The Australian Hockey League’s (AHL), widely recognized reputation as one of the world’s strongest and most competitive national leagues shows no sign of disappearing as the 2008 men’s tournament commences this weekend in Canberra, Australia.

And with the OAMPS Queensland Blades, led by Kookaburras Jamie Dwyer and Mark Knowles, looking to create history by becoming the first team in men’s AHL history to win three championships in a row, the 2008 men’s tournament is sure be a fast n’ furious event.

Running over a two week period from February 25 – 8 March in Canberra, there will be no shortage of talent standing in the way of the Blades and AHL history, with the SmokeFree WA Thundersticks looking to get revenge from last years final loss to the Blades.

The six other state teams will also be looking to spoil the Blades’ party, with the Northpharm NT Stingers, Canberra Labor Club Lakers, MIA Tassie Tigers and the Southern Hotshots eager to add the AHL championship to their trophy cabinet for the first time.

While team success will be the overall objective at the AHL, the two week tournament also provides a vital stepping stone for those looking to impress national coach Barry Dancer. Olympic squad selection will be made at the conclusion of the tournament, so fans can expect to see players holding nothing back as they attempt to lead their teams to national glory.

“The Kookaburras recently competed in a 5-nation tournament in South Africa where we took a relatively inexperienced team with the purpose of giving them an opportunity to impress and stake a claim for inclusion in the Olympic squad. Despite fielding a young team we won the tournament, with a number of players stepping up and showing their talent. The AHL now provides a critical opportunity for all players competing in the two week tournament to catch the eye of national selectors and further stake their claim for Olympic squad selection,” said Dancer.

At the same time, Dancer says he expects to see the more experienced Kookaburra players who didn’t compete in the 5 nation tournament to be in perfect shape for the tournament after having a few months away from competitive international hockey.

“A few of the more experienced Kookaburra players did not compete at the 5 nation tournament so they were given an opportunity to prepare for the AHL. So I would expect these players to be playing some of their best hockey at this years’ AHL.”

Source: Hockey Australia