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After a two-year break due to the pandemic, the Australian Ice Hockey League makes a triumphant return in 2022.
The 2022 season will see the AIHL move to three 20-minute periods. This may not sound like much to some, but Australia has been one of the few locations around the world to play shortened games. This will help massively in preparing our players for the yearly International Ice Hockey Federation international competitions.
This year will also see the introduction of the Brisbane Lightning to the competition as well as the return of the Central Coast Rhinos. Both teams will be playing exhibition games throughout the season with the aim of joining the competition in full in 2023.
They join the existing teams CBR Brave, Melbourne Ice, Melbourne Mustangs, Newcastle Northstars, Sydney Bears and Sydney Ice Dogs.
Sadly, the Perth Thunder and Adelaide Adrenaline have had to pull out of the 2022 season. This is unfortunate news, but I wish the clubs and fans the best and look forward to them being part of the regular competition again next year.
The Brisbane Lightning have already hosted one exhibition match, being visited by the Melbourne Mustangs, who they defeated 6-1 at Boondall Ice World. The Central Coast Rhinos were also visited by AIHL reigning champions Sydney Bears. Despite opening the scoring in the sixth second, the Rhinos went down to the Bears 3-5 in a very entertaining match.
Other preseason games saw the Sydney Bears and Newcastle Northstars face a home-and-away match each, both won by the Northstars.
The 2022 season kicks off this Saturday, 30 April, with the Melbourne Ice hosting the CBR Brave at O’Brien Icehouse. The puck drops at 5pm. The Newcastle Northstars are also playing host to the Melbourne Mustangs at Hunter Ice Skating Stadium, with the puck dropping at 5:30pm.
The Melbourne Ice host the CBR Brave again on Sunday at 2pm at the O’Brien Icehouse, and at 4:30pm the Sydney Bears host the Melbourne Mustangs at Macquarie Ice Arena.
The season lasts until August, with the finals on the first weekend in September at O’Brien Icehouse in Melbourne.