Eight teams compared side-by-side after six games each.
1. Melbourne Ice (13pt, 4-0-1-1 72%)
Melbourne Ice have had a few wobbles, including an overtime loss to the Ice Dogs and a loss to the Adelaide Adrenaline. The Ice have a deep team and have been complete since their second game.
The Ice have also had four wins, more than any other AIHL team, and are looking very solid for a top four finish.
2. Sydney Ice Dogs (12pt, 3-1-1-1 67%)
The Ice Dogs have had good reasons to blow a couple of games early. They were well short of their full team, and have been consistently good since. Anthony Kimlin has been as advertised; reliably excellent.
Matt Puntereri has been a stand out scorer with 14 points from 5 games.
If Ice Dogs are short on talent compared to any other team, they’re more than making it up in work ethic and individual effort.
3. Newcastle North Stars (12pt, 4-0-0-2 67%)
The North Stars started their season on fire with three wins, but then blew two games in the one weekend versus the Bears and Knights. A win in Melbourne against the Mustangs makes up the six and 1st quarter.
The North Stars are starting to gamble with their youth more, are enjoying their deepest ever team and are getting game-winning performances from Olivier Martin, John Kennedy Jr and Nick Quirk.
4. Melbourne Mustangs (8pt, 2-1-0-3 44%)
Yes, the Mustangs! The Mustangs are a top four team at the quarter mark. Two wins versus the Knights and a shoot-out win versus the Ice Dogs put the Mustangs at the top of the second group.
The Mustangs team is enjoying some excellent work ethic from a young team, and wunderkind Pat O’Kane continues to keep his scoring touch burning under pressure.
The Mustangs players have some games against other top four teams ahead of them, and will need to lift another step to fight off the teams below them.
5-8 Adelaide Adrenaline (6pt 2-0-0-4 33%)
Adelaide is one of four teams with an average of just one point per game at the 1st quarter point of the season. The Adrenaline have been hamstrung by representative absences and more recently, injuries and suspensions.
The Adrenaline have yet to play a home game, and with a deep and talented roster, and a big home stretch ahead of them, are very good candidates to improve into a top four position.
5-8 Sydney Bears (6pt 2-0-0-4 33%)
Sydney Bears have been slowly building up steam, after initially struggling under the weight of representative duties and late arrivals.
Renars Kazanovs is a big difference-maker and is capable of single-handedly winning games that the Bears normally wouldn’t.
Evergreen veterans Vlad Rubes and Mike Schlamp lead this team and are capable of leading them back into a final four placing.
5-8 Canberra Knights (6pt 2-0-0-4 33%)
The Knights are a step up on previous seasons. When they have a full squad and the right attitude, they are quite capable of upsetting any team.
Their win in Newcastle was the first in five years, and was a milestone for a team that struggles to keep up supply of young talent from the AIHL’s smallest market.
While their imports are good, it’s their Aussies who have added the oomph to the Knights that make them genuine spoilers in any games they play.
5-8 Perth Thunder (6pt 2-0-0-4 33%)
The Thunder have been expected by so many to be a top-four team in 2013, and it’s still quite a possibility. Stan Scott has recruited a cracking forward squad including a young star in Michael Forney. Forney’s reputation alone is enough to have overseas teams and players looking at Australia with renewed interest, rather than the novelty factor in the past.
The questions for the Thunder will be on their defence and goaltending.
A top two finish is probably out of the question at this point, but the Thunder are still very much in the race for a top four placing with just a two point game between teams 4 though to 8.