2019 sees a new era for New Zealand ice hockey – the country’s national representatives will be wearing a redesigned jersey that features a few subtle changes to the beloved sweater.
As you will see from the video above, a new shoulder yoke design has been introduced to the white ‘home’ kit – similar in shape to what the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks brought in for their third jersey this season.
A touch of silver has been added to the sleeves as well, matching the traditional fern that currently dons the crest, while the trio of stripes also match with the player’s socks.
Numbering on the sleeve remains in a similar position to previous years, but the simple black look of the numbering has been replaced by white with a silver outline to make it pop from the black shoulders.
Inside the collar features the words ‘Ake Ake Kia Kaha’ – in English it translates to ‘Forever and ever, be strong.’
The phrase is part of a marching song made famous during World War Two by the highly regarded 28th Maori Battalion, along with being the haka performed by the New Zealand ‘Natives’ rugby team that toured across Australia, Egypt and the British Isles back in 1888.
It seems rather fitting then that the country’s ice hockey teams would choose to adopt ‘Ake Ake Kia Kaha’ as their motto.
Ice Blacks veteran Andrew Hay was able to provide Puck Yeah a sneak peek of the home jersey prototype, noting that he’s a big fan of the new look, despite having what he calls ‘a complete lack of modelling pedigree.’
“Overall, (it’s) a much more modern and sleek design, and what would have to be considered the most radical and exciting design change to the New Zealand Ice Hockey jersey – period,” Hay said.
“The material is very light yet tough, and the jersey is a much better overall fit when compared to previous versions, particularly around the elbows and wrists. (Jordan) Challis will be stoked as he’ll no longer need to tape his cuffs to his elbow pads every game.”
The New Zealand emblem is now larger too, the change is stark when compared to the original 1987 jersey. But it feels like they got the size of the emblem right on this occasion – it stands out well while being portioned appropriately in relation with the overall design.
The Under-20 men’s team will be the first team set to wear the new uniform as they compete at the 2019 IIHF Division III World Championships later this month in Iceland.
Changes to the black ‘away’ jersey will also be revealed during that tournament.
At this stage, the New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation has stated that this design will stay for the next four years as part of the IIHF’s program to replace a federation’s jerseys free of charge. Beyond that period it is possible that a more drastic design change could happen, including refinements to the current crest.
If the NZIHF does a consider a stronger change in direction, then perhaps this design by Reddit user SenorPantsBulge from 2017 could be a hit.
Last year NZIHF President Andy Mills was in Copenhagen signing off on the new design with jersey manufacturer Tackla.
“It’s more than a shirt, it’s every player’s dream to play for their country. It represents achievement and the dedication from all our hard-working ice hockey communities of coaches, administrators, volunteers and families to get our kids on the pathway to one day be wearing the fern with pride. It’s a true acknowledgement of the player’s success and the journey that they can hold dear to them forever,” Mills stated.
While New Zealand’s jersey design hasn’t changed much in the past decade, perhaps this striking new look will be the beginning of further aesthetic changes to the uniform in the not-too distant future.
What do you think of the new jersey? Let us know in the comment section below or on the Puck Yeah NZ Facebook page.
Main photo: Logan Swinkels