PUCK YEAH 55: Justin Daigle

On this week’s podcast we’re doing a Puck Yeah first and making the whole show available as a video. This episode is also available on iTunes, Spotify and SoundCloud.

West Auckland Admirals captain Justin Daigle joins Joe from our Auckland studio, with Logan dialling in from Sydney, to talk about winning the NZIHL championship in 2018, recovering from a horrific eye injury that almost ended his career, coaching the New Zealand Under-20s, and much more!

Note: With Logan overseas covering the New Zealand Ice Blacks, this will be our last podcast for a few weeks until he returns home.

Main photo: Mike Froger

PUCK YEAH 54: Adrian Volpe, Goalie Coach Extraordinaire

This week we’re looking into the weird science of hockey goaltending and our special guest Adrian Volpe knows all about it.

Volpe enjoyed two seasons in the NZIHL as a Canadian import goalie with the Skycity Stampede as part of their impressive run of three Birgel Cup titles in three years. These days he’s back home in Burlington, ON working as a goalie coach with his old junior team, the Burlington Cougars of the OJHL.

Check out Volpe on Instagram (@goaliecoachvolpe29) where he regularly posts videos from this trainings. Perhaps one day we’ll be saying he coached the next Carey Price or Marc-Andre Fluery?

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Main Photo: Mike Froger

PUCK YEAH 50: Strength and Conditioning with Chris Eaden

It’s our 50th episode! And to celebrate we’re talking fitness with the man behind the successful Eaden Project gym, Chris Eaden.

Chris is a big impact player in New Zealand ice hockey. Whether it be his strength and conditioning role with the NZIHF to prepare national teams for competition, being the Canterbury Red Devils captain, or the fact that he’s the all-time leading scorer in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League with 203 goals in 168 games.

Away from the rink he’s making a difference in Christchurch by introducing Cantabrians to a healthy lifestyle.

This week he joins the podcast to chat about how training for hockey has evolved as the game gets faster, getting the Ice Blacks fit for IIHF Worlds, and the struggles of being on a rebuilding team after years of success.

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Main photo: Josh Fraser

PUCK YEAH 48: Rick Parry enters The Hive

Puck Yeah Podcast is back in full force for 2019! And we’re starting off with some big news out of the NZIHL.

After spending the past five seasons with the West Auckland Admirals, culminating in lifting the Birgel Cup for the first time last year, goalie Rick Parry is moving across town to join the Botany Swarm.

It’s a busy time for the veteran netminder of 158 NZIHL games and 49 tests for the New Zealand Ice Blacks, recently he launched the Rick Parry Goalie Academy to help train the next generation of talent coming through.

Parry speaks with Puck Yeah’s Logan Swinkels to give an insight into why he’s making the big move for the 2019 season.

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

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Photo: James Allan

 

In The Crease: Csaba Kercso-Magos

Csaba Kercso-Magos may have what some Kiwis consider a hard to pronounce name, but the Hungarian-born goaltender has definitely made a name for himself in the NZIHL – being awarded top goalie honours in 2017 before helping the West Auckland Admirals secure their first Birgel Cup victory in 2018.

Kercso-Magos was recently named into the 2019 New Zealand Ice Blacks squad that will play in Mexico City for the IIHF Worlds, creating a formidable tandem in net with fellow Admirals goalie Rick Parry.

He joins goalie/scientist Joel ‘Dr J’ Rindelaub for the third instalment of ‘In The Crease’.

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.

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Photo: James Allan

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.

 

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’s Memorable Moments of 2018

2019 is on its way to New Zealand, so it’s time to look back on our most memorable moments of the year.

Obviously this is subjective so don’t @ me if you disagree with any of the choices here.

Spark Arena Showdown

Starting in no particular order with the NZIHL hitting the big time in June.

The West Auckland Admirals and Botany Swarm were the curtain raiser for the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic ahead of USA v Canada. As the number one and two teams in the league respectively at that time, the rivals kept things close.

But it was the Admirals that came away with the 4-2 victory. Having hockey at Spark Arena was an awe-inspiring sight, so how about we make this a regular thing somehow?

Ice Blacks Down Straya

The New Zealand season ended on a high for our guys, with the Ice Blacks taking a historic series win over the Australian Mighty Roos.

Winning game 1 4-2, they weren’t wasting any time the following night, piling on the goals in the series decider.

The boys did us proud and you could tell post-game that the victory meant everything to them.

Queenstown Brawl Out

By round 7 of the NZIHL, the Skycity Stampede were making a run for it in the standings in search of a fourpeat. While the top-of-the-table Admirals came into Queenstown looking to spoil that party, all to no avail.

The next game, and tempers boiled over at the end of the second period with multiple players from both sides getting involved.

That incident saw four players per team suspended, but an appeal from the Admirals saw two of their suspensions lifted.

The Crowd Goes Wild

Ok let’s lighten the mood a little here… in 2018 we encouraged other NZ sports media to cover the NZIHL and they responded.

None better than this story by The Crowd Goes Wild where we found out how well the new coach and imports were adjusting to captain Andy Hay.

Irish-Canadian forward Declan Weir described the captain as ‘a great communicator’ while American goalie Colin Langham called him a ‘teddy bear.’ Hopefully Andy forgave him for that one, thanks CGW!

A special mention must go to Nigel Yalden and RadioSport for their regularly weekend coverage – during the NZIHL season Yalden interviewed all five captains live on-air. Puck Yeah sincerely appreciates the dedication that he and his producer Mark Kelly have shown towards promoting the sport.

Toa Kohaunga Riri Tio

Now while the Dunedin Thunder came agonizingly close to making the Finals for the first time since 2014, one of their biggest moments of the season came in round 4 against the Stampede.

With the game tied late and overtime looming, the Thunder shocked the defenders of the Toa Kohaunga Riri Tio challenge trophy – Brandon Egli scoring the game-winning goal with five seconds remaining on the clock.

While their tenure would be short-lived, hopefully that win is a sign of greater things to come for Dunedin.

Stampede reclaimed the TKRT in round 9 and there it remains in Queenstown until next season.

Birgel Cup Goes North

After 14 long years it finally happened, the Admirals won the Birgel Cup to become NZIHL champions.

It wasn’t easy however with game 1 going to overtime with a 4-4 deadlock. After long battle in the corners between the Stampede’s Kory Helowka and the Admirals’ Andy Hart, the puck eventually found its way to the back of the net via Kevin Phillips.

West Auckland needed a comeback hero again for game 2 – with Hart delivering the title-winning goal. It’s no wonder he was awarded the Finals MVP honours as well.

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Photo: Kate Harrison

Main photo: James Allan

Puck Yeah’s Golden Pucks of 2018

As 2018 winds down and Christmas is in the rear-view mirror, it allows us time to reflect on the year that’s been while stuffing our faces with leftovers and plenty of chocolate.

The NZIHL season is well and truly over for 2018 and with that comes award season. The league has already named their recipients, which you can find at the end of this article, but Puck Yeah would like to recognize the individual achievements of a few special players that we have enjoyed following this year, starting with…

Best Flow

This goes without saying really. Who has the best hair game in the league? Which player leaves us not only astounded by his skill on the ice but the locks of hair flowing from his helmet.

And the award goes to… Stephen Mawson (Botany Swarm)

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The hair is let loose on Spark Arena. Photo: Mike Froger

Some say Mawson is the inspiration for Connor McDavid’s new look.

Best Face Carpet

There isn’t many contenders in the NZIHL for this award. While many sport some form of beard growth that has become synonymous with hockey, only one has a lip sweater that could rival Ned Flanders for the best facial hair offering in 2018.

And the winner of such a prestigious award, is… Joel Rindelaub (Botany Swarm)

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Rindelaub played backup for Team USA during the Ice Hockey Classic tour stop in Queenstown. Photo: James Allan

The mask can’t contain that beast either as Rindelaub’s Ron Swanson-esque moustache has been seen on TV numerous times, either as an extra, a food TV host, or even a guest on The Crowd Goes Wild.

Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Excellence

While Puck Yeah follows the NZIHL and the New Zealand Ice Blacks extensively, we like to pay attention to how the wonder women of the Ice Fernz (and Inline Ferns) perform as well.

So in the spirit of introducing a bunch of new hockey awards this year, we asked Gal Gadot and she said it was cool if we borrowed her lasso to honour New Zealand’s best female hockey player of 2018.

Without further ado, Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Excellence goes to… Anjali Mulari!

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Not only does Mulari represent New Zealand at a senior level in both inline and ice hockey, but she finished second (behind fellow Ice Fern Caitlin Heale) in the scoring race at this year’s IIHF Women’s World Championship in Spain. Both scored 15 points in 5 games, with Mulari notching up 4 goals and 11 assists.

The ‘Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey’ Brick Wall

Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey was an iconic video game of the mid-90s that featured on the Nintendo 64.

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If you don’t remember it or never had the pleasure of playing this gem, it was an arcade hockey game that knew how to turn it up to 11: if a skater was on fire, they could literally set the goal in flames with the puck when scoring. On the other hand, if a goalie stopped five shots in-a-row they would temporarily transform into a brick wall, blocking the entire goal.

While Admirals netminder Csaba Kercso-Magos lifted the Birgel Cup this year, we’re giving this prestigious honour (that we just made up) to… Daniel Lee (Skycity Stampede).

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Better luck next time, puck! Photo: Josh Fraser

3 shutouts in a 16-game regular season is an impressive feat – the Lee dynasty could be well and truly upon us come 2019!

The Silky Mitt

Major League Baseball has the Golden Glove for the best defensive player of each position, we have the Silky Mitt – the best goal that highlighted a player’s stick-handling abilities.

If you saw our ‘Top 10 Goals of 2018’ video then this is a no-brainer, the award goes to… Ross Venus (Canterbury Red Devils).

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The true mark of a great goal is how effortless the player makes it all seem, but there’s no way I’m pulling that off anytime soon!

The Weekend At Bernie’s

‘What the hell could that be?’ you ask… it’s our award for the single most dominant performance by an individual in any round this season.

In other words, this player was such a standout he left the opposition for dead on the ice – they partied hard, just like the movie.

And the winner is… Matt Schneider (Skycity Stampede).

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Photo: James Allan

In round eight against the Red Devils, Schneider ended the weekend with 8 goals and 6 assists, leading the way with his side coming away with the full six competition points.

Those 14 points in two games definitely helped the captain pad his stats and secure the NZIHL’s scoring race from his linemate Mike McRae.

Well that’s our awards wrapped up for 2018, here’s the official awards list:

2018 NZIHL Awards

Birgel Cup Champions: West Auckland Admirals (runner-up: Skycity Stampede)
Finals MVP: Andy Hart, Admirals
League MVP: Paris Heyd, Thunder
Rookie of the Year: Max Hurring, Thunder
Top Scorer: Matt Schneider, Stampede (46 points in 18 games – 22 goals, 24 assists)
Best Goaltender: Daniel Lee, Stampede (13-5 record, .926 SV%, 2.65 GAA, 3 shutouts)
Best Defenceman: Brandon Egli, Thunder (27 points in 17 games – 10 goals, 17 assists)

West Auckland Admirals MVP: Frazer Ellis (25 points in 18 games – 11 goals, 14 assists)
Botany Swarm MVP: Remy Sandoy (7 points in 16 games – 3 goals, 4 assists)
Canterbury Red Devils MVP: Jaxson Lane (8 points in 16 games – 2 goals, 6 assists)
Skycity Stampede MVP: Mike McRae (46 points in 16 games – 19 goals, 27 assists)
Dunedin Thunder MVP: Brandon Egli (stats)

Main photo: Kate Harrison

Puck Yeah’s Top Saves of 2018

It’s been a memorable year for New Zealand ice hockey and Puck Yeah has loved covering every moment of it. Earlier this week we highlighted our top ten goals of the year, but now we shine a spotlight on the NZIHL’s goalies with our top saves of 2018!

Obviously this is subjective so don’t @ me if you disagree with any of the choices here.

8: Rick Parry (Ice Blacks) v Australia
Parry’s calm demeanour in net was a key factor as the Ice Blacks veteran managed to stop all but one of Australia’s 32 shots. The Ice Blacks would end up winning the second of the three-game test series 6-1 to claim a historic series victory on home ice.

Parry enjoyed a solid NZIHL season with the West Auckland Admirals as well , sharing  goaltending duties with Csaba Kercso-Magos – he ended 2018 with a 6-2 record, 3.25 goals against average, .913 save percentage and his first Birgel Cup title.

7: Finley Forbes (Red Devils) v Dunedin Thunder
While it was a trying season for the Canterbury Red Devils, finishing with a 2-14 record to scrap together five competition points, it was a promising year for one of their top young talents.

The stats themselves might not be worth writing home about, but that only highlights a largely problem at hand for the Canterbury side. The teenager, who also played for the New Zealand under-18 team that won their IIHF Division 3B World Championship in Queenstown, pulled off some miraculous saves that showed his true potential.

At age 16, Finley was the youngest player to play in the NZIHL this season. It’s worth noting that while the Admirals’ defence prospect Flynn Jones is 51 days younger, he did not dress for West Auckland in 2018.

6: Csaba Kercso-Magos (Admirals) v Dunedin Thunder
Csaba Junior has gone from strength to strength in recent years, culminating with a championship-winning performance in game two of the 2018 Birgel Cup Finals against the Stampede – he only allowed one goal off an astonishing 41 shots that day.

All that pressure is something the Hungarian-Kiwi netminder has gotten used to, as he too was under fire in the inaugural 2v3 playoff game. The West Auckland Admirals held a 3-1 lead in the third period with the Thunder throwing everything they could on goal to keep their finals hopes alive. However, Kercso-Magos held strong and the rest was history.

He finished the 2018 season with a 9-1 record, 2.77 GAA, .931 SV% plus one shutout.

5: Toby Schuck (Thunder) v Canterbury Red Devils
With Kane Easterbrook getting the majority of the starts for the Dunedin Thunder, the 38-year-old goalie served as a viable backup option for coach Jeff Avery. In five games this season, Schuck held a 3.50 GAA and .899 SV% with a 2-2 record.

Standing at 6-foot-9, we felt it was appropriate to dub the goalie as ‘The Great Wall of Toby’ – you’ll see why with our top 5 best save of 2018.

4: Daniel Lee (Stampede) v Botany Swarm
Lee was named the league’s Best Goaltender in the 2018 NZIHL Awards and with good reason. The Skycity Stampede goalie was nearly impossible to beat some nights with three shutouts to his name over 18 games.

In the final weekend of the regular season Lee was frustrating the Swarm, stopping everything that came his way for a combined 63-save shutout weekend. Still only 21, it’s good to know that the future of the Ice Blacks’ crease is in good hands with Lee – his final stats for 2018 including a 13-5 record, 2.65 GAA and .926 SV%.

Perhaps the league could have an actual awards night to properly celebrate the achievements of its teams and players one day?

3: Joel Rindelaub (Swarm) v Skycity Stampede
Of late it’s felt hard to escape Joel’s face, and while we’re probably partially to blame for that, you can’t deny his star quality. His recent appearances on ‘Jono & Ben’ plus ‘The Crowd Goes Wild’ all help to raise the profile of the sport in New Zealand.

The NZIHL needs great personalities like his to bring in new fans, thankfully the Botany Swarm are smart enough to let the man be who he is. I mean, he even has his own cheer section at Botany home games.

Screen time aside, Rindelaub also had a solid season in-goal for the Swarm finishing fourth amongst the league’s leaders. His desperation glove save to stop the Stampede’s Ryan Strayer from scoring a likely goal in round 5 was one of our favourites.

2: Colin Langham (Swarm) v West Auckland Admirals
Swarm import Colin Langham is another great personality on and off the ice. If you don’t believe me, just watch this video of the goalie mic’d up during practice with Elon University.

With both Langham and Rindelaub being import goalies, under NZIHL rules their minutes had to managed, so their starts were split with Michael Hopkinson. Colin’s most impressive outing coming in round four against West Auckland, the Swarm’s cross-town rivals, with a diving save denying Nick Henderson in the dying seconds.

1: Finley Forbes (Red Devils) v Skycity Stampede
We couldn’t have just one save from Forbes in our countdown. Watch how quick his glove hand is at snatching a juicy rebound opportunity out of the air. That’s number one material right there!

Main photo: Josh Fraser

Puck Yeah’s Top 10 Goals of 2018

2018 has been a fun year with a lot going on in the New Zealand hockey world. Next week we will look at some of the best moments that stick in our memory, but first let’s take a look at some of the best goals!

Obviously this is subjective so don’t @ me if you disagree with any of the choices here.

10: Taylor Rooney & Andy Hart (Admirals) v Botany Swarm
Andy Hart had a great season, capped off by helping the West Auckland Admirals win their first Birgel Cup in the team’s history.

As they swept the defending champion Skycity Stampede (5-4 & 2-1) in a closely contested series, Hart scored the title-winning goal in the third period of game two – ending the historic night with a new trophy plus ‘Finals MVP’ to his name.

9: Jordan Challis & Lucas Bombardier (Swarm) v West Auckland Admirals
The 2018 Ice Hockey Classic was circled on the calendar of many hockey fans around the country with the Admiral and the Botany Swarm playing the curtain-raiser ahead of the big USA v Canada matchup.

Normally the site of Breakers basketball, Spark Arena looked like it was destined to have a hockey rink inside, as if it were Auckland’s answer to the Staples Center.

We can only dream at this stage, but the Swarm and Admirals put on an entertaining display for the large crowd on-hand to witness the occasion. While it wasn’t the only highlight-reel goal of the night, this combination of Challis and Bombardier sticks out for their use of short, sharp passes to get past West Auckland’s goalie Rick Parry.

8: Matt Schneider (Ice Blacks) v DPR Korea
The New Zealand Ice Blacks fell just short of the prize at the IIHF World Championship, losing their final game to hosts Spain. But earlier in the tournament the Kiwis were dominate, winning 5-2 over Israel, 7-1 against Luxembourg and 5-1 versus rivals Mexico.

But the Ice Blacks biggest scoreline of the tournament came against DPR Korea. The North Koreans will be hoping they don’t see the 6-foot-7 Matt Schneider again anytime soon – the Stampede captain scored 3 goals and 2 assists as part of a 12-4 whitewash, with Frazer Ellis also tallying a hat-trick.

7: Callum Burns (Stampede) v Dunedin Thunder
While Callum is tasked with defending the Stampede blue line, he’s not afraid to show off his burst of speed to create scoring chances up the ice. Burns finished the season with 2 goals and 10 assists, his breakaway goal against the Thunder in round 9 was a memorable highlight from the 22-year-old.

6: Benjamin Gavoille (Thunder) v Botany Swarm
Gavoille recently debuted for New Zealand during September’s three-game test series against Australia as part of the 2018 Winter Games. Originally from Chamonix, France, the forward was also named into the Ice Blacks wider training squad ahead of their 2019 campaign.

During the sixth round of the NZIHL season, Gavoille and Paris Heyd combined for a spectacular goal to give Dunedin a 3-2 lead over the Swarm, eventually winning 8-2. But it was Benjamin’s impressive strength in front of Botany’s net that stunned the home crowd, wowed the Thunder bench, and earned him the number six slot in Puck Yeah’s Goals of the Year countdown.

5: Jamieson Jones (Ice Fernz) v Spain
The Ice Fernz were well and truly tested at the 2018 IIHF Women’s World Championship, finishing fourth. With 11-4 and 6-3 wins over Turkey and Romania respectively, New Zealand’s top ladies showed they meant business.

And while they came agonizing close with a 4-3 shootout lose to Iceland, I will remember the 2018 Fernz for their determined effort against gold-medal winners, and hosts, Spain.

Up 5-1, it looked like the Spaniards had fallen asleep on the penalty kill. Initially Jamieson Jones was unable to keep the puck in the zone, meaning the rest of the side had to skate back on-side but once they had, Jones deked her way down the left side, completely uncontested and free to rifle the puck past the goalie for a thrilling powerplay goal.

4: Patrick McLean & Matt Schneider (Stampede) v Canterbury Red Devils
With 22 goals in a short season, do you really think Schneider would only feature once? But all credit has to go to Patrick McLean (Volpe) for his near-perfect stretch pass from our of the Stampede zone towards a streaking Schneider as he stalked Canterbury’s blue line.

Red Devils netminder Finley Forbes did his best to attempt a desperate poke check, but before he knew it the puck was behind him and the Queenstown faithful was going nuts for the captain.

3: Paris Heyd (Thunder) v Canterbury Red Devils
‘Captain Fantastic’ is what Dunedin’s play-by-play announcer Matt Wiffen dubs Paris Heyd during his spectacular call of the Thunder captain’s individual effort against Canterbury during round six.

While it wasn’t on the breakaway, Heyd may as well have been with the amount of room afforded to him by the Red Devils defence. Following on from the feed by Tristan Darling, the captain found himself with only one defender in his way while three black sweaters trail on the backcheck. With a quick cut towards the goal, the puck was through the five-hole and the 2018 MVP had one more tally to his name.

Heyd finished the 2018 season with 36 points in 17 games – that’s 15 goals and 21 assists.

2: Tara Tissink (Inline Ferns) v Canada
I tossed around the idea of this being the number one goal of 2018 because I love it so much.

The Inline Ferns were faced with a 1-0 defeat to Canada as part of the Inline World Champs in Asiago, Italy. But with 27.5 seconds remaining, captain Tara Tissink gained possession of the puck and went around the Canadian defence to secure a 1-1 draw.

The icing on the cake? Well, that would be the taunting celly in front of Canada’s bench.

As I wrote earlier this year, this team opened my eyes to how exciting inline hockey can be. I look forward to seeing what they can produce in 2019 with so much young talent looking to push through the ranks.

1: Ross Venus (Red Devils) v Skycity Stampede
While Tara’s goal is great, this Ross Venus wraparound goal is an all-star effort worthy of being number one. The way the British import cuts through the Stampede is a joy to watch. Come back next year, Ross!

PUCK YEAH 47: Travis Crickard, The Exit Interview

Before the NZIHL season started we met Kelowna Rockets assistant coach Travis Crickard, who was in New Zealand to learn from the All Blacks while also helping the Botany Swarm in their quest for a fifth title.

Fast forward to now and Travis is back in Canada for the 2018-19 season, hoping to help guide the Rockets to a WHL Championship and the Memorial Cup.

But before departing from NZ, Travis caught up with Puck Yeah’s Logan Swinkels for an in-depth chat about his time in the NZIHL, where he sees improvements being made, and the current state of the Swarm franchise.

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Travis Crickard in the studio with Puck Yeah podcast hosts Logan Swinkels and Joe Durie.