The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) regular season is in the books with each of the eight teams completing their 28 game schedule. The Sydney Ice Dogs placed first overall and have a chance to stop the Melbourne Ice from winning a fourth consecutive playoff title Saturday September 7th at 4:00 pm in Melbourne, Australia (2:00 am Toronto time). The final three games of the year, over the playoff weekend, can be streamed live through the AIHL official website. See below for more details.
The top scorers in the league were once again dominated by imports but it was nice to see more and more local talent producing. Among the top ten were three Ontario Hockey League grads.
Simon Barg – Sydney Ice Dogs
Barg placed fourth with 55 points on 26 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 28 games for the Ice Dogs. Simon played two years in the OHL, 2001-02 and 2002-03, with the Barrie Colts. He has played pro since 2007-08 in Germany and Italy. 2013 was Barg’s first year in Australia.
Matt Armstrong – Melbourne Ice
The Melbourne Ice have won three consecutive playoff championships and are gunning for a fourth. OHL grad Matt Armstrong has been there from the beginning. To date, Armstrong has totalled 202 points on 81 goals and 121 assists over 99 career AIHL regular season games. Matt finished fifth in AIHL scoring with 54 points on 26 goals and 28 assists over 24 games.
Matt played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 1999-00 to 2002-03 with the Kitchener Rangers, Peterborough Petes, Plymouth Whalers and Barrie Colts. He played just two games with the Colts but was teammates with Simon Barg for that short period of time.
Matt Puntureri – Sydney Ice Dogs
In his first year in Australia, Puntureri placed sixth in scoring with 54 points on 28 goals and 24 assists over 27 games. Once the 13th overall pick at the 2001 OHL Priority Selection by the Guelph Storm, Matt played four years in the OHL from 2001-02 to 2004-05 with the Guelph Storm, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Oshawa Generals.
Sydney provided stability for Puntureri after a well travelled 2012-13 season in North America. Matt played for four different teams, including the Augusta RiverHawks of the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL), Williamsport Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League (FHL), Bloomington Blaze of the Central Hockey League and the Danbury Whalers of the FHL. He has played pro since 2007-08 in the SPHL, France’s Ligue Magnus, the FHL and CHL.
As mentioned, the Australian league has eight teams playing 28 regular season games each. The Sydney Ice Dogs finished first overall and will compete for the Goodall Cup this weekend. The Melbourne Ice have owned the Goodall Cup for the past three years and will also compete this weekend. The other two teams participating are the Perth Thunder and the Newcastle North Stars. Newcastle was the dominate force in the AIHL before Melbourne began its current dynasty.
The weekend schedule looks like this:
Melbourne and Sydney face off at 4pm on Saturday, September 7. This equates to 2 am on Saturday in Toronto. Following that game, the Thunder and North Stars take to the ice at 7:30pm Melbourne time, or 5:30am Toronto time. The final will take place on Sunday, September 8 at 4pm Melbourne time, or 2am Toronto time.
All three games will be streamed live. If you’re in Canada and want to get up in the middle of the night to see what the Aussie game is all about, go to the AIHL Official Website at game time and click on the ‘TV & Live Stream’ button on the top menu bar.
Surely, these three OHL grads will play prominent roles in that first game between the Ice and Ice Dogs.