South Australia, Australia - Hockey down under has endured a richly vast history. Established in 1908 as the Australian Ice Hockey Federation (now known as Ice Hockey Australia), the sport has survived two World Wars and maintained its presence on a continent where winter sports have taken a back seat until the last decade. Hockey in Australia is very similar to the way it is in the United States in terms of popularity. People enjoy it, but there are still three other major sports they would rather watch unfortunately. The junior team has not given the Australian people much of a reason to have interest either in their IIHF World U20 Junior Ice Hockey Championship showings. Below are some specifics.
IIHF Record: 18-43-1
2012 Final Results: Division II Group B Fifth Place with 1-4-0 record
Head Coach: Ryan O'Handley (AUS
While hockey has been around for over a century in Australia, their junior team didn't compete internationally until 1983; that's 75 years after the birth of Ice Hockey Australia for those of you who aren't very good at math. The problem though was that in their first 17 years of international competition, they didn't win a single game. Albeit, they took two long sabbaticals that spanned 4 and 13 years, but that explains why the win-loss record is so horrendous.
In the last five years though, this country has made great strides with their junior team. They've hired an all-Australian coaching staff and therefore have their own self-ran brand of hockey, took first place at the 2010 WJHC (a first in National history), and they have maintained their place in Division II Group B play.
The Australians first go at DIIB was not a very good one as they finished 1-4 in 2011. However, China came in last place that year (the only team Australia beat), and so they were able to play there again the following year. 2012 did not go any better though as they finished 1-4 again, beating only Mexico who was then relegated. The problem with the 2012 WJHC though was they lost a significant amount of players from the year before and that lack of veteran presence hurt them.
The 2013 WJHC hopes to be a new chapter in the Australian junior book as they hope to have a better record than last year. They will wave their green, gold, and white flags proud as they represent the Kangaroo in the upcoming tournament where they could be one of this year's happy surprises.
For previous team articles, click the links below
Division III: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75142
New Zealand: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75122
Intro to 2013 WJHC: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75064
Matt Prosser, Featured Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Owner of Fifty8 Productions and freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU1580 Sacramento. For comments and writing ventures e-mail Matt@Fifty8productions.com. Follow on Twitter @MattProsser58 or visit www.kssusportsycle.com.