Another AIHL season, another Ice Championship?
It’s certainly a possibility.
The Melbourne Ice have shown their cards early, naming their five imports and local players a month out from the start of the season.
It’s no surprise that teams that suffer low turn-over succeed, and the Ice side is largely unchanged from the team that’s won three Goodall Cups in consecutive seasons.
New President Emma Poynton has told media she feels that the other teams are “hunting down” the Ice, with analogies to wearing targets and “snipers in the rafters”. Certainly there is no better way to motivate the other seven teams, then by winning three championships in a row.
Perennial imports Jason Baclig & Matt Armstrong remain, although they may not be imports by the time the year is out. Along with depth guy Mike Thorburn, the Ice have also added big-time hockey depth to their blue-line, with pros Chris Frank and John Gordon on their way to Melbourne from O/S professional leagues.
Along with Glen Mayer out of retirement, the Ice have retained the top Aussie team depth of Lliam Webster, Todd Graham, Joey & Vinnie Hughes, Tommy Powell and Aussie Junior stars Chris and Marcus Wong.
The biggest change for the Ice is in net. For the first time in their history, the Ice are without Stu Denman.
Apprentices Dahlen Phillips & Andrew Crowther will have to outperform Kiwi Jaden Pine-Murphy on his return from Ice Blacks duties in Turkey.
The final change for the Ice is the return of former coach, Sandy Gardner. Gardner is an old-school coach who didn’t have much success in previous seasons, but with a team like this – it may be that he just has to let them do their thing, and keep them winning.