Ipswich’s ice man backs national league
IT will be like a homecoming for Ipswich product Anthony Kimlin when he represents his new Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) side in Brisbane this weekend.
He's been back in Australia less than a week after completing his latest Canadian commitments with Whitby Dunlops.
Kimlin, 26, landed in Sydney and travelled to the rink to play his first two games for the Bears last weekend.
This weekend, the international goaltender will play for the Sydney Bears during the AIHL's double-header series in Brisbane.
The Bears play the Melbourne Ice at 4pm on Saturday at Boondall before a Sunday 3.30pm clash at Acacia Ridge.
Ipswich-born Kimlin is a remarkable story, having played in a number of Canadian leagues and represented Australia more than 20 times after growing up in the Ipswich area.
On a previous visit to Ipswich in 2010, Kimlin displayed his patriotic green and gold helmet, showcasing his national pride playing overseas.
Although still settling into the latest national ice hockey league, the former St Edmund's College student is excited about returning to South East Queensland.
"I grew up playing at both of those rinks (Boondall and Acacia Ridge),'' he said from his new western Sydney base.
"I'm just getting everything set up.''
His previous season was in the Allan Cup Hockey League based in Ontario. He's played for the Whitby Dunlops from 2011, after making his Canadian debut with the Toronto City Blues Midget AA team in 2006.
He was also part of the Australian team that won a gold medal in Division 2 Pool B at last month's world championships in Mexico City. Kimlin made his national debut with the under-18 side in 2007.
Being an established player in Canada, he's keen to help the Australian league expand. That includes plans to build a major ice skating rink at Springfield.
"The league is going well,'' he said. "It's really improved even since I last played, which was 2013.
"It's a bigger community, there's more fans in the game. Being on Fox Sports and bigger sponsors coming and better facilities being built.''
Although the latest national league has just started, Kimlin expects some thrilling duels between the eight teams from NSW, Victoria, the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia.
"It's a very balanced competition, that's for sure,'' Kimlin said.
This year is the first time since 2012 that regular AIHL games will be played in Queensland.
"Ticket sales have been outstandingly strong,'' AIHL Commission Robert Bannerman said.
"There's a real resurgence of passion for ice hockey in Queensland and hopes for a professional ice hockey rink to be developed at the former Masters' site in Springfield".