So the Australian Ice Hockey League continues to improve, league structure, continuous crowd improvement & now the Perth Thunder have been added into the 2012 AIHL schedule. Along with the great news coming out of Perth, the Mustangs have been officially granted the ability to call themselves Melbourne.
The league is slowly working it's way towards a fully fledged national competition, the addition of Perth into the league is a sign of the growing popularity that ice hockey has in this country. The move to include Perth in the AIHL plans moving forward was a tricky & well thought out process, considering the financial costs it will now put on not only Perth, but the rest of the competition.
It's a big bonus that everyone involved was able to produce a viable business plan, travel costs was always going to be one of the main issues when thinking about the addition of Perth into the league. Time difference and the fact that every club in the hockey league are non professional, it meant everything involved in the decision had to be worked over with a fine tooth comb. Perth had been trying to enter the league since 2009 & they finally got their wish, Stan Scott was delighted.
“The AIHL worked closely with us to develop a system that could overcome these issues,” he said.
“You must consider that no matter when Perth actually entered the league, the issues relating to costs, travel and scheduling would always exist for us,” said Scott.
Talk has already surfaced as to what will now happen with the fixture having an additional ninth team in the competition, talk of an East v West scenario has been spoken about at league headquarters. I firmly believe an East v West type of fixture wouldn't work & think that the league should just increase the season, having more games will just invite more fans back through the gates who love ice hockey. This of course will need to be viable for all parties concerned, travel costs & game day setup costs will need to be carefully monitored when discussing the new fixture which will now include Perth.
Perth Thunder the newest inclusion into the Australian Ice Hockey League is in my opinion, something we as a hockey community should all be proud of. It highlights the professionalism in which everyone from the top down has been trying to implement, from the commission, clubs & officials everyone has done there bit in improving the sport in Australia. Now that we are on the verge of hitting the national competition landmark, if not already there with Perth, we should all give ourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.
One of the other big news stories this off season was the approval for the Mustangs to now call themselves Melbourne, which is what the club had been wanting since entering the AIHL this past season. With the Mustangs unable to be called Melbourne throughout the 2011 season, it will now hopefully open doors to more financial success at the club. Corporate marketing will be the biggest winner with the decision, having the Melbourne name will now entice better sponsorship going forward & the club also hopes it will improve the fan base as well.
With the Mustangs holding their own in the 2011 season, finishing a solid 6th in the league. The addition was a great success for the AIHL, and the approval of the Melbourne name is something which continues to highlight how well managed the club is both on & off the ice.
By Andrew Macdougall