If one ignores the lack of naturally frozen surfaces in our country, Ice Hockey seems to be an incredibly Australian sport. Not only is it fast and highly skilled, but the players routinely flatten each other into the ice, the boards and often each other.
Well They’re a unique bunch to say the least. Through out the season I’ve had the chance to get to know the team, on and off the ice. From the too cool Tyrone Garner, who lists his biggest secret as being a black hockey player and finds Kangaroos extremely exciting, to the extremely talkative Josh Sands, the only player to have his name on a seat in the penalty box, the team covers both ends of the spectrum. The team’s youngest member, Alex Hall, a scrawny blonde kid who looks like he’d be more at home in the water rather than on the ice, plays on the Australian Youth Team as does his Brisbane teammate and the team’s back-up goalie, Brenton Cooney.
The team hail from all over as well, many coming here for a season or two from Canada, while others having come to Australia, never left, ending up Australian citizens as well as members of the Bluetongues. Occasional goalie Milan Novysedlak hails from Slovakia and now a permanent citizen is helping grow hockey within the area, training local players into the Bluetongues of the future.
Mike Gough (reportedly the long lost brother of Team Captain Mark Rummakinen) was born here in Australia, but grew up in Canada, where he learnt the game, playing at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, where he shared a line with Jon Kress, another Canadian member of the team.
The pride of the Bluetongues this season however, is Matt Amado, a graduate of Notre Dame College in Indiana. The league leading scorer, 23 year old Amado who hails from Langley in British Columbia, was third in team scorer last season with the Chicago Hounds of the UHL. It hasn’t taken Amado long though to settle in here in Australia, providing a one two punch with Martin Pacquet that many teams are finding hard to combat.
Within Australian players, the team features Mark Rummakinen, a Canberra based player who after being sent to Brisbane for work, joined the team here and now flies up for every set of game (the teams home games always played in sets of two due to the distance travelling team’s must cover). He also reports for duty on a regular basis as a member of the Australian Ice Roo’s (now coached by ex-NHL’er Steve McKenna another Canadian who arrived and never left).
There’s so much more that could be said about this motely crew such as their love of simpsons marathons on the road, Mark Smith’s wicked sense of humor, Johnny Bale and the Las Vegas cap that he matches with everything, Mike Gough’s stomach, and the imported boys love of cheap goon.
But I’ll leave that for another day.
For now, that is the Brisbane Bluetongues, Brisbane’s AIHL team, and the number one team in my heart.