Newcastle takes out ice hockey finals

Newcastle takes out ice hockey finals

For the second year in a row the Newcastle North Stars have taken out the Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) finals.

Hosted at the O’Brien Group Arena in Docklands on August 28, Newcastle defeated the Canberra Brave 2-1.

Canberra Brave had earlier defeated local team Melbourne Ice 4-3 during the semi-finals on August 27.

Docklands News caught up with Melbourne Ice players and Docklands residents Matt Armstrong and Tommy Powell last month, ahead of the finals weekend.

Both were feeling positive in the lead-up to the finals, with the team sitting on the top of the ladder.

Melbourne Ice lost last year’s final to the Newcastle North Stars in an overtime penalty shoot out last year, but the pair said this wasn’t on their minds in the lead-up to the finals.

“We’re not thinking about last year at all, we have a fair few new faces this year so that gives us a bit of spark,” Mr Powell said.

Mr Powell has been playing for Melbourne Ice for 12 years, while Mr Armstrong joined Melbourne Ice in 2010.

Both live in Docklands and work at the O’Brien Group Arena, meaning they spend plenty of time in the area.

Mr Armstrong is the arena’s ice hockey development manager and says he has seen local interest in the sport grow.

“We both coach here at the ice hockey academy and started out with three classes, now we have eight classes on the ice and four classes off the ice,” Mr Armstrong said. “We see over 2500 students over four terms.”

At the same time, crowds are packing out the arena to catch the Melbourne Ice players in action.

“We’ve been at capacity for a lot of our home games,” Mr Armstrong said.

While both players initially moved to Docklands to live near O’Brien Group Arena, they both say they’ve come to love the area.

Previously living in Bentleigh, near the Oakleigh ice rink, Mr Powell said he now wouldn’t live anywhere else.

“It’s a really cruisy and relaxed area. As soon as it hits the evening or weekend it’s so quiet,” he said.

Originally from Canada, Mr Armstrong was playing professionally in Europe before he joined the Melbourne Ice team in 2010.

“I didn’t think I was going to be here for six years and now I’m still here and just got permanent residency,” Mr Armstrong said.

“I love living in Docklands,” Mr Armstrong said. “It’s so nice and quiet, you can walk anywhere and it’s so easy to get around with the trams.”

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