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Thursday, 2 July 2015

Book Review: Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie

Reality Check: Travels In The Australian Ice Hockey League by Will Brodie
Published by Combiner Publishing – 326 Pages
ISBN: 978-06469320-4-0

Here’s an interesting book about our favourite sport – ice hockey – in Australia. Yes - they do play it down under and I knew that already as Team GB has played Australia in the past in World Championships.

Also the Peterborough Pirates (that’s Peterborough, England – not Peterborough, Victoria or Peterborough, South Australia, by the way..) once had a player called John Oddy who had come over from the Adelaide Avalanche club and, after a quick flick through the index of Reality Check, I discover that there is a Greg Oddy who is the current captain of the modern day Adelaide Adrenaline club - so there must be some sort of family connection there.

What Will Brodie sets out to in this book is to follow the Australian Ice Hockey League through a complete season and it starts in January 2014 just as preparations for the new campaign are getting under way (more about this in a bit..).

I haven’t read all of this book as yet as it is quite a substantial read and I am currently trying to get the 2015 Ice Hockey Review NIHL Yearbook ready for publication but the bits that I have read so far have been fascinating.   

For example, matches in the AIHL are played over 2x 15 minute period and 1 x 20 minute period.  Apparently, this is to save costs on ice time although as every drawn game in decided by a penalty shootout at the end, I would have thought that the time taken to do that would negate any times saved by having shorter periods. Anyway, it’s their league…!

Another interesting fact is that NOBODY GETS PAID in the AIHL – not players, not coaches, not administrators, nobody. There are sponsorship deals and such things that help with accommodation, cars etc. for major players but apart from that, everything is done on  apart time voluntary basis and that means that games are played purely at weekends.

Despite the fact that the AIHL is not awash with cash, the league still manages to attract a decent level of overseas player to play there – and many of them just go for the love of the game and the opportunity of spending some time in Australia. The other bonus is that the Aussie season runs from April to September (that’s their winter…) so it coincides almost exactly with the close season of the semi-pro leagues in North America.  Therefore players can go and play for a season in Oz thus helping their keep up their fitness levels and match sharpness.

It is written in the form of a diary and Will travels across the country covering the various AIHL clubs and talking to all sorts of fascinating people on the way.  Now: if you are looking for book full of stats and figures, this is not it – but if you’d like a leisurely read through how they run and play ice hockey on another continent, then this book is definitely for you.

And to bring the story up to date, Will Brodie will be contributing an article on the 2015 AIHL season to this year’s Ice Hockey Review Yearbook as well.

In the meantime, you can keep up with Will’s various projects on his own website at www.willbrodie.com and you can buy Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League by following the link   HERE