The Canberra Brave's remarkable ice hockey turnaround from a folded franchise two years ago to regular finals contenders is set to be rewarded with a state of the art home in the capital
Ice hockey in Canberra appeared doomed in 2014 when the Canberra Knights folded a month before the Australian Ice Hockey League season.
Fast forward three seasons and the Brave will play in their third consecutive finals campaign when they clash against the Melbourne Ice in Melbourne on Saturday.
The club regularly sell more than 1000 tickets at home games and have to turn away fans because the stands are full.
But ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr made an election commitment on Thursday to use $75,000 to start planning for a new venue in Tuggeranong if Labor wins the election in October.
The announcement caps off a stunning effort to restore the capital as a competitive ice hockey city after Knights owner John Raut declared the end of the club in 2014.
"It really secures our future," said Brave director Warren Apps.
"It allows us to have different conversations in terms of the playing roster because often the facilities we work with are one of the reasons we don't attract the kind of players we might like to."
The Brave has been based at the Phillip Swimming and Ice Skating Centre since 1981, but the facility affectionately known as "The Brave Cave" doesn't match the standard set by the rest of the AIHL.
"We compete in other cities on Olympic size ice, it's smaller here, probably about 75 per cent of the size," Apps said.
"There are also player safety issues and those things are key considerations for professional players."
Former NHL prospect, Canadian import Geordie Wudrick, is in his first season with the Brave but is astonished at what the organisation has done.
"It's amazing to watch that growth and what you can do with passionate owners and especially passionate fans," Wudrick said.
"The things the new organisation have been doing, it's pretty incredible to see how quickly you can turn things around."
Winger Casey Kubara, 20, says the community played a vital role in rebuilding the Canberra franchise and the players are repaying their work.
"When the Brave started it was the community pulling it together and they're a big part of what we do and how we do it," Kubara said.
"It's pretty special to see when we're out there on game day and everyone turns up and everybody is having fun and they love it and we're just happy to put a smile on their face."
Barr made the announcement in Tuggeranong surrounded by ice hockey players, figure skaters and broomball officials, who all said a new ice house was essential for Canberra.
Minister for sport and recreation Yvette Berry said the total cost of the facility is yet to be determined.
"The first part of this will be a $75,000 consultation and conversation package," Berry said. "I wouldn't want to talk about the [total] cost of the facility because we'll be going into conversations with potential partners."
AUSTRALIAN ICE HOCKEY LEAGUE
Saturday: Semi Finals - Melbourne Ice vs CBR Brave at Melbourne, 3pm.