The Australia Ice Hockey League will decide its 15th playoff champion this upcoming weekend. The eight team league culminates the 2014 season with the top four teams competing in a single knockout tournament to decide who will be crowned. Over the 28 game regular season, two Ontario Hockey League grads took the first two spots in the scoring race. Simon Barg led the league with 69 points over 26 games while Stephen Blunden finished second with 62 points over 21 games.
2014 marked Barg’s (pictured) second year in the AIHL and the second year with the Sydney Ice Dogs. Simon played 26 of the team’s 28 games, totalling 69 points on 23 goals and 46 assists. His assist total also led the league. Barg will help the Ice Dogs go after their second straight championship this weekend.
Barg played two years in the OHL, 2001-02 and 2002-03, both with the Barrie Colts. Undrafted to the OHL or NHL, Simon played four years of OUA hockey with the University of Toronto Blues from 2003-04 to 2006-07. Before arriving in Australia for the 2013 season, Simon played since 2007-08 in the lower tiers in Germany and Italy.
Blunden joined CBR Brave of the AIHL after finishing up his fourth year with the University of Ottawa Gee Gees. He played for Ottawa from 2010-11 to 2013-14. The team has suspended operations for the 2014-15 season. Stephen finished second in the AIHL with 62 points while playing just 21 of 28 regular season games. His 32 goals by far led the AIHL.
Stephen played four years in the Ontario Hockey League from 2005-06 to 2008-09 with the Belleville Bulls and Ottawa 67’s. He was a sixth round pick by Belleville at the 2005 OHL Priority Selection, 108th overall. He was traded to Ottawa eleven games into the 2008-09 season. Blunden played in two games for the Bulls at the 2008 Memorial Cup tournament.
The eight team league has been in existence since 2000. Each team plays a 28 game regular season schedule over the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months. The Melbourne Mustangs placed first overall for the 2014 season and will face off against the defending champion Sydney Ice Dogs in one of two semi-final games this weekend. In the other matchup, it’s Stephen Blunden and CBR Brave against the Melbourne Ice.
Since 2000, Both the Newcastle North Stars and Melbourne Ice have won the most Goodall Cup championships with three apiece.
For video and live streaming for the ever-improving league, there is a main directory page at the official website that you need to check out: AIHL Video. I believe it’s possible to stream the playoff games this upcoming weekend but the games will be in the middle of the night for those in North America wanting to check out the product.