The NZIHL is an amateur hockey league based out of New Zealand. It’s creation in 2005 was a way to help the top players in the area have international potential. Rivaled by near by Australia and the AIHL, New Zealand wanted a place where the home grown hockey loving players and fans could thrive.
A reason for it’s growth over the years is that fact that there season takes place during the offseason of most professional hockey leagues. Many players flock down under to stay in shape as each team is allowed an unlimited number of Australian talent as they don’t count as imports and only up to 4 players from overseas. The only drawback is how much playing time they actually have on the ice. If the team acquires an import goaltender, he is only allowed to play for 60% of his teams minutes.
The league is made up of 5 teams; 2 on the North Island and 3 on the South. During the season a game entitled the “Skate Of Origin” is held almost like an All-Star game between the two islands. It’s a fun way to get everyone involved and have support for the game.
In case you haven’t had a chance to check it out, I had the opportunity to speak with the goaltender of the Canterbury Red Devils, Justin Findlay which you can read here.
It’s nice to see the sport thriving in non traditional hockey markets. Findlay also incorporated a nice Q&A about the league, be sure to check that out as well.