Dangling by a thread …

My hockey career ...

As I sit here, typing this, my hockey career, such as it is, is dangling by the proverbial thread.

Since 9 am, I have only left my desk for one daring coffee run. Otherwise, I have been hitting refresh on Firefox over and over and over again: the target being the Ice Hockey enrolment page on the Icehouse website.

In fact, let’s call it by its full name for once: The Medibank Icehouse, because our home of hockey is performing in such an underwhelming manner right now that its sponsor should know about it.

The tension started a week or so ago when an email went out, alerting Melbourne’s ever-growing army of hockey players in training that the number of classes for Term One of this year had been slashed. No more Tuesday or Saturday classes. Huh? What?

Only one Intro for Adults on Wednesday night, plus one Intermediate, and then a couple of development league hours (the last of which starts at the helpful time of 11.15 pm, running until 12.15 am).

So basically, the several hundred hockey students are now fighting for one of maybe 30 spots in each of one Intro and one Intermediate class, and then one worknight-friendly Dev league timeslot.

Nice work, Medibank Icehouse. Way to try and kill the sport just as it gains momentum.

But now it gets better, because Monday (as in two days ago) was enrolment day, then that got pushed to yesterday and then to today. Which meant I, and most of my Hockey Rookie friends (going by the very entertaining and robust Facebook discussion that has been occurring for the past two hours) were at our desks or poised over other mobile devices, ready to hit ENROL at 9.00 am and one second.

Except that the Icehouse site didn’t change.

And then a message went up saying please don’t refresh the Hockey School page until after 10 am because of technical issues. And so we all bantered and sweated and hit Refresh endlessly until a new message went up at 10.30 am, saying please don’t hit refresh for 30 minutes.

And that was 10 minutes ago, and now I’m considering re-starting nail-biting, or taking up smoking, or sniffing glue or whatever else I need to do to ease this tension.

What if I’m not one of the 30 to hit ENROL in time to make it into Intermediate, or Dev League?

What if all my Rookie mates, in Intro and higher levels, are frozen out of the classes by this Icehouse dickheadness?

Why is it harder for us to pay good money to the Icehouse – allegedly the home of Australia’s winter Olympic sports – to keep learning our sport than it is to get falls Festival tickets?

We’ve all noticed for a while that hockey is taking a pounding by unsubtle must-try-to-make-money Icehouse initiatives. Something is clearly going on in the finance department there that has nothing to do with a commitment to the sport or the students who have swollen the Icehouse hockey classes over the last 12 months.

The word on the street is that Government funding has been withdrawn and the Icehouse owners (a Grollo company) are all-systems-go to raise revenue, not grow ice-based sports. Hence broomball, and ice tubing, and other novelty ice events, ahead of ice time for serious athletes (Yes, I’m including us in that category. Bite me.)

And so in half an hour, because of this crap management and decision-making at the venue, I might be frozen out of classes (pun intended). Or headed to Melbourne’s only other rink, at Oakleigh, to train with Melbourne Ice player Joey Hughes. Or charging Grollo HQ, covered in chicken blood and armed with a butter knife.

Anything is possible at this point.

I’m writing this post now, before I either get in, or don’t get in, to remember how freaked out everybody, including me, was as the wait continued (and a working day evaporated … and yes, I do actually have a lot to do. Thanks, Icehouse.)

The good news in all this? The Facebook banter between the brotherhood and sisterhood has been golden.

The bad news? The people in charge of providing rinks and education for us seem hell bent on ensuring we can’t take that bond onto the ice, where it belongs.

OK. Back to the Refresh …


The Red Wings hear that Kittens and I got into our chosen classes ...

LATE BREAKING NEWS: Finally got into the Icehouse system and booked my spots, and Will’s (aka Kittens). Intermediate and Dev League (unless somebody misses out and needs a spot). Crazy morning. Stupid Icehouse. But huzzah, we’re in! This blog will definitely benefit from not having me sitting on the sidelines, with no hockey.





  1. Josh Featherston says:

    I’m edging closer and closer to not caring anymore. I, like most other people waiting to sign-up, am being paid to be productive and I’m practically crippled by this debacle at the Icehouse. So frustrating. Good stuff, Nicko!

    • Thanks, Josh … Hang in there. Hopefully, once we get through today’s dickheadery (my word, just invented), we can get back on the ice and into what we want to do. Beers at the Harbourside, shake our heads and laugh it off.

  2. Theresa Neate says:

    What a ridiculous morning this has been. We were all so panicked about the reduced hockey lessons, and so we got up early, used our phones where we could, and did whatever it took to get onto that registration page early. And what did we find? The page was down! After several unproductive work hours trying to refresh find backdoors into hockey school registration, the site finally goes up and we frantically register (or try to), but then the site crashes again. Good god Icehouse, what are you smoking?? Reduced hockey lessons? An amateur registration page? What on earth??

  3. Nice article in the Detroit News, Nick.

    Perhaps your return voyage to the D should be New Year’s Day, 2013:


    • Hi John. Thanks for reading the piece. My boys and I are already hatching plans to try and get to the Winter Classic if it’s in town. The home team usually loses anyway, right, so nobody can blame us if it goes wrong …

      • Luckily, the Wings won’t truly be at home if the game is played in Ann Arbor — which probably has more in common with Toronto than Detroit these days.

        Hope you’re able to make it, and if you do, I am sure that all of your new-found friends in Michigan will introduce you to “tailgaiting” — an American football ritual in which fans hang out in the parking lot for hours before a game with amazing spreads of food and booze.

        And you can find a flat white at this coffee bar in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood (in the shadows of the Michigan Central train station): http://astrocoffeedetroit.blogspot.com/

      • Seriously? A genuine flate white? 🙂

        Tailgating looks way cool.

  4. Kevin G from Hartland says:

    Just a quick shout out from a HockeyTown subburb. Saw your article in the Detroit News today and was captivated by the concept of Aussies being huge Wings fans. So I had to cruise by your site, saw how you got hooked, browsed some more, and thought I had to leave a note. Way cool. And nightmareonhelmstreet.com is freaking awesome. Keep spreading the Red Wings cornbread (if you understand the cornbread reference I will be truly amazed!)

    • OK, I didn’t get the cornbread … damn! What have I missed?

      I love nightmareonhelmstreet (inspired name!) and The Production Line and Winging It in Motown … I read them all.
      Thanks for writing, and reading the blog, Kevin. Go Wings!

  5. Jim Komoroski says:


    I just read your article in the Detroit News about your trip to Detroit. I’m glad you had a good time. I aploigize for our weather and urban decay, but that’s also part of our charm. We try to make up for it byu being overly nice to visitors. I have seen the Wings in Boston, MSG, Tampa, Buffalo, Denver, Philly, and I’ve got a trip to Vancouver at the end of the month. We travel well and our fans are awesome (or total assholes depending on who you talk to). I’m assuming you heard about the Winter Classic against the Leafs at the Big House in Ann Arbor. I was there for the outdoor game between Michigan/Mich State last year and it was awesome. If you think you might make it back next year, that is the one you want to go to. There will be over 110,000 there, it will be a sight to see. Take care & Go Wings!


  6. With a sister at the Detroit News, and a grandfather who worked at the Marquette prison (I’m currently working on figuring out the years; he was close to the exhibition game) your writing has certainly struck a chord with me.

    I applaud your determination, and have enjoyed finding your blog. Having played hockey since I can remember, (I was 4, 22 years ago, when I first played on a team in an outdoor rink) I look forward to following your adventure on the ice.

    • Hey there. Thanks for writing and your kind words. Since really connecting with hockey, as a Wings fan and now as a rookie player, it has certainly been an adventure. I’m still deeply in love with it all. I’m a long time journo so give a shout out to your sister as a fellow media type. And I’m glad your grandfather sounds like he’s on the right side of the bars at Marquette. (I only know that jail from Elmore Leonard novels 🙂


  1. […] is enrolment day, which remains probably the most traumatic day of the entire hockey calendar, pre-term. It’s the day where all of Melbourne’s hockey students have to poise, finger […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: