With such a huge weekend of hockey ahead of us, it’s easy to lose sight of the important details that can make or break your weekend.  These important tips won’t help your team win, but they will make sure you’ll be there when they do!

Getting there

By Road

The finals will be held at the Medibank Icehouse, located in Docklands at 105 Pearl River Road.  The venue itself does not offer on-site parking, so instead parking is available in the public multi-deck car park across the road at a reasonable rate.  This car park is usually very busy and spectators often report delays as long as 45 minutes when departing within an hour of the end of a game.  The car park is popular with AFL patrons attending games at Etihad Stadium which can cause a shortage of parking and additional delays.  AFL games have been scheduled at Etihad Stadium on Saturday at 7:40pm and Sunday at 4:40pm.  Although these times are later than scheduled AIHL start times it’s worth knowing that many football fans arrive early for a pre-game meal or drink, and therefore the car park can fill earlier than expected.  Resist the urge to park in the loading zones out the front of the Icehouse – these are regularly patrolled!

Parking is charged at:
First hour: $3
1-4 hours: $7
4-24 hours: $10

Hockeywise recommends: Park in the multi-deck car park at the corner of Waterfront Way and Star Circus and walk across to the Icehouse.  The walk will take approximately two minutes and will take you past the outdoor food court of the Harbourtown Shopping Precinct.  The car park is far less heavily used and the price remains the same.

By Public Transport

Train

Most suburban and interurban trains stop at Southern Cross Railway Station which is located approximately 2km (or a 25min walk) from the Icehouse.  The fastest path is to exit the platform via the northern stairs (toward Etihad stadium) and turn left, walking around the Etihad stadium concourse until reaching the waterfront (Harbour Esplanade).  From here continue north on Harbour Esplanade until reaching the intersection with Docklands Drive.  Turn left and continue up Docklands Drive until reaching Pearl River Road near the end of the tram line on your right.  Travel along Pearl River Road to reach the Icehouse.

Metro Trains advises of the following service changes during finals weekend:

  • Saturday: Track and infrastructure works taking place at Heyington Station, buses will replace all trains after 7:30pm on Saturday 30 August, between Burnley and Glen Waverley which may increase your journey by up to 30 minutes.
  • Sunday: After 8:30pm, signalling and track upgrades will take place between Burnley and Richmond stations. During this time, Glen Waverley trains will operate between Glen Waverley and Burnley stations only.  Take any service to Burnley Station (Belgrave/ Lilydale/ Ringwood) and change trains. Please note, these trains have been altered to stop at East Richmond, therefore no shuttle bus is required for East Richmond customers travelling from the city.
  • Saturday and Sunday: Extra services to serve football crowds (details).

You can get more information on services by calling Public Transport Victoria (PTV) on 1800 800 007 or on the web at ptv.vic.gov.au.

Hockeywise recommends: Take a train to Southern Cross station and then hire a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle from the hire point located on the lower concourse of the station.  The bicycle can be returned at the returns station on the corner of Docklands Drive and Waterfront Way, leaving you with a five minute walk to the Icehouse.  At $2.80 for the day for unlimited rentals of 30 minutes or less and with a forecast top of 21 deg on Saturday and 22 deg on Sunday you could do a lot worse!  Most stations offer free loan helmets.

Melbourne Visitor Shuttle

Melbourne operates a cheap ($5/day) visitor shuttle service which allows you to hop on and hop off at key city destinations. The shuttle drops off passengers in Pearl River Road only meters from the Icehouse daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm.  For more information on the shuttle check the Melbourne Visitor Shuttle website.

Hockeywise recommends: Make a day of it and see some of the sights in Melbourne.  Lygon street wouldn’t be a bad stop for lunch before the game.

By Boat

Trust us, it’s not as crazy as it sounds!  We’re expecting beautiful weather on Saturday and Sunday and there aren’t too many better ways to avoid the traffic than via the Yarra.  Melbourne Water Taxis is one of many operators who service Docklands, with a trip from Southgate to Docklands lasting around 25 minutes at a cost of $15/head.

Hockeywise recommends: Make the most of the weather and grab some great selfies with your friends in your team jersey out on the water.

By Tram

A tram stop is located near the intersection of Pearl River Road and Docklands Drive.  You can catch the free City Circle Tram to this stop or take tram 30 via La Trobe Street, 70 via Flinders Street or 86 via Bourke Street.

By Taxi

It is notoriously difficult to catch a taxi from the Harbourtown precinct of an evening (for example, after an afterparty) with little to no passing cabs to hail.  You will have better luck booking a taxi via phone or one of the many smartphone apps offered by the taxi providers.  Popular operators include 13 CABS (13 2227) and Silver Top Taxis (131 008).

Hockeywise recommends: Book a cab using the Uber smartphone app (https://www.uber.com/).  You’ll get much better control of your booking.

At the Icehouse

Schedule

Saturday:

  • 12:30pm-2:00pm: APA Group Skate Like the Stars Experience – open to all finals ticket holders.
  • 1:00pm-2:00pm: Nathan Walker autograph signing – open to all finals ticket holders.
  • 3:00pm-5:30pm: AIHL Semi-final #1 (Melbourne Mustangs v Sydney Ice Dogs.)
  • 6:30pm-8:30pm: AIHL Semi-final #2 (Melbourne Ice v CBR Brave.)
  • 8:30pm-close: AIHL Awards Reception – includes announcement of AIHL 2014 award winners. Note: Held at the Groove Train restaurant, second floor of the Harbourtown Shopping Precinct food court.

Sunday:

  • 6:45am-7:45am: Nathan Walker training session – all welcome.
  • 3:00pm-5:15pm: AIHL Grand Final.
  • 5:30pm-8:00pm: Coors After Party – held in the Skaters Lounge at the Icehouse; first 250 attendees provided with a free Coors beer on arrival.

When to Arrive

Doors typically open 60 minutes before the scheduled commencement of play, with a warm-up commencing 15 minutes prior to the scheduled commencement of play.  Seating is allocated, however standing room is not.  If you have standing room tickets it’s suggested that you arrive and queue early to ensure the best possible spot.  Those with allocated seating or VIP access need not arrive any earlier than normal.  The side door will not be in use as it is for regular season games.

Standing Room

Ample standing room is provided at the Icehouse with a number of very good vantage points to consider.  The St. Moritz bar provides excellent viewing from the second floor of the venue behind glass with rink audio and commentary piped in to keep fans in the moment.  TV screens placed throughout display live game vision in high definition.  Limited seating is available with most spectators preferring to stand up to three-deep around the glass.  The bar area is ideal if you are unprepared for the cold environment found beside the rink.  For details on how to access St. Moritz please see the food and beverage section.

Standing room is available at the rear of the grandstand up to three-deep.  Care should be taken not to stand behind the Fox Sports camera operators positioned in the middle of bay three, and that a gap is left behind spectators and the rear wall.  This area is routinely busy during the game with patrons travelling to and from food and beverage service areas and bathrooms, and at the end of periods is almost impossible to navigate.

Standing room is provided at the eastern end (affectionately known as the South Pole end) and the western end (affectionately known as the Bell end) of the rink behind the goals.  Beware that goal judges will be stationed in both locations, so it’s best to ensure that your chosen location is not obstructed by this.  The ledge at the bottom of the glass is a popular place to rest beverages while spectating, but take care as players coming into contact with the glass will almost certainly spill your drink.

Allocated Seating

There are five numbered bays at the venue with the bay closest to the entrance being numbered Bay 1.  Remember that hockey etiquette is to remain seated whilst play is in progress!

Food and Beverage

A bar service will be in operation from the St Moritz bar throughout the day with a variety of beers, ciders, spirits and non-alcoholic beverages.  St Moritz Bar can be accessed via the south-eastern (the grandstand faces north) stairwell on the first level by proceeding through the door behind the kiosk and to the left.  If you intend to take your glass-bottled drink into the grandstand ensure you ask for it to be poured into a plastic cup first.  No food is available from this location.

A kiosk will be in operation from its usual position in the landing of the south-eastern stairwell and will sell a variety of hot and cold foods and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  This location is always busy with long delays expected all weekend.  It is best to visit the kiosk whilst play is in progress.

The Icehouse cafe is located on the north-western side of the rink behind the Henke room with access via the north-eastern end of the rink and the skaters lounge.  The cafe serves a wide variety of sit-down meals.

Vending machines are available at the eastern end of the rink behind the goals.

Make some noise?

Naturally a loud and passionate crowd is expected for all three games.  Bring your best and loudest chants to spur your boys on to victory.  Here is a list of items best left at home:

  • Bells (eg; cowbells, jingle bells, Lachlan Bell.)
  • Horns (air operated or hand operated, vuvuzellas.)
  • Whistles.
  • Any noise maker likely to annoy those around you.

Mobile Reception

The Icehouse is a large metal-clad building on the edge of an urban center.  As a result mobile telephone coverage with the three major carriers is average at best.  An anticipated crowd of 1800 fans is likely to overwhelm the local cells, particularly at high-traffic times such as intermissions and after major game events such as goals.  Please be patient and don’t expect miracles from your phone or tablet.  No wifi service is available at the venue, however Harbourtown Hotel across the road provides wifi access with a purchase.

Game Rules

Period Length

As per the regular season periods will run 15 minutes /15 minutes / 20 minutes.

Overtime

There are no shootouts in the Finals.  If teams are tied at the end of regulation play, play will continue with 20 minute periods until a golden goal is scored. Once the overtime goal has been scored, the game is stopped and a winner will be declared.

The overtime procedure will be as follows:

  • At the conclusion of the third period, teams will retire to their dressing rooms for a full 15 minute intermission.
  • The ice will be resurfaced as per normal.
  • Overtime periods will be played 5 on 5 (5 skaters and 1 goalie per team.)

With all of this in mind you should be all set for an awesome finals weekend.  Got a tip that we may have missed?  Let us know on Facebook or Twitter.