(Ed. note: Hey guys, so we're trying to do something a little fun with our unusually long offseason by shining some light on hockey down under in the AIHL. We've adopted the CBR Brave as "our team," and am very happy to announce that Ellanor Pavlovich will be joining us to lead the coverage. Ellanor is based in Australia and will help guide us through the action. You can follow her on Twitter @aussiella. Onto the show!)
The Australian Ice Hockey League (AIHL) season consists of only 28 games running from April through September, and with eight games down, we're already one third of the way through the season.
After losing three of the last four games, the question on CBR fans' lips is, "What will it take for the Brave to start winning again?"
This week I spoke with a veteran of the team, a rookie and an import. All three echoed the same point: the Brave are a strong team, but they're only just starting gel as a group. On this year's 24-man roster, six players are imports and seven are new to the team or rookies in the league. Only four are regular defensemen. So, have the coaching staff selected the right players for the team?
With a number of challenges to overcome this season, including three injured players after three games -- mostly from the import players -- a number of forwards are playing out of their regular positions and relying on the veteran players to build the team from the ground up.
One of the veteran players is No. 26 Kai Miettienen, who at only age 20 has already been playing in the league for five years and reached the milestone of having played 100 games in the league. Miettienen is one of the alternate captains this year and has also represented Australia in the IIHF U18 world championships in 2014, so he's been around the block despite his youth.
Miettiene says although there have been a few losses, the team's morale is high and he expects the Brave to make the playoffs as they progress with each training session and game played.
If the Brave's last game (against Perth Thunder) is anything to go by they can still have a good season. The Brave only lost by one goal in the end, and if they can boost their lackluster defense and keep up the pressure of their forwards, the playoffs may still be in sight.