The Melbourne Mustangs finished ninth from nine teams in 2012, so can only improve.
The Mustangs have released their team for the 2013 season. While their local roster is dominated by youth, the Mustangs have recruited well on their imports and should be an improved side from 2012.
Missing are 2012 captain Shane Hardy and Jack Carpenter, along with imports Jake Ebner and Scott Levitt.
Ebner was the only Mustangs player to get close to achieving a point a game, with 0.9PPG. John Sullivan did score 1.0PPG but only played three games.
Brendan McDowell was the only non-import for the Mustangs to score over 0.5PPG.
There is a similarly troubling run of stats in the goal crease. Fraser Carson had the best GAA at 4.1, followed by import Oliver Wren. Wren’s save % was the best of the three at 86.1%.
The eighth place team of 2012, the Canberra Knights, had 18th place top-scorer Nick Polaski at 1.5PPG, 19th place scorer Lucas Schott at 1.6PPG, Jordan Gavin top-scoring for non-imports at 1.1PPG, and the irascible import goalie Mike Brown with a GAA of 3.6 and a very impressive 91% save percentage.
Therefore, the Mustangs need to double their effectiveness at an individual level. Ironically in hockey, that typically comes from better teamwork.
The Mustangs have brought in American-born Melbourne Ice legend Brad Vigon. A former Ice Captain, Vigon returned to the Ice after a multi-season sabbattical in 2010 seeking to get his name on the Goodall Cup, and succeeded.
Vigon will use his experience as a player and coach to lead his young side into a game with better teamwork, better game preparation and maturity. Curiously, both the Ice and Mustangs played their best hockey away from Melbourne – both had a nearly 20% advantage away over home games.
On the import roster, the Mustangs have taken a big step forward with the recruitment of three pros and two collegiate players.
Pat O’Kane and Kevin Glanzman are teammates from Div II NCAA hockey in USA, where they played for Assumption College.
Jack Wolgemuth & Jon Olthuis are both college players now turned professional and performing well in the tier III SPHL.
Olthuis has an impressive pedigree including Junior, College, and plenty of SPHL and a few call ups into CHL & ECSL pro teams. Olthuis is a former teammate of the North Stars’ Brian Bales, from the University of Alaska – Anchorage in the WCHA.
Wolgemuth has been close to being a 1.0PPG player in the SPH for the past two seasons.
Vigon also has Vadam Virjassov returning as a relief import.
The Mustangs have plenty of work to do, but now they have the tools to do it.
In summary, the Mustangs have a lot of ground to make up, but with a top-quality and experience import core and an influential and experience local coach, have an excellent opportunity to start climbing the AIHL ladder.