If history has taught AIHL fans anything, it is to not take early season results too seriously.
In 2012, the Knights defeated the Adrenaline, and Thunder twice in the first two rounds, but ended up 8th position.
In 2008, the North Stars lost seven of their first nine games, but went on to qualify fourth and win the AIHL Championship.
Representative duties, match fitness levels and late import arrivals have affected many teams’ season starts, and April is often the month of the underdog.
While some results from last week seem unexpected, unexpected is the norm throughout the early rounds of previous AIHL seasons.
Adelaide Adrenaline arguably have had the best off-season recruiting in the AIHL, but with so many players unavailable, were unable to defeat the Canberra Knights who finished in eighth place last season.
The Bears, who were missing a few players and key imports (Adelaide had four on the ice), then went and lost in a big way to the same Adrenaline team the day following.
With some teams missing their representative players (Aussies coming home late, or Kiwis still playing IIHF) and imports (North American playoffs usually run into May) we will continue to see some unpredictable results until things settle down in May.
Perth Thunder coach Stan Scott mentioned in his blog this last weekend that the Thunder will be without two of their import players well into May. If the Thunder surrender a few games prior to their arrival, that could be the difference between a finals placing and not, down the line.
But the risk of waiting for top-shelf imports can pay off, especially if a team makes finals qualification after weathering the early-season unpredictability and unavailability of players.
So if your team lost on the weekend, take solace in that it’s often the teams that start slow that come storming home to the AIHL finals.