One on One with Justin Findlay, the Canterbury Red Devils and the NZIHL

jfHPFdSMIn just over a week’s time, the New Zealand Ice Hockey League will be celebrating and kicking off it’s 10th season. As always, March Hockey will have complete coverage of this monumental occasion as best as I possibly can from here in Eastern Canada.

The defending champs, the Canterbury Red Devils have a bold new look with new jerseys to fend off the competition. (You’ll have to tune into the game to catch them. They’re gorgeous.) I caught up with friend of the blog, goaltender Justin Findlay on what lays ahead for the boys in red.

March Hockey: It’s early but what do you think the Red Devils will have to do to repeat as champions yet again? How are the imports looked at to help the team?

Justin Findlay: As a team we will have to come together both defensively and offensively for the entire 60 minutes. We are known for being able to score in bunches, but we also need to have a strong focus on defensive play. Our imports are looked to as leaders on and off the ice and we take a lot from having them here for the short season. Imports have always been an important feature of the NZIHL; helping local players develop, as well as being able to have the opportunity to play and practice alongside professional players. Some of the imports we have had/have in the NZIHL have been drafted into leagues as high as the NHL and have played with/against players we idolize.

971646_10151901929437345_1204126200_nMH: What kind of system does your new coach have in place? Is it difficult to transition from different coaches year after year?

JF: Coach Rout has been around NZ ice-hockey playing and coaching for almost 20 years; he has been a valuable piece of the Red Devils team since 2012 and his transition to head coach has gone as smooth as anyone could imagine. We all respect him through his time as player and coach and we all believe that he is the right man for the job.

MH: For yourself, how do you see your play for the upcoming season?

JF: All I want is an opportunity to help the boys win some games this season. Last season was not the greatest personally, but I am still proud to be a part of the defending NZIHL champs.

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

MH: How have you prepared through the off-season?

JF: The NZIHL season ended last August and I started training in September doing 2 months of cardio based training with another Red Devils member Josh Greenwood.  I then transitioned to doing weights and strength work and have been in the gym 6 times a week since Christmas as well as training on the ice 2 times per week. With the lack of actual ice time, we try to do workouts that simulate trainings/games and that will benefit us the most when we actually get on the ice.

MH: Should the rest of the league be ready to take on the new and improved Red Devils?

JF: I believe we have the most talent in the league at any position. We have a group of core guys that have been with the team for 6-8 years now and with the added imports we will always be a threat to any team. With that being said, I look forward to a competitive season this year!

The Canterbury Red Devils are in action with the first game of the NZIHL season, June 7th when the Southern Stampede invade the Alpine Ice arena in Christchurch.

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Q&A With Canterbury, New Zealand Red Devils Goaltender Justin Findlay

Last week we saw how hockey has taken off in Wales, United Kingdom with our Q&A with Matt Richards of the Cardiff Bay Lightning. This week we head down under.

RED_DEVILSJustin Findlay is a 25 year old Canadian playing goaltender for the Canterbury Red Devils of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League. Most people don’t even think of hockey when they hear of that country. Here’s what Justin had to tell me about the ever growing game in Kiwi land.

March Hockey: How did you end up in New Zealand, let alone playing hockey there?

Justin Findlay: I was originally born in Sudbury, Ontario. My father is an air traffic controller and with his job he moves around a lot. I moved here when I was 4/5 years old and started playing inline hockey at age 10. I then transitioned to ice hockey at 12 and continued to play both until 17 years old when I switched to ice permanently.

MH: How is the hockey there compared to that of European leagues or back home in North America? Are fans just as passionate?

971646_10151901929437345_1204126200_nJF: The league is growing in skill level and fans every season, we have a very passionate support base and I firmly believe the Southern Stampede have the most passionate fans in the NZIHL. I would compare our league to a Canadian major junior league in terms of skill level, although as I said earlier it improves every season.

MH: Is there a lot of support for hockey in New Zealand? Or even Australia?

JF: There is a great, loyal fan base down under, in both countries! New Zealanders really enjoy the sport but the problem is getting them down to their first game. We find that once people have seen one game it is quite hard to keep them away!

MH: Growing up, who was your biggest influence as a goaltender?? What is your style of play like?

296281_10151873877787345_143077362_nJF: Growing up I was heavily influenced by Dominik Hasek, Terry Sawchuck, Curtis Joseph, Johnny Bower, Patrick Roy and ‘Battlin’ Billy Smith. I play a hybrid-butterfly style of goal-tending and I love to challenge shooters and come quite far out of my net. I am confident in my puck handling, although my team members may not be as confident!

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

JF: If I could play with ANY player ever it would have to be Scott Stevens of the New Jersey Devils. I know he would protect me in net and would give me some huge hits to fawn over on the ice.

Head on over to http://www.reddevils.co.nz for more info on the team and the NZIHL!