It is rare in hockey writing or blogging that an article or decision one makes catches and galvanizes the attention of not just those who read it, but a whole country.
It is rarer still that a piece or decision can galvanize a whole country on the other side of the world.
But that's what we've inadvertently managed to do the past few weeks with Chowder's decision to throw ourselves into the Australian Ice Hockey League this summer.
After a fan poll that swept the AIHL and received the most votes we've ever had in such a poll by a truly huge margin - after countless retweets, a team poster campaign, flowcharts, and passionate selling by every single AIHL team and their fanbases, this week Chowder staff confronted the hardest task in this adventure yet - making a decision. Now, we announce that decision.
Before we announce - a very quick idea of how we picked.
Essentially, the staff rated every team on a scale of 0-5 in a private poll. We all had our own criteria and favourites, and this seemed the fairest way to give every team a chance. The poll results were taken into account in the vote, as were the passion of teams and their fanbases on social media. The team with the highest number of rating points won.
However...there was a problem. We couldn't pick just one.
The AIHL has blown us away. So much so that we're now trying to get other SBN blogs involved. Pension Plan Puppets are already on board in Toronto - and need your help too. This is a league in which EVERY team deserves its coverage, and if there's any way we can help them get it, we will. So if your team isn't picked, don't see it as a failure. See it as a first step. A beginning. You've already done a hell of a job being noticed, and others are starting to see you as a result of your efforts here, too.
But enough of this. You want a decision, don't you?
In the midst of passionate discussions ranging from the joy and proud underdog story of the CBR Brave and how it deserved to be rewarded to the fast-emerging favourite player of Chowder staff (Wehebe Darge in Adelaide) to the similarity of the Melbourne Ice to the NY Yankees and the attractions of picking a team sharing a bear identity in Sydney, two favourites emerged. Two teams that we simply couldn't separate. Two teams that even received EXACTLY the same number of points in the staff voting.
Well, with something like that, there's only one decision to make.
So we picked both.
Stanley Cup Of Chowder is proud to announce that it will be adopting not one, but TWO AIHL teams for the Goodall Cup Of Chowder this season.
And here they are.
TEAM 1: MELBOURNE MUSTANGS
Hockey fans of the world, as of today, we are Mustangs. Melbourne Mustangs. Which means we're adopting the player described to us by many very simply as "the AIHL Bergeron", Patrick O'Kane. Saint Patrice, meet Saint Patrick:
The 'Stangs were the first team to reach out to us, and impressed us with their fans' dedication and tales of O'Kane's majesty. When a player is sold to you by many fans as "The Aussie League Bergeron" you sit up and take notice. But there was another team that we couldn't ignore. The second team at the top. And of course, given their fans' sales pitches, there was only one way we could announce them.
SCoC's second team in the Goodall Cup Of Chowder is:HLYmvln.0.html
TEAM 2: NEWCASTLE NORTH STARS.
We have to admit, these guys won us again due to their fanbase...but if the team itself is going to organise a poster campaign ON ITS OFFICIAL WEBSITE, that is going to catch a lot of eyes. We genuinely couldn't believe it when we found out about it. We're still not sure we can, in fact.
So there you are. The decision is made. Chowder will be following, supporting and writing as many pieces as we can on both the Mustangs and the North Stars this summer. We're excited as hell about it.
But don't forget - if your team isn't one of these two, we'll still be watching. Still be pushing your names for other SBN blogs to cover. Our ideal is to have all eight teams adopted by an SBN NHL blog this season.
For now, though...we have our teams, for better or worse.
GO 'STANGS. GO 'STARS!
And go, AIHL.
The Goodall Cup Of Chowder officially starts here.