Hockey Down Under? Ice hockey a hit with Aussies

Aussies already play a handful of rough, intense and high impact sports. Rugby, Rugby League and Aussie Rules Footy just to name a few. But what about Ice Hockey?

Allphones Arena Sydney Game 5

On a recent 5 game tour arranged by the charitable organization, Canada and the USA battled it out for the Douglas Webber Cup and the numbers looked positive. In a country where you’re more likely to die of heat stroke than pneumonia Aussies turned out in their thousands to watch some great hockey. All 5 games were sold out including the 20,000 seater at Allphones arena in Sydney. Tickets weren’t cheap either, going for what you could call Canadian prices, of $74 – $230 a ticket. The USA won the tourney by the way 3-2.

Hockey in Australia is growing, with an 8 team league and a weekly broadcast of a feature game through Fox Sports. However the climate and facilities present the biggest challenge. Sydney, a city of 4.5 Million for example only has 2 indoor rinks. One of which I thankfully grew up next to (Macquarie Ice Rink) which is why I’m able to play (poorly) Div 12 beer league hockey in Calgary.

Macquarie Ice Rink - where I had my 8th Birthday and learned to skate.
Macquarie Ice Rink – where I had my 8th Birthday and learned to skate.

With the Canadian expat community growing in Australia and the population boom, I would hazard a guess that the 8 team league will grow to 12-16 in the next 5 years, but for that to happen there needs to be some serious investment. Should the NHL look to invest at the grass roots to help grow the game? I don’t have the answers, but as an Aussie living in Canada, I see the growth of the game and its popularity in that country moving in the right direction.

Check out some of the promo videos here.

Would you want to see the NHL invest in building hockey up in Australia?