As I looked down on the ice and saw the surname, “Dahlberg” on the back of player number twenty-seven, I thought for a moment I could have been in Stockholm. Except for the fact I’ve never actually seen an ice-hockey match played in Sweden. In fact, this was my first ever ice-hockey match, and the man called Dahlberg was playing for “Melbourne Ice”, playing the “Sydney Bears” at the ice-hockey rink located inside the shopping centre opposite Sydney’s Macquarie University.
My discovery of the ice-hockey scene in Australia is only a recent one. Quite by accident, I discovered there’s a “Sweden Day” at a forthcoming ice-hockey match in Melbourne. As I was already planning to be in Melbourne on the day, and as the match was being played at the O’Brien Arena, I felt it was “fate” that I should attend.
As I began to dig deeper, I also discovered there was a “Pride Match” being played this weekend. “Pride Matches” are becoming popular in Australian sports, partly to make up for all of the homophobia which has been evident in many sports. There were lots of rainbow flags, an opening speech highlighting some of the issues faced by LGBTQI people, and a brief appearance by the first trans woman to appear in the Australian ice-hockey league.
My friend who came with me is much more into sport than I am. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, but I did. The match was fast, and we were both amazed by the all-round skills and athleticism of the players.
It was genuinely good entertainment. For only $20 entry, it really was a terrific way to spend over two hours late this afternoon. I’m looking forward to the match in Melbourne, and I think I’ll probably come back to further matches in Sydney. And of course, if I have to pick a team, it will be the Sydney Bears.