans will be waiting.
One very important player – and quite the favourite with supporters – is American import Pat O’Kane. He’s 25 in May, and last season proved to be of major importance to the Mustangs. Knocking in 30 goals in 28 games stamped his authority as a striker, and the Mustangs almost made finals in 2013.
That run last year will get fans excited. Garnering the attention of sports-mad Melbourne with a sport played more overseas than Australia is not easy, but the Mustangs are making inroads by targeting families and a youth demographic.
O’Kane comes back into a side raring to go in 2014; and last year indicated that the core of the Mustangs side – which included plenty of youth – was a critical factor in driving up the team culture and love for the game.
Long time sponsors of the Mustangs, MOAT Health Services, are the naming right sponsors for 2014-2015. Not only involved with the senior side, the partnership is all about promoting and making aware the issue of mental health to the players and those involved with the Mustangs.
I was fortunate enough to go to a Mustangs game last year. My expectations were blown away. Not only was the sport fast and rough, the fans were vocal in the stands.
After what was a season that came oh so close to finals glory, I’m rather excited for 2014. Motivation is key to a winning team, and Andrew McDowell highlighted just how important it was that renewed fitness and strength, along with a quality coach and some exciting imports, helped benefit the Mustangs in 2013.
The Medibank Icehouse, where the Mustangs play their home games, is a state-of-the-art venue, and few fans can disagree.
Getting on board means a family-oriented culture and environment, plus you get to experience a sport that, in Australia, is missed among the codes that dominate during the winter months.