Thursday, April 12, 2018 - Submitted by AIHL Newsdesk
MELBOURNE PREPARES FOR ITS HOCKEY FESTIVAL
In the lead up to the official AIHL 2018 season launch on 21 April, four AIHL teams will come together over two days in Melbourne to showcase some great pre-season hockey.
The Hockey Festival held 14-15 April will see the Melbourne Ice and cross-town neighbours the Melbourne Mustangs welcome the CBR Brave and the Adelaide Adrenaline to the O’Brien Group Arena for eight short format games and plenty of off-ice activities.
HOCKEY IS BACK!
For Andy Lamrock, CEO of the Melbourne Ice and local hosts of the Hockey Festival, this weekend is all about preparing for the winter season with the opportunity to shake off the rust and fine tune ahead of what is expected to be a huge year.
“Teams get an opportunity to make those last selections and tune up their systems, whilst the officials and volunteers get the chance to put into practice everything they have planned for the season ahead, said Lamrock.
“This is a great way to enjoy some high energy hockey, see the new line ups and kick start the bragging right for 2018, it’s going to be so much fun.”
The Hockey Festival is not only a chance to test out pre-season training systems: players and teams plus officials and coaches from Ice Hockey Victoria will participate in off-ice development and training including concussion awareness training with support from Stop Concussions.
On Saturday they’ll be six round-robin games of 15 minute stop-time, and that evening Teams will host a charity dinner, creating an opportunity for attending fans to break bread with their heroes and sneak in a few selfies.
By Sunday, Team ranked 3rd and 4th will play for bronze, while top ranking 1st and 2nd will play off for Hockey Festival bragging rights.
KEEPING AN EYE ON THE DETAIL
For Mustangs Head Coach Maxime Parent-Langelier, the Hockey Festival will be the second time the Melbourne rivals meet in the off-season for a friendly (read competitive) scrimmage.
“The pre-season game against the Melbourne Ice gave us the opportunity to evaluate our players individually as well as assessing where we were at as a group, said Max.
“It was a good way for us to practice the systems we have been working on and make everything more natural when we step on the ice for our first AIHL regular season game.
“We obviously did not get the result we wanted (the Mustangs went down 3-2 to the Ice), but our main focus was on the small details of our game and getting the process right so that we game the results we want during the season.
So will the round-robin style Hockey Festival give the Melbourne teams an advantage going into the AIHL 2018 season?
“I think the first game is always the toughest one, continued Max.
“Players haven't played an actual game in 7-8 months so there's a bit of rust to get out of the system. In that sense, the Melbourne teams might have a slight advantage at the beginning of the tournament. However, I'm expecting the Canberra and Adelaide to be very well prepared for the tournament and it should be a very good test for all teams going into the season.”
A MEASURED DOSE OF ADRENALINE
“We haven’t named captains for the Festival weekend, noted Adelaide Adrenaline Coach Jim Fuyarchuk.
“We are taking our time to make the final decision, because we feel it is essential we have a solid leadership group in place to help guide our very young team.”
While Fuyarchuk confirmed the weekend will give his coaching staff an opportunity to really assess their playing group, his eye is on the 21st of April, where the Adrenaline will play their season opener on the road in Melbourne.
“Our intention is to give every player a good opportnity to play, to display his strengths for us to assess. This will give us more insight into our overall preparation for League games.
A CHANCE TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY
Rob Starke, CBR Brave’s Coach renowned for his focused approach believes his team is already well prepared for the season launch, having been working hard on and off the ice.
In addition to their training, the Brave feel they’ll be bolstered by the off-season ice time of players coming back from international leagues.
“Several players have been overseas for our off season and have recently arrived back in Canberra in top form, said Starke.
“For our club, the Festival is an opportunity to give back to our sport and play some competitive pre-season hockey.
“We are certainly looking forward to helping raise awareness and funds for Stop Concussions and local junior hockey (through the charity dinner and off-ice education events).
Head to the O’Brien Group Arena to catch all the Hockey Festival fun and action.