HISTORY OF ICE HOCKEY IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA
Well, Ice Hockey in South Australia certainly has come a long way since the early 1960's! With the first games being played at the St Moritz Skating Rink in Hindley Street, where not only did you compete against the other team, but you also had to negotiate the steel supports for the roof that came right up to the edge of the rink.......... and they had no mercy on players from either team!
The Tigers and Magpies played the inaugural game in way back on the 21st of May 1964 with the Tigers coming out victors in 11 - 4, in what was a game that changed the direction of ice sports in South Australia. Maple Leafs were the 1964 Premiers after entering the competition halfway through the season and taking the competition by storm.
The first Ice Hockey Association in South Australia was named the St Moritz Ice Hockey Club due to the rinks ownership and their relationship with the St Moritz Rink in Melbourne. The South Australian Ice Hockey Association was started in 1966 and took on the roll as governing body for Ice Hockey in our State.
1979 saw the opening of the all new Olympic size rink at Payneham and things never looked so good for Ice Hockey, with the first season of play in 1980!
Clubs now had the opportunity to train and play on the large ice, which opened the doors for Junior Development and Overseas players to come and play at a local level. This was a whole new era for S.A and the start of our State becoming a National force on the Australian Ice Hockey scene, with the introduction of the Payneham Flyers and the success of State Teams at National Tournaments at all levels around the country.
1982 was another milestone year for Ice Hockey with the opening (1981) of a second ripper rink at Thebarton and its NHL size rink surrounded by a Speed Skating Track, flash spectator viewing areas and all the latest and greatest Ice Rink features, South Australia had something that no other State in Australia had!!
2 Rinks in South Australia would give the sport opportunities to grow, with The Falcons and Redwings moving West to Thebarton at their new home and the inter-rink rivalry era had begun!
Years rolled on and we lost the Payneham Rink to financial pressures and all 4 Clubs were back together again at Thebbie! The rink configuration changed, the Speed Skating Track disappeared to make way for the "Indoor Ski Slope" and Ice Hockey was to go through another transformation!
Since then the B Grade competition grew to have 9 teams representing the 4 Clubs and included the introduction of a new Club, the "Jokers". A Summer League C Grade competition was also introduced and grew rapidly to 18 teams bringing lots of new blood to Ice Hockey.
Plenty of "older players" still wanted to play but realising that their bodies weren't quite in Hockey mode like their brains were, got together and started the "Vintage Reds" Oldtimers League. These players still travel Australia and abroad in search of their Ice Hockey dreams.
A lot has changed over the last 50 or so years and now here we are in 2017 with word of new rinks to be built in the near future and Ice Hockey in South Australia facing its biggest opportunities for growth in its short but eventful history.
If you want to be part of the future of Ice Hockey, or you are a part of our history, join us and help make the best sport in the world even better!!
Thanks for taking the time to read a small snippet about our history!