The Australian Ice Hockey League will soon start the 2013 season. The AIHL consists of nine teams that each play a regular season schedule of 28 games. Most of the teams are located in a fairly tight area on the East Coast with just the Perth Thunder located on the far west side.
The AIHL has been around since 2000. The Melbourne Ice have been awarded the Goodall Cup for the past three seasons as the league’s playoff champions. The past two years, Melbourne has defeated the Newcastle North Stars in the final game. In 2010, it was the Adelaide Adrenaline that fell to the Ice.
The Newcastle North Stars are no stranger to the finals. Since 2003, the team has won the championship on four occasions and lost in the finals five times. The league has strict import rules but the there are typically a handful of Ontario Hockey League grads applying their trade down under. So far, for the 2013 season, there are three confirmed with surely more to come.
Matt Armstrong – Melbourne Ice
Armstrong is entering his fourth year with Melbourne and has been a huge part of the team’s three consecutive championships. Matt played four years in the OHL from 1999-00 to 2002-03 with the Kitchener Rangers, Peterborough Petes, Plymouth Whalers and Barrie Colts. He was a fourth round pick of the Rangers at the 1999 OHL Priority Selection, 65th overall.
Matt played in the CIS with Concordia for two years following his OHL days. Before moving to Australia, he played in the Netherlands and Germany, along with eleven games of North American pro during the 2009-10 season (6 games in the IHL and 5 games in the SPHL). In 75 career regular season games in the AIHL, Armstrong has totalled 148 points, a very respectable 1.97 points per game pace.
Simon Barg – Sydney Ice Dogs
For Barg, 2013 will be his first year in the AIHL. Simon last played pro hockey in 2011-12 with the Frankfurt Lions of Germany’s Oberliga (tier 3). He played two years in the OHL, 2001-02 and 2002-03, with the Barrie Colts. Following his junior career, Barg played four years in the CIS with the University of Toronto Blues from 2003-04 to 2006-07. He played in Europe from 2007-08 to 2011-12, mostly in Germany but he also had a year in Italy.
Matt Puntureri – Sydney Ice Dogs
Puntureri brings a champions mind to Sydney for his first year in the AIHL. For the past three seasons, Matt has played in the Federal Hockey League championship series, winning the past two years. After a 2012-13 season that saw him play for the Augusta RiverHawks of the SPHL, Williamsport Outlaws of the FHL and Bloomington Blaze of the Central Hockey League, Puntureri joined the Danbury Whalers for the FHL playoffs. The Whalers defeated the Dayton Devils in a three game sweep for the win.
In 2011-12, he played exclusively for the New Jersey Outlaws of the FHL. The team met the Danbury Whalers in the finals and won by a three game sweep. As a member of the FHL’s Brooklyn Aviators in 2010-11, Matt reached the finals but the team fell to the Akwesasne Warriors.
Puntureri played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2001-02 to 2004-05 with the Guelph Storm, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Oshawa Generals. In fact, Matt was the thirteenth overall pick by the Storm at the 2001 OHL Priority Selection. He has played pro since 2007-08 in the SPHL, France’s Ligue Magnus, FHL and CHL.