When it comes to sport, Australia clearly likes to be a bit of a special snowflake. While getting into a rabid, sometimes-alcohol-induced, frenzy is a universal phenomenon for sports fans all over the world – the sports that others love, we could care less about. Basketball? For the yanks. Baseball? Why not watch cricket? And hockey? What, like the Kookaburras?
But slowly we’re seeing Australia, with its treasure trove of die-hard sports fans, join in on international sports fever, with the arrival of not only Major League Baseball earlier this year, but also the return of International Ice Hockey. Where baseball is “the gentlemen’s game”, ice hockey is a puck to the back of the head. The series will bring back to our sunny shores both professional ice hockey sportsmanship of the highest calibre and a venerable intercontinental grudge between USA and Canada (no doubt exacerbated by Canada’s win last year, and Canada’s gold medal wins at Sochi). The two teams will battle it out for the Douglas Webber Cup and the title of International Ice Hockey 2014 champions.
Returning is captain Zenon Konopka of the Minnesota Wild (NHL), who leads an all-star USA team including St. Louis Blues (NHL) player Ian Cole, Dennis McCauley of European league Italy Serie A, and Australia’s own Nathan Walker – the first Aussie to have made it in the AHL. Team Canada will also see the return of captain Kyle Quincey of the Detroit Red Wings (NHL), who plays alongside Ottawa Senators' (NHL) Matt Kassian, Reading Royals' (ECHL) Josh Brittain, Springfield Falcons' (AHL) Dallas Jackson, and more.
Aussie reception to last year’s exhibition series was hardly icy; two of the three shows in Sydney and Melbourne sold out. With all the players now confirmed and ready to rumble, this year’s tour will no doubt prove to be a ‘pucking’ cool one.