Page 3937 - Week 12 - Thursday, 29 October 2015

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Ice hockey

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.53): Tonight I would like to acknowledge ice hockey in the ACT. It is one of Australia’s fastest growing sports, increasing its participation by 40 per cent since 2008, and its attendance has grown by about 25 per cent every year. I need to declare a conflict of interest. I have been a skating mum for 20 years or more.

In 2000 the Australian Ice Hockey League was formed with three teams—the Sydney Bears, the Adelaide Avalanche and the Canberra Knights. The team roster has now grown to eight, but the Knights were replaced, after they folded, by the Canberra Brave in 2012. The Brave, like any good anchor tenant, has been at the core and centre of ice hockey in the ACT. The Brave are recognised as competitive on a national level and they have reached the semi-finals, despite poor facilities, in the last two years.

Canberra has a grand total of one ice skating rink. The rink has to accommodate more than 12 teams in addition to providing a place for public recreation as well as providing for figure skaters and people who participate in broomball. Ice hockey teams in Canberra need to share the rink for training as well as playing games. My own son, as well as being a hockey player, is a coach of one of the growing number of women’s teams and has said to me that there are times when his team gets ice time only for games and they do not get any ice time for practice.

The fact that our national team has managed to make the semi-final with such limited ice time and with such limited facilities says a lot about the potential for Canberra. If the Brave had the facilities that other teams have, they would be more than competitive on a continuing basis, and they would have a possibility of taking the championship in the next few years.

The lack of adequate ice facilities does not only lessen Canberra’s chance of winning a national title but we also have a possibility of actually losing out because of the poor facilities that we have. Already in Queensland the league has been diminished because of the lack of suitable venues. This cannot happen in Canberra. If it were not for the Brave and the public support for the game, a great many people would be missing out on the excitement that is ice hockey.

I recall that I attended a game recently—it might have been one of last year’s games—and can attest to the chanting of “New rink! New rink!” as the minister for sport went out to drop the puck before a Brave game.

We have over-utilised facilities which present a range of risks to competition players, others who are involved in ice sport and the general public. Instead of safety glass protecting the public from the puck that is standard in most arenas, we have a net. Only last Saturday, when I attended the bronze medal play off for the B-grade team, won by the Blades—go Tom!—a small child narrowly missed being hit by a flying puck.

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