NZIHL weekend two preview: First games for Botany, Dunedin, West Auckland

(Photo: Gerard O'Brien)
(Photo: Gerard O’Brien)

After an exciting first week for the NZIHL, week number two is looking to keep up the pace. The Dunedin Thunder will make their way down to the Hive in Botany to start their 2014 campaign taking on the Swarm.

24 year old, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native, Kolten Fyfe will be suiting up for the Thunder for his first NZIHL season. Fyfe has spent the five years in Canada’s Junior A system and the jump to playing hockey in another country should be one experience he’ll never forget. France’s Guillaume Leclancher will be entering his third season; second as a member of the Thunder. A solid part of Dunedin’s blue line, Leclancher finished the 2013 season with six points in 15 games. Another returning forward, Martin Pokorny of the Czech Republic will be monumental in flanking both Andre Robichaud and sharpshooter Paris Heyd.

Expect a lot of the same lineup for the Swarm that was iced last year. Solid goaltending and fire from the forwards will keep this battle in close.

Both weekend games will take place down at the Paradise Ice Arena in Botany. Puck drop will be around 4:30 local time.

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(Photo: Tarei Mackey)
(Photo: Tarei Mackey)

Coming off of a dramatic two game win over the Southern Stampede, the Canterbury Red Devils will be heading into this weekend series with a bounty over their heads. Revenge might be on the table from the rest of the league for Hayden Argyle’s knockout punch to the face of Stampede’s Matthew Schneider.(A bounty which I think is ridiculous as it was nothing more than a hockey play gone wrong). It makes for an interesting story line.

The West Auckland Admirals have picked up left winger Glen Patterson off of the Bobcaygeon Bucks in central Ontario. Goaltender Rick Parry, who will be returning after playing pro in France, had his scouting cap on and managed to bring back 27 year old Yoann Chauviere. The feisty defender racked up 49 penalty minutes in 26 games.

Another home and home stand in Canterbury at the Alpine Ice Arena. Puck drop for both games is 4:45 local time.

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One on One with Adelaide Adrenaline’s Charlie Huber

(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)
(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)

Charlie Huber is a New Zealander who has recently made the jump from the NZIHL to the Australian Ice Hockey League. After growing up in West Germany, Huber found a home in New Zealand and suited up for the Botany Swarm, winning 4 championships and presiding as alternate captain. He has played numerous IIHF tournaments as a member of the New Zealand Ice Blacks who won silver in 2011.

March Hockey: You played several years with the Botany Swarm of the NZIHL, what was it like to make the jump to the AIHL with the Adelaide Adrenaline?

Charlie Huber: Changing from the NZIHL to AIHL was a step up. As seen by the Trans- Tasman (March’s note: an inter-league tournament) results last year, there is still a difference between the leagues. Also I find the AIHL is able to attract better import players because of better financial backing. This resulting in a faster pace game. But things can change as we know, the Adrenaline team however helped me to adjust quickly. They’re a good bunch.

MH: What was it like representing New Zealand at the World Championships and coming back with a medal?

CH: I was and am very proud every time I put on the NZ jersey. It’s an awesome country and when I think about all the history, people, nature and culture I get to represent, it certainly doesn’t require much further motivation to go into a game. Bringing a medal back, I think, we deserved as all the boys, management and the coaching staff put in the effort for it. Of course it was fantastic to get the recognition for all the effort we put in during the off- season.

(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)
(Photo: adelaideadrenaline.com.au)

MH: Growing up, what player influenced you the most?

CH: I think growing up I had a few influential players. There were at the beginning a few players from my local senior team at EC Pfaffenhofen. One example would be Roman Mucha, who was an incredible forward with an impressive skill set. Another person that really comes to mind is Bob Sullivan. He was on the ice a few times with my junior teams and displayed amazing skills. Of course being a former NHL player helped my admiration for him.

MH: If you could play with any player, past or present, who would it be and why?

CH: I would really like to play again with my junior team from EHC Klostersee. That group of players was great to be around. All mates from early age and fantastic understanding of other players on the ice. It was all about passing and everyone playing the same system and of course it was nice to have so much success.

MH: Where would you like to see your hockey career go from here?

CH: I had some trouble with injuries this year. So I would like to build up more consistency and get back 100% fit again. Also I hope I can stay away from big injuries in the future. Next year I am hoping to be able to represent NZ in Spain and hopefully we’ll be able to get away with a gold this time!

Botany Swarm vs West Auckland Admirals Weekend Preview

Another important set will take place this weekend for the Botany Swarm as they are in the hunt for first and second  place. Along with the Canterbury Red Devils, Dunedin Thunder and the Southern Stampede, it’s a VERY tight race in the standings.

(Photo: nzihl.com)
(Photo: nzihl.com)

The Swarm pulled off a stunning victory against the Canterbury Red Devils in the first game of their last weekend set. Hitting the double digits mark with 10 goals, the Swarm capitalize on the Red Devils early mistakes. The second game however, they were halted by the Red Devils by a tight score of 4-3. Botany and Canterbury have split their season series as well.

Over the course of the weekend, Brandon Contratto, Evan Mackintosh, and Mickey Rhodes combined for an astonishing 13 points. Look for them to break out even more this weekend.

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Admirals this season. Their last weekend set saw them pick up their first season win, a 6-2 final over the Southern Stampede. I don’t expect them to be standing down this weekend. They’re going to make the Swarm earn their spot in the standings as I can see at least one game heading into overtime.

Get down to Avondale this weekend to check out the Botany Swarm’s last 2 games of the regular season. Puck drops at 5pm local time.

For my Canadian friends that are nightowls, you can catch the action at NZIHL.tv starting at 1am Saturday morning!

Botany Swarm vs Canterbury Red Devils Weekend Preview

The Botany Swarm will have their work cut out for the them as they face the current Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio champions, the Canterbury Red Devils. You could also argue the the Red Devils have their work cut out of them as well.

(Photo credit: nzihl.com)
(Photo credit: nzihl.com)

The Botany Swarm split their last weekend set with the Dunedin Thunder. In their final meeting of the season, the Swarm notched 8 goals and the Thunder only responded with one. The big story of that game though was longtime Botany Swarm forward Josh Hay notching his 100th point in an astonishing 100 games. At only 24 years old, Hay definitely has a long career ahead of him with the Botany Swarm, and the New Zealand Ice Hockey League in general.

(Photo credit: nzihl.com)
(Photo credit: nzihl.com)

The Canterbury Red Devils sit tied for first with the Dunedin Thunder. Depending on how all the games work out this weekend, the standings could change dramatically. The Red Devils completely overpowered and dismantled the West Auckland Admirals in their last weekend set to keep the
Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio trophy at home in Canterbury. Chris Eaden and Brett Speirs will be looking to add to their point totals. It will be interesting to see who starts in goal this weekend for the Red Devils as well.

This is one weekend match up you do not want to miss. I plan on setting my timer to be up at 1am to take it all in. Make sure you either get down to Botany to watch it live or tune into NZIHL.tv and pick up all the action. Puck drops for the first game at 5pm local time.

Swarm Upset Dunedin; Split Series

The Botany Swarm pulled off a shocker Sunday afternoon as they toppled off first place leaders Dunedin Thunder in a thriller at ParadIce arena.

9273268597_87bd2ec06a_bComing off of an overtime loss to the Thunder the previous day, the Swarm were bound and determined to knock them off their feet. Jumping off of the momentum of the extra overtime point, from the first period on the Swarm kept the “Hive” on their feet and their heads in the game. Two goals coming from  Mickey Rhodes brought them into the second period.

It was a game of doubles after that. Doubling the first period’s score were KC Ball and Evan MackIntosh. By the time the third period rolled around the game had ended at 8-1.

Got to hand it to Dunedin though as they stuck through it to the very end as a hard fought battle played out. Dunedin still sits a top of the standings as they are now tied with the Canterbury Red Devils.

Botany’s next home game is July 27th and 28th when the Red Devils come to town. Dunedin will square off with the Southern Stampede July 26th and 27th in Queenstown.

Dunedin Thunder vs Botany Swarm Weekend Preview

Dunedin_Thunder_logoThe Dunedin Thunder will be looking to keep the ball rolling and remain in top spot as they visit the Botany Paradice and take on the Swarm.

In their last weekend set before the bye week, the Thunder earned two wins against the Canterbury Red Devils and reclaimed their top spot. Both games were tight until the end while the Sunday match was a close one as the game headed to overtime. It only took 18 seconds before Mathew Enright scored on an assist from Matt Canaday. (Check out more of Dunedin’s import talent.)

Botany_Swarm_logoThe Botany Swarm are currently in a three way tie for second place. That will all change this weekend however depending on the outcome of the games. The Swarm split their last weekend set to the Southern Stampede. League points leader Brandon Contratto will be in the lineup looking to add to more to his impressive stats.

The Swarm are eager to knock off the first place Dunedin Thunder. Will Contratto and the gang be enough to do it? Find out this weekend at the Botany ParadIce.

The Teams Of The New Zealand Ice Hockey League

I’ve been very intrigued lately by the game of hockey being played in non traditional hockey markets. I’m sure you’ve noticed that by now. I love giving these teams and leagues more exposure on this side of the pond because lord knows their hard work deserves it. With that, let’s take a look at the 5 teams in the NZIHL.

Botany_Swarm_logo1. Botany Swarm – Auckland, New Zealand

The Botany Swarm were one of the first inaugaral teams in the NZIHL. First named the South Auckland Swarm, they made the switch to Botany to better reflect their origins. The Swarm are 4 time NZIHL champions and currently sit tied for second in this year’s standings.

ADMIRALS2. West Auckland Admirals – Auckland, New Zealand

Another team that was apart of the inguaral beginnings of the NZIHL, the West Auckland Admirals are also, you guessed it, based out of Auckland. The team has improved leaps and bounds over the years despite winning zero championships. They currently sit last place.

RED_DEVILS3. Canterbury Red Devils – Christchurch, New Zealand

The Red Devils are currently your NZIHL reigning champions hoping to make a repeat this year. Based out of Christchurch, they have 2 championships under their belt and are one of the stronger teams in the league. I’ve personally taking a liking to the Red Devils so be on the look out for game recaps. They currently sit tied for second.

Dunedin_Thunder_logo4. Dunedin Thunder – Dunedin, New Zealand

Found in 2008 the Dunedin Thunder are currently the first place holders in this year’s season. After struggling like most expansion teams do, the Thunder have bolted their way through the ranks and are stronger as ever. I have a feeling they will give the championship a good run this season. They currently are in the midst of a 4 game win streak.

STAMPEDE5. Southern Stampede – Queenstown, New Zealand

The Stampede are 2 time NZIHL champs and are a force to be reckoned with. A physical team, they bring a new style to the New Zealand game. Every year they also hold an exhibition game with the New Zeland Ice Blacks, the country’s national team. They currently sit tied for second.

The games in NZ get as tight as you can get making for great hockey. This league thoroughly excites me and I am glad to be vocal about the league in North America and my side of the globe.