I must admit I found my first experience watching ice hockey live quite confronting. At the Philip Ice Rink, it’s as close as you can get to a sport. The game itself appeared to have few rules with players piling in on top of each other. It’s fast, and at times, extremely physical. It was great! When I first experienced ice hockey as a spectator, it was in the days of the Canberra Knights with the team featuring the Harrow brothers.
Fast forward to my latest encounter with the Canberra team in the Australian Ice Hockey League; the Knights had morphed into the Canberra Brave.
Again, the team features brothers; the Harrows have been replaced by the Kubaras.
Last year there were four Kubara brothers, with Tyler, Toby, Bayley and Casey. This season, as the team heads to the playoffs as the minor premiers, there are three brothers remaining in the team. Toby is heading home to Wollongong, although he also spends time in Townsville as part of his role with the Australian Defence Force.
There have been times in their ice hockey lives when Australian teams have been reluctant to have all four brothers on the rink at any one time. That was certainly the case for the Sydney Ice Dogs before they all headed to the Brave. Those days are well and truly over with the brothers finding a home in Canberra. Away from the rink, they live in the so-called ‘import house’ at Lyons.
Tyler, who is the eldest of the brothers, is adamant in his desire that from now on they stick together. He says, “I reckon from now on we come as a package deal; it’s just a lot of fun.”
So there you have it; no more playing against each other in Australia at least but enjoying playing side by side. When they head to the United States in the off-season it is a different story as they join different teams.
Not that the Canberra Brave are complaining. The brothers have been one of the driving forces behind Canberra’s dominance in the National League, wrapping up the minor premiership, and that’s with five games remaining before the finals!
Bailey, who is the youngest of the trio, says playing alongside his brothers is special: “I think it’s a little bit extra motivation to help each other out and support each other out there.”
Playing against each other in the streets as kids have led to an instinctive understanding of each other. Tyler says, “You have a sense of where they are going to be before they even get there”.
The Brave will be relying on those combinations as they head towards the playoffs as the favourites to win Canberra’s first Australian Ice Hockey League title. After years of struggling with the Knights, many in the Canberra ice hockey community have now become familiar with success, with the Brave just falling short of winning the title last year.
Canberra won the East Coast competition in the late 1990s but has never won the National League, nor the Australian Ice Hockey League.
There is a sense of history in the making and it is led by three brothers, all motivated by the fact they are playing alongside each other.