NZIHL

Admirals name 2018 squad ahead of pre-season opener

Today the West Auckland Admirals officially announced their roster for the 2018 NZIHL season with what could be their deepest lineup yet as last year’s runners-up aim to go that one step further.

Goalies: Rick Parry, Csaba Kercso-Magos Jr, Greg Davis.

Defence: A.J. Spiller, Benedikt Bauer, Blake Jackson, Gareth McLeish, George Coslett, Justin Daigle, Kevin Phillips, Matthew Roxborough, Nick Craig, Alex Regan, Flynn Hayward-Jones.

Forwards: Andy Hart, Craig Peacock, Dale Harrop, Dylan Dickson, Frazer Ellis, Matt Taylor, Mike Verschuren, Nick Henderson, Ryan Ruddle, Shaun Harrison, Taylor Rooney, Zac Vince, Chris Regan, Lochlan Butler, Max Vesper.

As reported last week, Justin Daigle returns for his fifth season with the club – but along with his Admirals duties, the Alberta native is also the head coach of the New Zealand Under-20s. And while that team didn’t achieve the success they were hoping for in their recent outing at the World Champs in Bulgaria, let’s not forget that junior team is gleaming with promising talent.

Alex Regan and Max Vesper, two members of that U20 squad, will now join their national coach on the Admirals bench – fans will enjoy watching these ‘youngsters’ out on the ice at Paradice Avondale this season. Honestly, I feel so old saying that but I do have a good 12 to 15 years on them.

While younger sister Grace has been enjoying an impressive collegiate hockey career to date, Shaun Harrison has also put up good numbers with UCLA in the past. In nine games at the ACHA second division level, he scored 8 goals and 3 assists. Having previously played for the Dunedin Thunder, Harrison will be a welcome addition to an already potent looking offence.

George Coslett has previously played for the Canterbury Red Devils but more recently, the Thunder. His addition to an Admirals blueline that features a strong veteran presence could make it challenging for opposing teams to control possession and establish their attack.

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Many of the 2018 Ice Blacks will feature in this year’s Admirals lineup, including Nick Craig (front).

For those that watched New Zealand’s exciting campaign at last month’s IIHF Division 2 – Group B World Championship, where they would ultimately lose in a heartbreaking gold medal decider to Spain, you will notice many current Ice Blacks in this Admirals lineup – eight to be precise.

When you include those who have played for the Ice Blacks as recently as last year, Ryan Ruddle, Rick Parry, and Blake Jackson, it would be easy to call this a very stacked roster – because truth be told, it is.

Teams will need plenty of speed and skill to try overcome the current Skycity Stampede dynasty, and the Admirals just might be the hungriest of the NZIHL teams to see a new Birgel Cup victor.

Catch the West Auckland Admirals first pre-season game of the year this Saturday where they will host the Botany Swarm at Paradice Avondale – puck drops at 4:30pm.

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