Bleed Orange: not just a catch phrase

When people think of the Melbourne sporting landscape, they often think of Michael Clarke smashing a six for Australia at the MCG, Leo Barry’s mark to seal it for the Sydney Swans on AFL Grand Final day in 2005, Billy Slater speeding down midfield for a runaway try at AAMI Park, or Archie Thompson netting a late winner for the Melbourne Victory. One thing that isn’t well known is the local Ice Hockey scene.

I had been an NHL fan before I even knew the AIHL had existed (lets go Red Wings!!!), and it had been pointed out to me by an integration aide at my high school, suggesting I should go to a Melbourne Ice game, also to see how good this Jamie Bourke bloke was that he kept on raving about.

It was 2010. I wasn’t really interested in hockey at the time. Then the Mustangs came along.

For the first year of Mustang existence, I wasn’t really that up with it. I pretty much just followed the boys on Twitter, Facebook or got results off my integration aide. I knew Robbie (also known as Death) from my local soccer club, and found out he went to Mustangs games. Half way through the 2012 season I asked Death if I could tag along at a Mustangs game to see what all the fuss was about.

My first game was a hell of an experience. It was a midseason game between the Mustangs and Sydney Ice Dogs. I remember walking into the Groove Train pre-game and meeting the Stable boys. I don’t remember much about the game, all I can remember from that game was the first Mustangs goal and the roar of the faithful.

That season was a roller coaster to say the least. What sticks out for me is the game against Newcastle North Stars. The club was on a low after being outplayed by the Melbourne Ice the night before and getting beaten 4-1 the night before. I walked in with no confidence at all, especially as the North Stars were on a record winning streak. What occurred that day was beyond belief. A team that was on an extraordinary losing streak, and seemed to be losing confidence, defied the odds to beat a team top of the table, in the best way possible, an empty netter from Ebs.

The game finished 5-3. The words ‘Bleed orange’ echoed through the Icehouse. All the pride, the joy and the frustration lifted from the shoulders of Mustangs fans, volunteers and players alike the moment that puck went through the empty net. For me that night has to be the greatest moment for the Mustangs in 2012.

2013 looked to start in the worst way possible for the Mustangs. In the practice game, we were three zilch down against the Ice with ten minutes to go in the third period. Enter Adrian Nash and co. Bang, bang, bang and it’s 3 all with 15 seconds to go. What happened from then on is complete euphoria. Smashy takes a shot from the left hand side of Andrew Crowther, it hits the back of the net and Andrew is left laying face down on the ice. Mustangs win.

Along with the pre-season win, there have been many highlights in 2013. Jamie Bourke’s hat trick vs Canberra at home, being three nil down at the start of the third against Sydney Ice Dogs and coming back to win in a shootout or Jon Olthuis’ first star performance against the Ice. Most importantly, throughout all these good times, and some of the bad times, what I look back upon is the time I spend at games, the time that the players take to have a conversation with the fans, because the Melbourne Mustangs aren’t just a hockey club, they are a family.

Bleed orange!!!

Nath Tanner (Legs),

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

About Nath Tanner

A sport lover for as long as I can remember. Born in a kit I reckon!!!! I follow Melbourne Storm in Rugby League, Western Bulldogs in Aussie Rules, Melbourne Victory (A-League) and Liverpool (EPL) in football, Detroit Red Wings (NHL) and Melbourne Mustangs (AIHL) in ice hockey.

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