Well it's finally official, the Melbourne Mustangs will be the second Melbourne based team to play in the AIHL. After weeks of organisation and months of exhibition games against AIHL and overseas opposition, the club was given the green light to compete for the Goodall Cup in 2011.
Sunday afternoon was AGM day, where the AIHL discussed a various range of issues, one which included expansion.
Along with the Mustangs, the Perth Thunder will also be given a chance to showcase what they have to offer, after being given a provisional spot for 2011. There have been four clubs already showing interest in traveling to Western Australia for games against the Thunder, as well as the Perth side moving across the country to compete against teams from the east coast. With the Thunder already showing a lot of promise this year, when they defeated the Adelaide Adrenaline 7-3, they will no doubt be hoping for a similar year come 2011.
This is a huge step forward for ice hockey in Australia, the Mustangs have shown a lot of professionalism throughout 2010 in their bid for a spot in the AIHL, with it now granted for 2011, the league can look towards making this great sport truly national, with the addition of the Perth Thunder for 2012.
A local derby for Melbourne will be a huge boost to the AIHL, with the Ice getting very large crowds down at the Icehouse on a regular basis, they have really been one of the standout clubs in the country. The addition of the Mustangs is surely going to spice things up in the sporting capital of the world, adding more games for the people of Melbourne, we should see a spike in gate receipts.
Speaking to many of the locals who have been trying to attend games at the Icehouse and yet having to be turned away due to demand for Melbourne Ice games, this move to add a second Melbourne team, is a breath of fresh air.
John Belic, the coaching staff & all the players deserve a big pat on the back, as a long grueling 2010 has finally paid off. Now the club must turn its attention towards the 2011 season, with the club roster the number priority. Quality imports will be a major key to the success of the club, with the Ice already stitching up high calibre players for next season, the Mustangs will be hoping they can continue to attract quality imports like this years success story Scott Corbett.
Also announced from the AIHL is the commission for 2010-2011, with Ben Keily, Alex Lata, Sasky Stewart, Tyler Lovering & Peter Lambert all taking up a post. Yet to be decided is a chance for two independent commissioners coming on board, something that will be decided by the current commission members elected.
2011 is set to be a blockbuster year, a new team, a provisional team coming out of Western Australia & Melbourne hosting the Division II World Championship, the coolest game on ice is set to get some major exposure to everyone across Australia & the world, something that the IHA & AIHL organisations can take great pride in.
By Andrew Macdougall