Ahead of the new-look Hockey One competition which is set to take the Australian hockey scene by storm later this year, ACT Hockey launched its new national league team today: Canberra Chill.
Initially reported in October last year, the new Hockey One league will take after Cricket Australia's highly successful Big Bash franchise, with eight city-based teams instead of state sides and a host of new rules to make the game more appealing to fans new and old.
Some of the new rules were introduced at last year's Australian Hockey League, including a field goal conversion rule and pump plays, where teams were restricted to nine players instead of 11 for the last five minutes of a quarter of their choice.
A statement put out by Hockey ACT this morning said that Hockey One "represents a major shift for Hockey in Australia as a re-imagined elite domestic league and entertainment product that puts fans first, with a new concept, new format, new club identities, new rule innovations and new access for fans with three home matches for every club."
Queanbeyan's Lewis McLennan, who was a part of the Canberra Lakers' lineup in last year's Australian Hockey League, believes that the competition will give hockey fans greater access to the domestic leagues.
"Australia's been number one in hockey for a lot of years now and not a lot of people know it," McLennan said.
"It's time for lower-level players, it's their time to show us what they've got instead of [fans] just watching the main 20 players of the Australian team to play each week.
"It's a good time for young players and up-and-coming players to show us what they've got on a national screen."
Along with the new uniforms and rules, Hockey Australia has confirmed that online streaming service Kayo Sports will show games live while Fox Sports will broadcast the finals.
The higher level of exposure for the Hockey One tournament will only be a positive for hockey in Canberra, McLennan said.
"It is very exciting," he said.
"We've trialed these rules over the last year or two, so the rules don't quite worry us too much.
"The exposure now to the audiences, and we're now out on Foxtel and Kayo, we're just trying to get the game more noticed and I think it's a really positive step for hockey here in Canberra."
Hockey ACT CEO Gavin Hunt explained in the statement the rationale behind Canberra's new identity.
"The team's identity pays homage to Canberra and the surrounding Capital Region, the landscape, climate and the way the Canberra region plays hockey. The team logo and colours are loud, bold and innovative, which is exactly how the Canberra Chill will play hockey," Chill said.