Browse Tag: Australia

Stephenson ready for Goodall Cup tilt

With his return to the Sydney Ice Dogs on the weekend, Scott Stephenson’s influence and experience out on the ice will be a much needed boost to the Sydney outfit, as they look to break their Goodall Cup drought.

icevice dogs

Photo: Pic by Wulos.

Speaking post Mustangs victory, Stephenson was happy with where the Ice Dogs currently sit this early in the season.

“It’s really good to come back and be 2-1 on the season. Personally, my goal this year is to win the Championship – I was away representing Australia at the U-18s in 2004 when the Ice Dogs last won it, so it’d be nice to achieve that this year,” said Scott Stephenson.

Australian players and staff recently returned from a trip to Croatia to compete in the IIHF Division II Group A World Championships tournament. The Mighty Roos would finish the tournament on 7 points from 5 games played, earning them a fourth place finish and guarantee them Division II Group A safety.

“I’ve represented Australia 8 times now. It was an interesting tournament. We had 9 new players in the team, so it took some time to develop chemistry.

“We should have beaten Iceland [a shootout loss] and Serbia [5-3 loss]. We outshot and outworked Serbia but gave away bad breakaways – weren’t on our game defensively. Anthony [Kimlin] stood on his head for us, but he just wasn’t backed up by the rest of the team. Having him there was a big plus for us, and he’s a big plus for the Ice Dogs this season too. To let him start the season 2-1 is good for him to build on. As long as we don’t take him for granted, we’ll do well this year. Dale [Burgess] did a great job in net whilst Anthony was away.

“Was great to have Billy [Cliff] on the National team. Played a lot with him and my brother [Todd Stephenson]. Billy was getting more ice time at the end of the tournament and he’s stepped up since coming back to the Ice Dogs.

“Every team in the Division we played in has won gold at one point or another – a really good experience for the younger guys and helps them build upon in the future – both in AIHL and at National level”

A Storm is coming!

With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft just the around the corner, it has added emphasis for Australians this time around. Our very own Nathan Walker has the opportunity to be the first ever Australian drafted into the NHL since Darren Gani was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1984, ranked the 25th best European skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, it’s no wonder the people of Australia are excited.

walker

Nathan Walker was born in Wales, traveled to Australia with his parents at the young age of 2 years old. Where his initial love wasn’t for the cold ice rinks of Australia, but following in his fathers footsteps as he tried to pursue a career in the sport of rugby league.

This is something i also found rather stagering about the whole situation he finds himself in now, it’s the sheer fact that he played rugby league at a young age for the Cronulla Sharks & only truly focused on hockey later in life.  And now he finds himself embarking on a career in one of the worlds biggest competitions, the NHL.

Like most Australian hockey fans i find myself excited with the thought of Walker being drafted into the NHL, and it’s not just the fact that it could be a landmark moment for Nathan, but it could also prove to be a landmark moment for Ice Hockey Australia & the entire AIHL organisation.

If the drafting does occur, news will immediately filter back from the states & fill up all the radio, newspapers & TV coverage throughout the nation. Is that putting too much pressure on the kid? Possibly.

But i think the description of Australia’s Wayne Gretzky holds a heavier tag, as The Telegraph described Nathan Walker set to be first Australian to break into the NHL.

Walker moved to Europe in search of hockey, joining HC Vítkovice Steel U18 team, with things moving along nicely in the Extraliga U18 competition. The first major news Nathan made overseas was at junior level in the Czech Republic, he was able to score 6 goals in a match & things kept getting better as he made his way into the Vítkovice U20 squad.

Since then Walker has represented Australia & helped them win promotion to the IIHF Championship Division 1 back in 2011, he also represented HC Vítkovice Steel in the 2011 Spengler Cup. There he went on to make more headlines as he became the youngest player to score in Spengler Cup history, something which just added to the list of impressive honours he has personally accomplished so early in his career.

He had a short stint in the AIHL with the Sydney Ice Dogs before heading back over to the Czech Republic, and even though we don’t get to see Nathan in the flesh a whole lot, the Australian ice hockey community is very proud of Stormy.

His short stature is something which was always going to be a draw back when NHL clubs looked at Walker, but as Vítkovice captain Jiří Burger said last year, he makes up for his size in other areas “Sure, Nathan is on the small side, but he makes up for it with great skating.”

Talk about Nathan is now world wide, with major hockey forums like HF Boards also spreading the Walker name.

We can only wish that another thing to add to the list of his hockey honours is being drafted by an NHL club this year, from there, things are in Walkers hands & he can skate as far as he wants with it.

Not only will millions across North America be tuning into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, but a whole country down under, i hope gets on board & supports one of our most talented young athletes.

At the age of 18 years Walker could be a perfect poster boy to carry the sport in this country into the next decade, so find a TV set, tune in on June 23-24 & celebrate what could be a great moment in Australia’s sporting history.

Will you be watching?

Ice Hockey Australia announces 2013 World Championship Squad

Last week, Ice Hockey Australia announced the Mighty Roos Senior squad for the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Division II World Championships, to be held in April next year.

Australia is in Group A of this division, having been relegated after finishing 6th last year in the Division I Group B Championship last year.

might roos

Photo: Lukáš Bagjar

 

New South Wales is heavily represented in the 22 man squad, with 6 Sydney Ice Dogs (including Nathan Walker, currently playing for HC Vitkovice of the Czech Extraliga), 2 Newcastle North Stars and 1 player from the Sydney Bears being selected.

There are a mix of veterans and new faces selected, and Head Coach Vladimir Rubes is quoted on the IHA website as saying that “…all [players] having played in the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL)…The standard of the AIHL combined with previous world championship experience and youth will be the team’s strength to carry us back to Division I and remain there in the long term.”

The team was selected through a series of tryouts, camps and training sessions, to ensure the best players available were selected.

Some notable faces in the Australian lineup for Sydney Ice Dogs fans are defencemen Tomas Manco and Brian Funes, and forwards Todd Stephenson, Scott Stephenson and Billy Cliff.

Cliff had a breakout season in the 2012 AIHL season, playing 23 games and accruing 17G and 29 points, as well as 72 PIMS – all personal best numbers of his career.

Ice Dogs president, Shane Rose said “This is a great result. The fact that 9 players from the Sydney Ice Dogs have been selected for national duties [3 Ice Dogs junior players – Cam Rose, Tyler Kubara and Alec Stephenson – have been selected for the Junior squad, playing in Serbia in January] shows the strength and depth of the club’s development programs”.

Ice Dogs coach Ron Kuprowsky was more succinct – “Brilliant”.

In Division II Group A, Australia will meet Belgium, Croatia, Iceland, Serbia and Spain. Games start April 7 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Stay tuned to On The Fly Hockey for live streaming details (if available).