Browse Tag: Sydney Ice Dogs

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.

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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”

The importance of rink crowd-capacities in the AIHL

 Australian Ice Hockey

Traditionally, ice hockey is not a sport you’d associate with Australia.

However, in recent years the sport has increased in popularity here. Bigger crowds are now turning out to watch Australian Ice Hockey League games, and there is a greater opportunity for kids to learn how to play the game.

With the rapid progression of technology and social media over the last decade, world-famous ice hockey leagues such as the NHL of North America and the KHL of Russia are a lot more accessible to fans all over the globe.

Games can be broadcast live and streamed on laptops, clips can be shared on facebook news feeds and match notifications and statistics can be sent straight to your phone.

This has undoubtedly been a large factor in the rise of Australian ice hockey. You only have to take a look around at AIHL games to spot a mix of NHL jerseys littered amongst those of the AIHL teams. Clearly plenty of Aussies are hungry for ice hockey to sink its skates firmly in Australian ice.

However, the AIHL is a semi-professional league. A bigger proportion of the fanbase attend the games in comparison with the aforementioned leagues.

There is a strong case for the argument that a huge part of semi-professional ice hockey stems from experiencing the game in person and soaking up the atmosphere, with less emphasis on post-match media and journalism in comparison to professional leagues.

Therefore it makes logical sense that if ice hockey in Australia is to continue to snowball in popularity then the venues for the games will need to improve to meet the demand of the fans. There needs to be reliable rinks with higher crowd capacities.

The Medibank Icehouse is home to the Melbourne Mustangs and the Melbourne Ice. It’s the best venue in the league. With two Olympic-sized rinks, one of which has a 1,000 seat capacity, it can be considered a world-class facility.

Apart from the game-day attributes, the Icehouse boasts a busy daily schedule of public skates, lessons and ice hockey training sessions.

Subsequently, the fanbases of the Mustangs and the Ice have both dramatically increased since it opened in 2010. If other teams in the league had the same quality of arenas as the two Melbourne teams currently do, perhaps we would see an even bigger rise in AIHL-followers.

Take the Sydney Ice Dogs for example. A great organisation with some great players, yet they play their games at the Liverpool Catholic Club Ice Rink which has a seating capacity of 500. A regular season home game there might see around 450 supporters attend the game.

This is a strong contrast to some of the Melbourne Ice games that can often sell-out of all 1,000 seats. Melbourne derby games are especially jam-packed.

The point to realise here is that clearly the restrictions of the rink have a big impact on the size of the fanbase. The Melbourne Ice’s fanbase eclipses that of the the Syndey Ice Dog’s, and the Medibank Icehouse has double the capacity of the Liverpool Catholic Club.

There will of course be a multitude of other reasons that affect how many followers a club will attract. Some argue that the quality of play of a sports team, and their overall success on the ice or the field, often dictates the size of the fanbase.

But one thing’s for sure, if clubs such as the Ice Dogs and the Ice regularly come close to selling out home game tickets, a bigger arena is needed. A semi-professional league is more dependent on game attendances than professional leagues, to both help improve the fanbase and to help boost team revenue (which is additionally important for further team development).

Some AIHL teams now stream games live in an effort to improve publicity. The Melbourne Mustangs games for example are generally streamed by 1,200 to 1,500 people. This is only roughly twice their normal game attendance.

If you compared the number of people watching an NHL regular-season game either on TV or via the internet against the number of people at the game itself, with that of AIHL games, the ratios would be much much different.

This signals the importance of crowd capacities in AIHL rinks, and leads to the question: As good as the Medibank Icehouse is, has the AIHL outgrown even this venue?

Ron Kuprowsky and Sydney Ice Dogs part ways

The Sydney Ice Dogs have been dealt a major blow to their 2014 Australian Ice Hockey League season with Head Coach Ron Kuprowsky resigning from his post, along with his coaching staff Colin Dowie and Brad Andrlon effective immediately.ice dogs logo

Breaking news from the AIHL social media outlets stating Kuprowsky would be resigning from his position filtered through late Thursday night.

On the Fly Hockey learned via a source that the news from the Ice Dogs wasn’t just limited to Kuprowsky, with the entire coaching staff parting ways from the Sydney club.

This was later confirmed in an official release from Andrew McMurtry of the AIHL website.

Kuprowsky had been at the helm of the Sydney club since 2010 and guided the Ice Dogs to their second Goodall Cup in 2013.

Born in Edmonton, Canada, Kuprowsky played for the Central Coast Rhinos and Ice Dogs from 2005 to 2007, before moving into the Sydney head coaching role in 2011.

Taking over the Sydney Ice Dogs in 2011, Kuprowsky would go on to have three successful seasons as coach reaching the semi-finals in 2011 and 2012, and the Goodall Cup final in 2013.

It would be third time’s the charm for Kuprowsky, as the Ice Dogs would take out the championship in 2013 after an impressive season where they would finish atop of the AIHL standings.

The news rocked the AIHL community, with many showing their disbelief via social media platforms Facebook and Twitter. The news and decision couldn’t have come at worse time for the Ice Dogs, with the 2014 AIHL season already in full swing.

Looking to move forward the Sydney Ice Dogs have confirmed that Dion Dunwoodie, Anthony Wilson and Mark Page have agreed to take over the coaching of the team in the interim.

With the AIHL season already in its third week, Sydney will need to regroup quickly if they are to defend their Goodall Cup crown in 2014.

Season Focus: Tim Noting

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When goaltender Anthony Kimlin made it known that he will not be returning for a second consecutive season with the Sydney Ice Dogs, this put the club in a conundrum as to who they could recruit to play in the cage in the upcoming year.

Many Ice Dogs fans were nervous and sceptical as to who would be able to not only replace, but play with the same professionalism and skill as Kimlin in what would be their championship defending season. Enter 6 foot 4 Swedish import goaltender Tim Noting.

From the moment he stepped onto the ice, the super Swede has been noting but instrumental to the Ice Dogs success this season.

What is even more impressive is his already detailed hockey resume that he has been able to acquire despite being only 22 years of age. His career all started in 2007 with the Lindingo Vikings Junior 18′s team (Sweden) at only 16 years of age.

Having made his mark on the league with an incredible .926% save average in his 45 games, it was safe to say that Tim Noting was set to make an impact in years to come with his brand of hockey. He was able to quickly move up the ranks to the Viking’s Junior 20′s team where he would post a .825% save average in his sole season with the team.

With these eye opening stats as well as his quick glove, incredible athleticism and agility for a man of his size, opportunities for him to play for other teams came knocking.

He would go on to play for Huddinge IK in both their junior and senior teams in the Division 1 league in Sweden where he would accumulate a combined .855% save average in his two seasons with the club. It is here that his potential was well and truly recognized and with that came roster spots at Fana IHK in Norway and Rimbo IF back in Sweden before he would find a temporary home in Australia.

In terms of his impact on the AIHL this season however, in the 1, 096 minutes through 22 games he has played thus far this season for the Ice Dogs, Noting has been able to achieve at .891% save average which puts him at 7th overall in the league.

While this stat itself might not be overly impressive on first glance, it is the fact that he has been able to uphold such a solid percentage having played the second most minutes and games out of any goalie in the league that has fans and players alike noticing the efforts of the Super Swede.

Another interesting stat is the fact that he has faced the 4th most shots out of any goalie in the league (676) and has been able to turn away 602 of them. This can be narrowed down to his quick glove and reflexes that continuously deny opposition forwards of an almost certain goal.

In terms of the tempo of the league and what sets it apart from others he has played in, Noting explained that.

“The best league I played in was the Swedish Div1, however, the fastest league would definitely be the Swedish J20SuperElit.

“It is however very hard to compare the hockey as it’s a whole different sport almost. I can’t find anything to compare it on ice, but something that the AIHL has that we don’t have in our league is a cup, we can only gain promotion into the next league. It makes it even more juicier to win games.”

His athleticism has truly helped him fit in with the high scoring nature of the league as well as the offensive style of it. While his time over in Sweden and Norway has helped him fine tune all aspects of his game, he does claim that it is a whole different game down under.

“The big thing I realised mid season was that I actually have to think during the games, which I normally don’t do,” continued Noting.

“Back home everything is so fast that you don’t have time to think and you just go. Faster hockey makes the possibilities for a play smaller cause you have less time.

“It is easier for goalies to try to read the play. Here it’s very hard to read the play, since the tempo isn’t very fast.”

When asked about how the AIHL differs from the Swedish leagues.

His ability to shut down breakaways while also snatching the puck out of mid air has offences frustrated at the best of times and has given the Ice Dogs fans added faith that he can do everything necessary to book the Ice Dogs a trip to Melbourne come the end of this month.

Inside the Locker Room: Sydney Ice Dogs import Tim Noting

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Bianca Musico caught up with the Sydney Ice Dogs newest import Tim Noting.

With Anthony Kimlin not returning to the Ice Dogs this season, the team had two choices. Use other local talent or search for an import. And so the search began.

Fans of the Ice Dogs were disappointed Kimlin wouldn’t be returning to the Sydney team for the season, but they can rest assured that their new 6’4” goalie will be ‘Noting’ like the rest.

The team acquired the 23-year-old Swedish import as their starting goaltender for the 2014 AIHL season, with Dylan Burgess as his backup.

Noting arrived earlier this week and has already hit the ice at practice with the Ice Dogs this past Tuesday.

Here is everything you need to know about the new goalie.

(BM) What inspired you to play ice hockey?

(TN) I played a lot of sports when I was a kid! But hockey was my main sport because of the speed and contact ice hockey brings. Still is today!

(BM) How long have you been playing for?

(TN) I started earlier then I could remember. I lived close to the rink and have an old hockey player dad so it was natural when I was a baby.

(BM) Which team do you support in the NHL and why?

(TN) I like Chicago! Mainly for their jerseys and that they’re an original six team.

(BM) Do you have a favourite player?

(TN) I don’t have a special favorite player like that. Then I would have to say the goalie. I look at NHL goalies and learn.

(BM) What made you choose to become a goaltender?

(TN) I was a centre in a late age but jumped in as a goalie here and there. When we played at home after normal practice I was a goalie cause I loved Patrick Roy. After a while all that practice made me better then the normal goalie and I took his spot.

(BM) What’s the best part about being a goalie? 

(TN) The pressure! Everything you do gets evaluated so much more than the players. Either you are a hero or a villain. And to be the hero when it’s so much at stake. There is no better feeling.

(BM) You went to the Ice Dogs training last night, what was your first impression of the team?

(TN) It was very short and it’s hard to say but their definitely some talent there. And the guys were very nice to me and made me feel like home in the dressing room. So we are gonna get along just fine.

(BM) How do you like Sydney so far?

(TN) I loved it so far. So much more stuff here than back home, plus it’s really warm here. I normally step outta the rink well dressed and it’s almost that it would be easier to keep the skates on. Love the weather and the people here seem so nice too.

(BM) What’s been the hardest part about coming to Sydney?

(TN) It was leaving all my good friends and my family. I’m very close to my friends and my brother so that was tough. I hope that they can come visit me though.

(BM) What is one thing you are most excited to do or see in Australia?

(TN) Oh wow where do I start? Everything from seeing all the animals, surfing and of course to bring back the cup this year too for the Ice Dogs!

The Ice Dogs are excited to have Tim on board and know he will be an integral part of the team this year.

On The Fly welcome Tim into the Australian Ice Hockey League family and wish him all the best this season.

Inside the Locker Room: In the kennel with Ice Dogs trio

The 2013 AIHL Finals weekend is almost upon us and fans and players alike are buzzing with excitement. The Sydney Ice Dogs are certainly a force to be reckoned with. Finishing the regular season on a triumphant note by taking out the minor premiership, heading into the finals on top of the ladder.

Bianca Musico was able to catch up with star players, Robert Malloy, Matt Puntureri and Paddy Ward and talk season highlights and the upcoming games, in what is guaranteed to be a thrilling weekend of ice hockey.

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Photo: Peter Podlaha – Injected Ideas Photography.

What has been your highlight of the season?

Malloy: The past month has been the highlight – our last Melbourne trip in particular. We knew that we needed to win each game in order to secure first place. There were a few games in which we were missing some key guys but we still found a way to win.

Puntureri: My favorite on ice moment was Brian Funes scoring to tie a shootout with the Melbourne Ice at home with “the move” in a 4-3 shootout win! Overall, it would be the boys growing as players and more importantly as people! We’ve all come a long way!

Ward: Winning the league and getting to visit different cities in Australia with a great bunch of teammates.

Who has been your toughest opponent throughout the year?

Puntureri: We certainly haven’t had any easy ones but Perth and Adelaide played very well against us!

Ward: We split our series against Newcastle and Perth but Melbourne Ice games were always very close also.

How does it feel going into the AIHL finals at the top of the ladder?

Malloy: It’s nice to know that we were the best team in the regular season – but it doesn’t mean anything in playoffs. With this format anything can happen – one little bounce could ruin our season. Personally, I would almost rather be the underdog. 

Puntureri: It’s a great honour to win a regular season title especially since it’s an organisation first, but we would prefer two wins this weekend!!

Ward: It’s a great confidence boost going to the playoffs as league champions but the playoffs are one off games so anyone can win on the night.

As a team you have had a strong season; do you think that gives you a good chance at winning the Goodall Cup?

Malloy: We have a great chance at winning the cup. By far the best chance I have seen since I have been on the team. We have played pretty consistently over the second half of the season – hopefully it carries over.

Puntureri: In a one game series I think it’s fair to say any team has a chance!! We have the goaltending to get the job done!

Ward: I think we have been a very hard team to beat this year and found ways to win even when we haven’t been playing our best so that gives us a good chance going into the finals weekend.

The Melbourne Ice has won the last three championships, how do you feel going into the first semi finals match against them?

Malloy: In order to be the best – we have to beat the best. They obviously know how to win games and championships. It doesn’t matter that they came in 4th place because they very easily could have been in any other position.

Puntureri:  Well it isn’t the match up you’d expect as a one seed, playing the 3 time champs in their home rink but it is a tremendous opportunity and challenge for us to end their streak! It would help with confidence going into Sunday!  

Ward: Melbourne [Ice] have been champions last three years and they will be hungry to defend their title especially playing at home. But we are determined to win and excited to play against Melbourne and it should be a great crowd.  

Say (hopefully) the Ice Dogs make the grand final, who would you prefer to go up against, Thunder or the North Stars?

Malloy: No preference

Puntureri: Well either way it will be a tough game but I think we’d prefer Newcastle! To be the best you want to beat the best! No offense to Perth because they are a fantastic team, but Newcastle and Melbourne have been the two best teams over the last few years!

Ward: We don’t really want to think about the Sunday game as we have to get past Melbourne first and to win the championship you have to beat who ever is put in front of you so doesn’t matter who we play.

What are your predictions for the outcome of the Thunder and North Stars game?

Malloy: North stars 5-3

Puntureri: It will be a lot of fun to watch! I’m gonna go 4-2 Newcastle with an empty netter in a very close, hard fought game!

Ward: Newcastle have been a very consistent team all year but Perth come into the finals after being on a strong run and will be playing with confidence.

Have there been any changes in game preparation for the finals or has it stayed similar to the regular season?

Malloy: Our approach has worked for us this year – so we aren’t going to fix something that isn’t broken

Puntureri: Well we’ve toned down the partying a little! But we have a very easygoing fun loving team so things are pretty similar to what they’ve been all year!

Ward: No changes leading up to the finals, you just try to prepare for every game the same but every player on both teams will be fired up for this weekend. And be willing to do anything for your team to give them a chance to win the Goodall Cup on Sunday.

Are you starting to feel the pressure of the finals? Has the team dynamic changed?

Malloy: I think it’s more excitement than pressure. This is the week we have been waiting for since this time last year.

Puntureri: No pressure!! This is the funnest part of the season! I like to pretend I’m 7 years old again before all the politics and business part of hockey got involved!

Ward: No the boys aren’t feeling the pressure as we have hit form at the right time of the year and we know we have the best goalie in the league and good depth throughout and believe in one another so we just stick together and keep playing the same systems Ronnie has given us. 

The issue of live streaming the games was a cause for concern among supporters and the league itself. What was your opinion on the issue?

Malloy: I strongly support the live stream. It’s awesome that my parents and friends can watch the games back home in Connecticut. It gives good exposure to the league as well.  I want to thank those who have volunteered with the live streams across the league so far this year.

Puntureri: I think like anything else in hockey or life, it is all a learning process. We have some trouble with that in North America as well!! We have the right leadership in place to continue to improve in all areas of the league!

Ward: I understand the leagues view that they want the fans to come watch the finals live as adds to the atmosphere but not every fan can make the trip to Melbourne and I’m sure players have friends and family all around Australia and other parts of the world who would love to watch the live stream.

The Ice Dogs have fought a hard season, and the fact they have come out minor premiers is a testament to their hard work. They show a keen determination on the ice and the tight network of teammates makes for a potent combination going into the semis on Saturday, August 7.

Bianca would like to thank the guys for taking the time out for this interview and also wish them the best of luck as they fight to bring the Goodall Cup to Sydney.