NZIHL

Import Report: West Auckland Admirals

Last season saw the West Auckland Admirals dress one of their strongest lineups in recent years with imports Adrian Toth, Henric Andersen, and T.J. Battani having an immediate impact on the NZIHL – all three would end the 2017 season first, third, and fifth in league scoring respectively.

The increase in offensive production saw the team’s goal differential improve by 46 as they finished runner-up in the Birgel Cup Finals to the Skycity Stampede.

However, none of the three will return for the new season. Toth is back playing in the Erste Liga for DVTK Jegesmedvék, while Andersen has returned to France to play for Chamonix – Battani has since retired.

The Admirals imports for 2018 are as follows.

JUSTIN DAIGLE
After suffering a horrific eye injury last year that ruled him out for the remainder of the season, the Admirals captain has since recovered well and seen plenty of ice time over the summer playing for the BHL’s Top Cheese – whom finished their season as champions, with a banner to be raised at Paradice Avondale, home of the West Auckland Admirals.

Daigle will be returning to the lineup in his fifth season with the team, where he’s “fired up” to lead the Admirals towards another Finals appearance.

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Photo: Mike Froger.

KEVIN PHILLIPS
Phillips is one of two Admirals imports to join from the Elite Ice Hockey League in the UK. Playing for the Guildford Flames, the 5-foot-11 defencemen provides stability on the backend and is known for his ability to move the puck in transition from his own zone into attack.

The Flames joined the EIHL after the English Premier Ice Hockey League disbanded in 2017, so combining his performances for Guildford, along with the Belfast Giants and Braehead Clan, Phillips has played over 550 games of top-tier professional ice hockey in the UK – including a championship win with Belfast in 2014.

The Yorkshire native has also represented Great Britain in the IIHF’s first division and enjoyed a brief stint in Australia. Playing for the AIHL’s Adelaide Adrenaline, Phillip scored close to a point per game pace over two seasons (47 points in 50 games).

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Photo: John Uwins

CRAIG PEACOCK
The second of the Admiral imports coming from the EIHL this season, Craig Peacock currently plays for the Braehead Clan in Glasgow.

Described by his new team as a fast, skilful forward, Peacock has enjoyed impressive production in the UK’s top league – racking up 160 goals and 197 assists within 449 career EIHL regular season games. In the post-season the scoring doesn’t slow down either, with 19 points in 23 playoff appearances.

Hailing from Peterborough, Peacock has also played for Great Britain, most notably helping his nation gain promotion to the IIHF’s Division 1 – Group A where they are currently competing against Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, and Slovenia.

His ability to find the back of the net, and equally set up teammates, will not only boost the Admirals’ attack, but make him a key player to watch for 2018.

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Photo: Al Goold

MIKE VERSCHUREN
The 6-foot-2 forward from Eindhoven was the first import announced by the West Auckland Admirals last month, highlighting a desire to replace the offensive abilities of the 2017 imports with more of the same.

Over the past two seasons Verschuren has been lighting up goalies while playing for his hometown team, the Eindhoven Kemphanen in the Bene Liga.

In 2017 he scored 23 points in 13 games, however this season has been a career year for the forward – scoring 14 goals and 29 assists in only 22 games.

At age 25, the Dutch international has proven to be a dominant force in the top hockey league for Belgium/Netherlands, and the Admirals believe his playing style that mixes skill with physicality will be well suited to the NZIHL.

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Photo: ISO Sports Photography

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