In The Crease: Andrew Hay

Botany Swarm captain Andrew Hay has been a mainstay of the NZIHL from the very beginning, back when they were still known as the South Auckland Swarm.

He’s been rocking the ‘C’ on his chest since the 2007 season, leading the team to four championship seasons in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2011. This year he will likely hit the illustrious 200 game mark to cap off an incredible career in New Zealand.

But none of that compares to being stuck ‘In The Crease’ with goalie/scientist Joel ‘Dr J’ Rindelaub, where he asks the captain all the hard questions he can within 3 minutes.

Please help support Puck Yeah with its extensive coverage of the 2019 New Zealand Ice Blacks by checking out our Givealittle page and donating today.

 

22 Thoughts on the 2019 Ice Blacks

April will see the New Zealand Ice Blacks traveling to Mexico City for their annual IIHF campaign with a singular objective: to finish first and earn promotion.

With two months to go, it’s down to the business end of preparations, culminating in an extensive ten-day training camp held in Vail, Colorado.

Puck Yeah will be right there with them, filming their progress for a documentary to be released later this year while also reporting back regularly so fans can stay connected with the Ice Blacks on the other side of the world. Such coverage is costly for us so please consider donating to our Givealittle page.

On Sunday night New Zealand’s 22-strong traveling squad for the 2019 IIHF Division II-Group B World Championship was announced as follows:

Forwards:
Paris Heyd, Matt Schneider, Jordan Challis, Alex Polosov, Dale Harrop, Benjamin Gavoille, Frazer Ellis, Ryan Strayer, Joseph Orr, Nick Henderson, Andrew Cox, Martin Lee, Chris Eaden, Robin Vortanov (non-traveling reserve).

Defence:
Stefan Amston, Callum Burns, Nick Craig, Blake Jackson, Andrew Hay, Jaxson Lane, Stephen Mawson, Logan Fraser (non-traveling reserve).

Goalies:
Rick Parry, Csaba Kercso-Magos, Vince Mitalas (non-traveling reserve).

Andy Mills, the President of the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation, has previously mentioned to me that he believes New Zealand sides should be playing in higher divisions than they currently do and I would for the most part agree with him on that statement – the Ice Blacks certainly should be.

After back-to-back silver medal placings at the IIHF Worlds, this year they must capitalise on their recent success against Australia and get back to the IIHF’s Division II-Group A tournament.

Out of the five New Zealand Ice Hockey League clubs, the current Birgel Cup champion West Auckland Admirals boast the most Ice Blacks with seven this year, the Botany Swarm and Skycity Stampede both provide four, while the Dunedin Thunder and Canterbury Red Devils feature three and two respectively.

If all those that were named today remain healthy, this 2019 squad will be one of the strongest sides to wear the black jersey in recent history. And that’s despite some notable omissions like goaltender Daniel Lee who was unavailable due to study commitments.

Anatoly Khorozov returns as head coach to see through his ‘two-year mission’ to make IIHF promotion a reality. However, Adam Blanchette won’t be returning to the bench beside him for this year’s campaign. Instead he will be joined by Andreas Kaisser, last seen coaching the Ice Fernz in 2018 and now the current General Manager of the NZIHL.

Here are my 22 thoughts (shout out to Elliotte Friedman) on the 2019 New Zealand Ice Blacks, starting with…

FORWARDS

Paris Heyd (Dunedin Thunder)
NZIHL commentator Matt Wiffen said it best, dubbing Paris Heyd “Captain Fantastic” after the skilled centre scored one of many highlight reels goals last season. And while he’s not the captain of this side, the Dunedin Thunder’s main man often leads by example with his on-ice performance.

Awarded the title of the NZIHL’s 2018 MVP after almost taking the Thunder to the Birgel Cup Finals, his addition to the Ice Blacks is a no-brainer. My favourite element of Paris’ game is how strong he is on his edges – when he’s controlling possession, defenders have a tough time forcing a turnover. More often than not he’s creating a high percentage scoring chance instead.

2018 Stats: 17 games, 15 goals, 21 assists, +6, 10 PIMs, 18.75 S%

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Photo: James Allan

Matt Schneider (Skycity Stampede)
Backing up the selection of Heyd with more offensive power is Stampede captain Matt Schneider. Hailing from Vernon, BC and once drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, this 6-foot-7 (but feels more like 7 foot on skates) behemoth can dominant a game early with equal parts size and skill.

We have seen Schneider do exactly that countless times since his NZIHL debut in 2012. Last season he was the top scorer with 46 points in 18 games and was crowned league MVP the season before that.

Possessing a wicked shot that goes in more often than not, Schneider is a fierce competitor that hates to lose. He will be a key part of the Ice Blacks’ offence – good luck to any goalie trying to see past his screen.

2018: 18 games, 22 goals, 24 assists, +29, 22 PIMs, 55.00 S%

Jordan Challis (Botany Swarm)
With 157 games over 12 years, Jordan Challis’ game is on roll after coming off his best season offensively. With 24 points in 15 games he led the up-and-down Swarm in scoring, followed up by an impressive outing for New Zealand against Trans-Tasman rivals Australia at the 2018 Winter Games.

Turning 27 shortly before training camp, Challis still has a lot to offer the Ice Blacks.

When interviewing the 43-cap veteran after their test series win over the Mighty Roos back in September, it was clear just how much achieving IIHF promotion would mean to him – Challis embodies the belief that New Zealand should be at a higher level and competing against Australia more.

Challis also has dad strength now, so there’s that.

2018: 15 games, 9 goals, 15 assists, even +/-, 20 PIMs, 34.62 S%

Alex Polosov (Swarm)
Once an age-grade representative for Estonia in 2004-05, Alex Polosov now calls New Zealand home and returns to the Ice Blacks fray for a third consecutive international season after a strong performance in the black jersey last year – scoring 9 points in 5 games.

The 5-foot-9 forward provides solid offensive depth for this 2019 lineup. If one of the main cannons fails to fire, Polosov still remains a threat with his ability to finish plays effectively during 2-on-1 breakouts. Here’s hoping he can continue the excellent chemistry with Ryan Strayer as seen at the 2018 Winter Games.

2018: 16 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, -3, 14 PIMs, 31.58 S%

Dale Harrop (West Auckland Admirals)
The Christchurch native had one hell of a 2018 season – NZIHL champion, Trans-Tasman Challenge winner, and two-time participant of the ‘Kurt Baker Challenge.’

The Admirals enjoyed plenty of goal-scoring up and down the lineup on their way to their first Birgel Cup victory, with Harrop being one of those consistent performers – tallying 20 points in 16 games.

Harrop is the type of character that every locker room needs. He knows how to keep things light, but also when to switch into beast mode and score crucial goals while staying out of the penalty box.

2018: 16 games, 5 goals, 15 assists, +9, 10 PIMs, 45.45 S%

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Photo: James Allan

Benjamin Gavoille (Thunder)
After making his New Zealand debut during the Winter Games series, Mexico City will be Benjamin Gavoille’s first IIHF experience for the Ice Blacks.

The French-born forward was instrumental in seeing the Dunedin Thunder come so close to securing a Birgel Cup Finals berth for the first time since 2014, finishing third in team scoring behind Heyd and Brandon Egli (27) with 20 points.

Gavoille’s attitude coming into the team really impressed me. While NZ might be his second home, he appreciates how meaningful the black jersey is for the country’s elite athletes – he has well and truly earned his spot with his initial performance in that same jersey.

2018: 17 games, 13 goals, 7 assists, +8, 10 PIMs, 27.66 S%

Frazer Ellis (Admirals)
Named 2018 MVP of a championship-winning team, at only age 22 Frazer Ellis’ two-way game is growing from strength to strength – he contributes regularly on the score sheet and denies opportunities for his opponents at the other end.

During last year’s IIHF Worlds in Spain, Ellis was burying the puck at a goal per game pace for New Zealand. The 2019 campaign has the potential to be a breakout year for the young forward with plenty of support from his fellow Admirals on hand.

2018: 18 games, 11 goals, 14 assists, +16, 37 PIMs, 52.38 S%

Ryan Strayer (Stampede)
The introduction of Ryan Strayer to the Ice Blacks lineup for the Winter Games felt like a breath of fresh air – and his style of play is one we’re fond of here at Puck Yeah.

His infectious energy both on and off the ice is not to be underestimated – if the debutant wasn’t contributing offensively, which he was, he can find other ways to have an impact on the outcome. Going to the corners, disrupting rushes and creating turnovers, it’s all part of Strayer’s game and he too, along with Gavoille, rightfully deserves a place in the 2019 roster.

2018: 18 games, 5 goals, 14 assists, +8, 12 PIMs, 22.73 S%

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Photo: James Allan

Joseph Orr (Thunder)
Currently playing US collegiate hockey for Williston State College, Joe Orr is backing up his seventh and best season for the Dunedin Thunder with two goals and eight assists in 13 games of ACHA competition.

While the flying winger was part of New Zealand’s Winter Games roster last year, the Mexico City tournament will be Orr’s first IIHF senior competition. Previous he represented the country at under-20 and under-18 competitions.

He is the second youngest member of the team, behind Callum Burns, but his play on the ice will likely suggest otherwise with his strong puck-handling skills – I won’t be surprised if Orr produces at least one highlight reel worthy goal during April’s tournament.

2018: 17 games, 9 goals, 8 assists, -3, 12 PIMs, 20.00 S%

Nick Henderson (Admirals)
Admirals fan favourite and the man affectionately known as ‘Hendo’ is going into his seventh consecutive year with the Ice Blacks, making up part of the side’s veteran group.

Once considered more of a defenceman, Henderson has transitioned well to the wing, his now preferred position. He can score goals but I would consider him more of a playmaker that will help anchor New Zealand’s second or third line.

2018: 18 games, 7 goals, 14 assists, +11, 22 PIMs, 35 S%

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Andrew Cox (Perth Thunder, AIHL)
I will admit that Cox is a player that I don’t get the chance to see play very often aside from when he’s with the Ice Blacks.

For the past seven years the Auckland-born winger has been applying his trade across the ditch in the AIHL for the Perth Thunder. While Cox enjoyed high-scoring years in 2014 and 2015, last season was his best yet with 31 points in 28 games. I look forward to seeing what he will bring to the table this year.

2018: 28 games, 12 goals, 19 assists, 18 PIMs

Martin Lee (Montreal)
Lee is another player I don’t get to see play much – the last time he stepped out on the ice for a NZIHL game was back in 2013 for the Canterbury Red Devils. Since then he has played at an elite level in Poland and Sweden, but Lee now resides in Montreal where he runs the ‘ML Hockey Development’ school.

Seven years removed from his last IIHF appearance for the Ice Blacks, the journeyman’s vast experience from playing around the world will help keep this team grounded.

Chris Eaden (Canterbury Red Devils)
The Ice Blacks are immediately stronger with this man in the lineup – Eaden is the NZIHL’s all-time leader in goals (203) and points (372). That’s a two points per game pace. But after a disappointing 2018 season that saw Canterbury finish last, the Red Devils captain will be looking to start the 2019 season on a more positive note.

Eaden takes his strength and conditioning more seriously than most, establishing ‘The Eaden Project’ where he helps his clients achieve their own fitness goals with the motto ‘Making normal people abnormally fit.’ With extensive knowledge in this area, Eaden brings more to the table than just his scoring prowess – and superior fitness will be important to edging out the competition if games go into overtime.

If you don’t believe me just check out @eadenproject on Instagram.

2018: 14 games, 8 goals, 12 assists, -18, 33 PIMs, 14.55 S%

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Photo: James Allan

DEFENCE

Stefan Amston (Stampede)
Originally from Sweden, the home of offensively gifted defencemen, I would consider Amston the biggest offensive weapon the Ice Blacks currently have on the blue line.

Last year’s tournament in Spain was Amston’s debut as a New Zealand citizen/representative, racking up 5 assists across his first 5 games. More points on the board this time around could result in seeing gold around his neck come April 27 – that just happens to be the day after my birthday, and all I want this year is to see this team finally achieve what they are capable of doing.

2018: 18 games, 6 goals, 7 assists, +21, 8 PIMs, 50.00 S%

Callum Burns (Stampede)
The youngest member of this year’s squad knows how to fly! Once a winger, Burns has quickly grown into his new defensive role for the Stampede and the Ice Blacks as well. But that doesn’t stop him from displaying his explosive speed – he’s a talented puck-carrying defender that loves to create scoring chances off the rush and it’s a pleasure to watch it happen from the stands.

A pairing of Amston and Burns could be lethal for the Ice Blacks’ special teams.

2018: 15 games, 2 goals, 10 assists, +9, 12 PIMs, 50.00 S%

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Photo: James Allan

Nick Craig (Admirals)
After suffering an injury early last season that saw the Ice Blacks captain sitting on the bench and chomping at the bit for the Winter Games plus the Admirals’ Birgel Cup run, Nick Craig is back and ready to lead the Ice Blacks to a first-place finish – he won’t be satisfied with another silver medal.

He will feel at home with so many of his Admirals teammates joining him for this journey. I know I’m not the only one who can’t wait to see what results a hungry Craig is capable of producing.

2018: 5 games, +5, 2 PIMs

Blake Jackson (Admirals)
Considering Jackson only registered 3 shots on goal for the entire 2018 NZIHL season, one of which went in, his focus is more on keeping the opposition at bay and clearing any rebound opportunities away from his netminder. But perhaps he should shoot more? There must be some lucky powers behind that moustache.

The Admirals defender was part of the 2012 Ice Blacks team that last played at the Division 2A level…I think you know where I’m going with this. Division 2B silver medals just don’t cut it anymore.

2018: 18 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, +3, 31 PIMs, 33.33 S%

Andrew Hay (Swarm)
As one of three Hay brothers to represent New Zealand in the past 12 months, Andrew knows what it means to wear the black jersey with pride, and he does so by providing a solid stay-at-home presence on the blue line.

As with Blake Jackson, Andrew was on the last Ice Blacks team to compete in the IIHF division above where they are currently placed. No doubt he would like to help guide New Zealand back there before he ever considers the notion of hanging up the skates – which is crazy. Surely it must be NZ law by now that at least one member of the Hay family is an Ice Black at all times.

2018: 15 games, 1 goal, -3, 29 PIMs, 12.50 SG%

Jaxson Lane (Red Devils)
While the Canterbury Red Devils were well represented in this year’s New Zealand Under-20s team, Lane is one of only two in the Ice Blacks – the other being stalwart Chris Eaden. This will be his first IIHF experience at the senior level, but the defender has previously worn the black jersey for the Under-18s and Under-20s back in 2011-12.

With Lane’s Red Devils coach Khorozov also running the bench at Mexico City and the experience of fellow d-men Craig, Jackson and Hay behind him, there is plenty of support, making this tournament a great opportunity for Lane to establish himself.

2018: 16 games, 2 goals, 6 assists, -20, 16 PIMS, 15.38 SG%

Stephen Mawson (Swarm)
Mawson’s inclusion to the squad is a testament to how hard he works to be successful. Having only picked up ice hockey a few years ago, he was more accustomed to the hard floors of inline hockey, but has since quickly become a key member of the Botany Swarm’s defensive core in just three seasons.

Playing forward during the latest summer edition of the Backyard Hockey League in Auckland, Mawson finished third in league scoring behind Botany Swarm/Iceholes teammate Ritchie Hopkinson and Kyle Kaliniak with 28 points in 15 games.

The Ice Blacks rookie has seen plenty of ice time and on a good team he can definitely produce. Bring the flow, bring the noise.

2018: 14 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, -11, 20 PIMs, 16.67 SG%

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Photo: Mike Froger

GOALIES

Rick Parry (Admirals)
As far as hockey careers go for New Zealand-born goalies, Parry is the gold standard to follow for the country’s younger goaltenders that are starting to come through the ranks. To help facilitate their growth he recently created the ‘Rick Parry Goalie Academy’ with his first camp coming up next month.

Sharing starts with Csaba Kercso-Magos, the veteran of 129 NZIHL games finished third amongst the league-leading goalies for 2018.

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Parry both as a person and a hockey player, his interview on the Puck Yeah podcast remains one of my favourites to date. I have full confidence that this Admirals goalie tandem can also deliver the goods just as they did in the NZIHL last year.

2018: 6-2 record, .913 SV%, 3.25 GAA

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Photo: Jay French

Csaba Kercso-Magos (Admirals)
After a highly successful year that saw the Hungarian-born goalie put up his best numbers since making his NZIHL debut in 2011, now’s the time for Kercso-Magos to make a run at the starting job for the Ice Blacks.

Last season proved that he is capable of stepping up for those big game moments as seen with three strong starts for the Admirals during the NZIHL playoffs – allowing 2.33 goals per game in a fierce battle with the Dunedin Thunder and the Skycity Stampede for top honours. Considering the high goal totals often seen in the league, those numbers were more than enough to keep his team in contention.

I’ve been impressed with Kercso-Magos’ ability to calm down and simply focus on making the next save. At 25 he’s hitting his prime and will provide a few good years in the crease for the Ice Blacks, especially with the Stampede’s Daniel Lee also pushing for starts when he’s available.

2018: 9-1 record, .931 SV%, 2.77 GAA

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In The Crease: Justin Daigle

After five years in the NZIHL, is West Auckland Admirals captain Justin Daigle more Kiwi than Canadian? Find out in our new interview series ‘In The Crease’ with goalie/scientist Joel ‘Dr J’ Rindelaub.

Please help support Puck Yeah with its extensive coverage of the 2019 New Zealand Ice Blacks by checking out our Givealittle page and donating today.

Main photo: Mike Froger

Puck Yeah is heading to Mexico with the Ice Blacks, but we need your help!

It’s well-known amongst the New Zealand ice hockey community that players, both in international and domestic competition, must pay to play. These costs are often offset by generous volunteers and businesses who are as equally passionate about the sport.

And while Puck Yeah has never asked for donations before, we feel that we must put ourselves in the same shoes as the athletes we cover.

We have been given the incredible opportunity to travel with the Ice Blacks to Colorado for their training camp before then heading to Mexico City for the 2019 IIHF Division II – Group B World Championship. With their sights firmly set on winning gold and gaining promotion to the next tier of international competition, both the journey and the result are well worth documenting.

As the team’s embedded video journalist, Puck Yeah’s Logan Swinkels will provide regular reports from the training camp, interviews with the players and coaching staff, the tournament itself, plus any team excursions as they explore Colorado and Mexico City during their down time.

We will also be sharing interviews/footage with other NZ news media outlets to help boost national interest in the team’s progress.

Our coverage during the 2018 Winter Games was only a glimpse of what we’re capable of – but we have always operated out of our own pockets, not wanting to burden players with any additional costs when they already sacrifice so much to represent New Zealand.

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However, we must ask you to help us with our own fundraising efforts to make the above possible. So today we have launched a Givealittle campaign to offset the costs that will incur during our mission to provide such extensive coverage of the Ice Blacks’ international campaign.

These costs include flights and travel insurance for camera gear, plus cover for any potential lost income from taking 3 weeks off work as a freelance video journalist (there are still bills and rent to be paid).

Every little bit counts and we are forever grateful for any donations and support we receive – ultimately we are doing this because we believe in our boys.

Please share our Givealittle page on social media and help spread the word!

Sponsorship opportunities are also available for larger companies that are willing to invest in this cause, including having particular videos (ie. game recaps or daily reports) feature their logo/branding. For more information, please contact Logan Swinkels directly: swinkfilms@gmail.com

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Logan interviewing Ice Blacks goalie Rick Parry.

Auckland on top after NZWIHL’s opening weekend

In the same weekend that Kendall Coyne Schofield became the first woman to compete at the NHL’s All-Star skills competition, the New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League had its opening round of games for the 2019 season. And much like Schofield, it all began with a flying start.

The two-time defending champion Auckland Steel found out firsthand how serious the Southern Storm are about taking the title south of the Bombays for the first time since the 2015-16 season.

Southern scored the first goal of the new NZWIHL season courtesy of an unassisted powerplay goal by Beth Scott during the opening period, with Auckland equalizing via Reagyn Shattock three minutes into the second.

Both sides played clean competitive hockey throughout with just the single penalty called in the middle stanza. Kelly Cooper breaking the deadlock with a go-ahead goal assisted by Kirstin Gerken going into the second intermission.

The score remained 2-1 in Southern’s favour until Anjali Mulari did what she does best with less than three minutes remaining on the clock – tying the game and forcing overtime.

With Auckland’s Lochlyn Hyde and Southern’s Jordan Wichman standing tall in net, the Friday night showdown would be decided with a penalty shootout. Coco Lund’s clincher giving Southern the 3-2 win and setting the tone early for the season.

The Storm backed up that impressive win with another the following morning, beating the Canterbury Devilettes 6-1. Their defence was largely untested with Canterbury only registering 11 shots on goal compared to Southern’s 55 – Kellye Nelson was the standout player of the game, firing at a 100% rate to score a hat-trick off three shots.

Canterbury stayed within the line of fire for Saturday’s second game as Auckland looked to bounce back from their overtime defeat. Hyde and Tabitha Crump sharing the minutes in-goal to shutout the Devilettes, while the Steel’s offence ran rampant.

Mulari top scored with five points (3 goals & 2 assists) with Jasmine Horner-Pascoe also notching a trio of goals. Auckland captain Helen Murray was the game’s other scorer in a 7-0 rout.

Come Sunday, the Storm opted to knockout their South Island rivals with a convincing 4-0 victory. Wichman registering a 12-save shutout to continue her impressive opening weekend in net, while at the other end, New Zealand Under-18 representative Lilly Forbes faced a barrage of pucks – stopping 67 of 71 shots on goal.

Nelson once again leading the way during those crucial special team minutes with one goal on the powerplay, the other on the penalty kill.

In Sunday night’s rematch of the opening game, Auckland showed the Southern Storm that they are still this league’s team to beat.

After allowing Kellye Nelson to score her second shorthanded goal of the weekend 42 seconds in, the Steel were in control for the remainder of the game. Jamieson Jones tallied two, while Mulari, Rachael Neville-Lamb, Jemma Read and Laura Thresher also contributed towards the 6-1 scoreline.

Monday morning’s clash to round out the long weekend saw Auckland and Canterbury battle it out, the Devilettes looking to pick themselves back up from their previous defeat.

Mulari opened the goal account a minute into the contest before Canterbury’s Emma Kloss scored twice to give the Devilettes a 2-1 lead heading into the first break.

The score would remain that way until halfway through the third period when Auckland’s Neville-Lamb and Horner-Pascoe lit the lamp in quick succession. The Devilettes unable to recover from that moment on – they head home having lost all four games of the short season and wondering what they can do to beat Auckland or Southern.

So, after a jam-packed weekend that featured six great games of New Zealand’s top-tier women’s hockey, this is how the standings are shaping up:

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The NZWIHL continues February 2-3 with the Auckland Steel traveling down to Dunedin Ice Stadium to face the Southern Storm. Puck drop is 5pm and 9:30am this Saturday and Sunday respectively.

The NZWIHL returns for 2019

While the NZIHL doesn’t return for another season until mid-May, there is another way to get your fix of competitive national league hockey and it might be one that many Kiwi hockey fans aren’t quite familiar with yet.

The New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League start their 2019 season tomorrow with an exciting round of games taking place all weekend long at Auckland’s Paradice rink in Botany Downs.

The NZWIHL runs until the beginning of March with 18 games on the schedule featuring the Auckland Steel, Canterbury Devilettes, and the Southern Storm.

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First up, the Southern Storm will take on the defending champion Auckland Steel, who will once again be the team to beat with a lineup headlined by a vast selection of current Ice Fernz, including: NZ captain Helen Murray, Anjali Mulari, Rachael Neville-Lamb, Jemma Read, Jasmine Horner-Pascoe, Terryn Bruce, Jaimeson Jones, Ashley Richmond, Reagyn Shattock and goaltender Lochlyn Hyde.

That’s not to say the other two sides won’t also be dressing their fair share of players to watch out for.

Canterbury will feature a few notable NZ representatives with Krystie Woodyear-Smith, Lilly Forbes and Emma Kloss on the roster. Meanwhile the Storm boast seven Ice Fernz named in the traveling squad for April’s IIHF World Championships in Romania: goalie Danielle Strayer, Kelly Cooper, Gina Davis, Hope Gregory, Abbey Heale, Rina Watt and Kirstin Gerken.

Southern netminder Jordan Wichman is excited about the prospect of facing off against some of the country’s best. “I find it to be a privilege to be able to play with and against some amazing senior players, and I was lucky enough to have grown up playing with some of them back during my competitive inline days,” said Wichman.

“For me, the preparation for playing these girls is completely mental. As a goalie, it’s super easy to get psyched out in moments of pressure, as it feels like your whole team is relying on you. My pre-game routine of having good banter with my teammates helps me build my confidence for the game ahead, and sets me in the right mindset to take on anyone.”

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After two seasons with Auckland, Jordan Wichman will play for the Southern Storm in 2019.

Following on from the extended Auckland round, Southern will host the Steel at the recently renovated Dunedin Ice Stadium.

Similar to IIHF tournaments that have a smaller pool of teams, the champion will be decided by who has the most points in the league’s standings at the conclusion of play. Following the same points structure as the NZIHL, three points are allocated to a regulation win, two for an overtime victory, and a single point for an OT loss.

The NZWIHL began in 2014 to provide more competitive game time to further develop New Zealand women’s ice hockey and strengthen both the senior and age-grade national teams ahead of their respective IIHF tournaments. Along with the Ice Fernz, the majority of the New Zealand Under-18 women’s team lace up for the three regional clubs.

In the league’s four-season history, Auckland have won each year bar the 2015-16 season when Canterbury claimed top honours.

Auckland have only suffered one defeat in the previous two years, but with the Canterbury and Southern teams making some significant roster changes in a bid to challenge the Steel’s reign, don’t expect a repeat of last season’s one-sided results.

After finishing in third place the previous three seasons, Wichman believes the Storm have what it takes to change their fortunes. “I have full confidence in my team – they are a fantastic bunch of ladies and we have all been working really hard this past year to improve our game. We plan on giving our games everything that we have.”

Puck Yeah will be following the NZWIHL and provide coverage of games where possible – keep an eye out for further updates on our website, Facebook and Instagram.

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Full NZWIHL 2019 Schedule:

Jan 25: Auckland v Southern (4:45pm) at Paradice Botany Downs

Jan 26: Canterbury v Southern (9:45am) & Auckland v Canterbury (5:45pm) at Paradice Botany Downs

Jan 27: Canterbury v Southern (9:45am) & Auckland v Southern (5:45pm) at Paradice Botany Downs

Jan 28: Auckland v Canterbury (9:15am) at Paradice Botany Downs

Feb 2: Southern v Auckland (5pm) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Feb 3: Southern v Auckland (9:30am) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Feb 9: Canterbury v Auckland (4:30pm) at Alpine Ice, Christchurch

Feb 10: Canterbury v Auckland (4:30pm) at Alpine Ice, Christchurch

Feb 16: Southern v Canterbury (5pm) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Feb 17: Southern v Canterbury (9:30am) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Feb 23: Auckland v Southern (7am) & Southern v Canterbury (4:30pm) at Alpine Ice, Christchurch

Feb 24: Canterbury v Auckland (4:30pm) at Alpine Ice, Christchurch

Mar 2: Auckland v Southern (8am) & Canterbury v Auckland (5pm) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Mar 3: Southern v Canterbury (9:30am) at Dunedin Ice Stadium

Puck Yeah Eats: Queenstown

Guest post by Joel Rindelaub (Botany Swarm)

If you are a fan of ice hockey in New Zealand, chances are you’ve seen a game in Queenstown at some point. Whether it has been to watch one of the last four Birgel Cup finals, the Ice Blacks taking on Australia in the Trans-Tasman Challenge, or just as a mid-winter escape to watch your favourite team battle it out, Hockeytown NZ always seems to deliver a rowdy atmosphere and a great spectacle.

Along with the high energy of the Queenstown Ice Arena, the town is also home to plenty of hoppin’ nightlife and food options. And, here at Puck Yeah, we like food. Like… a lot.

So with a camera in our hands and cuisine in our heads, we decided to explore the scene and show you a few staples that can take your game day experience to the next level – not including the famous Bob’s Weigh Cafe however, that place requires its own episode at a later date!

(Also, as it turns out, Queenstown is pretty expensive, and — if you show up with a video camera — businesses tend to be much more lenient on the final bill. 60% of the time, it works every time. Trust me.)

In any case, just sit right back, open a bevvy, and let Puck Yeah give you a virtual tour for your taste buds. Cheers!

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IIHF Worlds: New Zealand U20s comeback over South Africa falls short

The New Zealand Under-20s have saved their best performance for last at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, but it was South Africa that proved to be victors of a closely contested battle to decide the tournament’s bottom two placings.

With one last game to salvage a result, the challenge was set from the get-go as the Junior Ice Blacks performed the ‘Ka Mate’ haka to their opponents. A sight more commonly seen during an international rugby test between the two nations.

This time it was the South Africans that were caught off guard early – Haydn Boul opened the scoring two minutes in after a defensive blunder gave the Christchurch forward a clear path towards goal, popping the puck over the shoulder of South Africa starting goalie Ryan Boyd.

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South Africa answered back 37 seconds with Dion Phakathi scoring the equalizer. From that point on they took control of the first period. Delano Schuurman tallied two goals, one coming on the powerplay after Tazmin Hall was called for tripping, and New Zealand found themselves heading into the first intermission down 3-1.

All four of NZ’s penalty minutes came in the opening period. Whatever was said by head coach Justin Daigle during the break must have worked as they tightened up their play and produced their best twenty minutes of hockey for the tournament in the second.

Luke Hill led his team by example to start the comeback, cutting through South Africa’s defence and shooting the puck past Boyd on a seemingly impossible angle.

The game-tying goal wasn’t pretty but it showed a glimpse of the strength around the puck this New Zealand side is capable of. Charlie Lilly was taken down by South Africa’s scrambling backcheck, only to recover quickly and make the puck available for Boul to score his second of the game.

Evan Froger had arguably his best game in the black jersey yet – the 6-foot-1 netminder stood tall to make 33 saves and keep New Zealand within the game.

With a deadlock in place, South Africa took charge with ten minutes left in the decider – Luca Meyer carrying the puck behind the net and finding Brandon Delport open during a NZ line change for the go-ahead goal. Meyer then scored an insurance marker five minutes later to put the game out of reach for the Junior Ice Blacks.

South Africa claim seventh place with the 5-3 win.

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The eighth-placed finish sees New Zealand finish last in back-to-back Under-20 tournaments, however at this stage there appears to be no risk of relegation with the Division III qualification group merging with Division III this year. Regardless, it is a tough result to swallow for the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation.

Meanwhile in this morning’s gold medal match, China have taken top honours after defeating Australia 5-1. The win sees them promoted back to the IIHF’s Division II – Group B for 2020.

Watch the video highlights above for our recap of the action – subscribe to the Puck Yeah NZ YouTube channel for more NZ hockey videos.

Photos supplied by Ice Hockey Iceland

IIHF Worlds: Iceland rout New Zealand U20s in placement rounds

New Zealand’s Under-20 men’s national team’s tough run at the IIHF World Championships in Reykjavik, Iceland continued overnight with a 11-1 loss at the hands of the host nation.

In his first start in net for New Zealand this tournament, the Dunedin Thunder’s Evan Froger felt the onslaught of an Icelandic side determined to win on home ice and gain the opportunity to play for a fifth place finish. 17 seconds in Axel Orongan potted the opening goal to set the tone early.

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As the halfway mark of the first approached Isaak Reid was sent to the penalty box on a marginal tripping call. On the ensuing powerplay an unchallenged Sigurdur Thorsteinsson went blocker side on Froger to extend Iceland’s lead to 2-0.

Iceland were back on the powerplay with five minutes to go in the opening stanza. Orongan’s seamless pass from the right-side point to the left-side slot enabled Heidar Kristveigarson to score his first of five goals for the day.

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Down 6-0 after twenty minutes, New Zealand head coach Justin Daigle brought Drew Kinney into the game to relieve Froger in net, but it only took 19 seconds for Kristveigarson to tally his hat-trick goal.

After that, the frantic scoring pace set by the home side in the opening period came to a relative halt – thanks in-large to a more dogged defensive effort from the Junior Ice Blacks while Kinney denied 25 of 28 shots.

Unfortunately matters took a turn for the worst with 4:12 remaining – Ethan du Plooy fell awkwardly after colliding with Iceland’s starting goalie Arnar Hjaltested as he came out of his crease to play a loose puck. The play resulted in the New Zealand defender being taken off the ice via stretcher for evaluation – du Plooy was later discharged from hospital with stitches and a ‘heavy concussion’ according to team reports.

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Due to the lengthy injury delay the second period ended prematurely – play eventually resumed for the final period with an extra four minutes on the clock. Iceland scoring twice more to get their eleventh and set themselves up for the fifth place clash against Chinese Taipei.

New Zealand’s Luke Hill broke his team’s goalscoring drought late in the third. The opportunistic play was a direct result of Jackson Flight aggressively forechecking the Iceland defence behind their own net, creating a turnover, the puck floating directly to Hill’s stick front and centre of goal.

But the damage was already done by that point – they will now face South Africa again in a grudge match playoff for seventh and eighth place. Puck drops tonight at 11pm NZ time.

In the medal rounds Australia will be seeking IIHF promotion as they prepare to face off against the high-scoring Chinese team for the gold medal game. Both sides won their semifinal matchups 7-4 and 12-1 respectively over Bulgaria and Turkey.

Photos supplied by Ice Hockey Iceland.

 

 

IIHF Worlds: New Zealand U20s suffer close defeat to South Africa

South Africa have claimed an upset victory over the New Zealand Under-20s at the IIHF World Championships in Iceland, winning 1-0 with the singular goal coming late in the game after a tense struggle between the two traditional sporting rivals.

The loss sees the Under-20s shutout by their opposition in back-to-back games as the offensive struggles continue.

In their third outing, the Junior Ice Blacks were much improved in the shots on goal department – tallying 25 to South Africa’s 31. While their starting goalie Ryan Boyd is credited with the shutout, Drew Kinney has continued to be solid in net for New Zealand.

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“Not in my house!” – Drew Kinney, probably.

The defensive effort also saw improvement. Issak Reid’s effort to break up a clear 2-on-1 scoring opportunity halfway through the first was a highlight in what was a scrappy game between two sides desperate for a W.

Dump and chase felt like the order of the day during the opening period, with neither side spending any significant time beyond the blue line cycling the puck to create chances. It was all a ‘feeling out’ process to see who will take charge of the game. In the end, that responsibility fell to the netminders with no score through the first two periods of play.

The goaltending bout was eventually broken up by Delano Schuurman’s game-winning goal with 10:28 remaining in the third period.

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New Zealand now find themselves in the placement rounds and looking to salvage a result from the tournament. Their next opponent? Iceland.

The host nation have performed relatively strong in this tournament. Grouped into the same pool as Australia and Turkey, they stunned the Junior Mighty Roos with a 5-4 overtime win, only missing out on a semifinals berth by one point after their 4-2 defeat to Turkey overnight.

If NZ pull off the victory in front of the Reykjavik home crowd, they will face a matchup to determine fifth place with either Chinese Taipei or once again, South Africa. On the other side of the coin, they could be battling for seventh spot come Sunday.

The puck drops for New Zealand v Iceland at 11pm tomorrow NZ time.

Note: Highlights were not available for this game as YouTube blocked the live stream due to music copyright issues.

All photos supplied by Ice Hockey Iceland.

IIHF Worlds: Bulgaria shutout NZ U20s in game 2

A mere 18 hours after their loss to China, the New Zealand Under-20s faced a quick turnaround as they aimed to pick things back up for game 2 against Bulgaria.

The back-to-back situation would prove too much however, losing their second game of the tournament 9-0. They now find themselves out of contention to progress beyond the preliminary rounds with only the top-two teams advancing to the semifinal rounds. In group B, China and Bulgaria both have 6 points and look set to qualify.

The first period saw Konstantin Dikov, Ivailo Penchev, and Kaloyan Vachkov score to give Bulgaria a 3-0 lead.

NZ came close to drawing back the gap by putting in a stronger second period performance with scoring chances coming on the powerplay. However, much like game 1, the Junior Ice Blacks struggled to get meaningful shots on goal with Bulgaria out-shooting them 2:1 (42-21).

Starting goalie Drew Kinney had a strong outing for New Zealand despite the final score as he continuously held back the Bulgarian attack on several close range opportunities – his glove hand proving to be a difference maker on those attempts.

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But the run support hasn’t been there for him so far this tournament with one goal in two games. For extended periods of time they were often hemmed into their own zone, suffocated by the aggressive Bulgarian forecheck and unable to clear the puck in transition through to the forwards.

The U20s never looked like giving up, however fatigue had other ideas. It clearly showed that they were playing the second half of a back-to-back. Shots and passes both weren’t connecting as crisply with their sticks as they could have.

The highlight of the game was Miroslav Vasilev’s individual effort to extend Bulgaria’s lead to 5-0. On the man-advantage with 1:25 remaining in the second period, Vasilev begins the move from behind his own net, streaking past four defenders before beating the goalie with a swift backhand-to-forehand move.

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New Zealand will get a chance to regroup and come back strong with their third and final game of round robin against South Africa on Thursday night (2:30am Friday NZ time).

You can imagine the U20s will come out firing looking to prove they can play better hockey and push for a higher finishing position. The pieces are there, now it’s time to click together.

Main photo supplied by Ice Hockey Iceland

IIHF Worlds: New Zealand U20s fall to China in opener

New Zealand’s international season began on a sour note for 2019 with the Under-20 national men’s team losing 12-1 to China.

Facing China in their opening game of the IIHF U20 Division III World Championships in Reykjavik, Iceland would prove to be a tough task for Justin Daigle and his crew. Their previous four encounters with China have seen the NZ U20s lose 11-2, 11-2, 4-1, and 4-1.

China found themselves in the lead early on with Jianing Guo scoring thirteen seconds into the fray to stun the New Zealanders. They refused to let up from there on out, amounting nine unanswered goals before the Junior Ice Blacks found a way to break starting goalie Siming Wu’s shutout streak.

With five minutes remaining Haydn Boul scored the lone NZ goal with Ethan du Plooy and Harry Tappin both assisting on the play.

Chinese forward Qianyi Huang was the top scorer with 3 goals and 3 assists, followed closely by Jing Wang who tallied a goal and 4 assists. Charlie Lilly was voted New Zealand’s best player of the game.

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While the scoreline wasn’t favourable, the recently updated NZ jerseys were looking fresh on the ice. Photo: Josh Fraser

New Zealand’s starting goalie Drew Kinney allowed 7 goals through two periods, before being replaced by Evan Froger in the third. Both netminders faced a heavy amount of puck with China taking a total of 77 shots on goal, while New Zealand could only register 12.

While the Kiwi side was unable to convert on the powerplay, their opponents scored once with the man-advantage and three more shorthanded.

The 12-1 result is the third consecutive meeting between the two nations where China have tallied ten or more goals.

Led by the Canterbury Red Devils trio of Luke Hill, du Plooy and Ryan Fraser, the Junior Ice Blacks will be looking to bounce back when they face Bulgaria tonight (11pm NZST). The Bulgarians came away 10-1 victors in their tournament opener against South Africa today.

Note: Highlights are unavailable for this game with YouTube blocking the live streams post-game due to music copyright issues. We apologize for any inconvenience but this is out of our control – Puck Yeah is doing whatever we can to remedy this for the remainder of the tournament.

Main photo: Josh Fraser