Flat­mates score bronze

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By BEN ROGERS

THREE Kings­land flat­mates are on a high af­ter pick­ing up a bronze medal in their favourite sport - ice hockey.

The Ice Blacks com­peted at the world champs in Spain this month and one house­hold con­trib­uted three play­ers to the na­tional side.

Nick Hen­der­son, 23, lives with fel­low Ice Blacks Sam Moses and Nick Craig who all play for the West Auck­land Ad­mi­rals.

They were up against some tough com­pe­ti­tion from China, Mex­ico, Turkey, South Africa and host na­tion Spain.

The team showed promis­ing form in the open­ing match by beat­ing Turkey 6-3.

Hen­der­son says the high­light of the tour­na­ment was the hard­fought win against China in over­time.

‘‘About four or five years ago we were los­ing to China on a reg­u­lar ba­sis and by a big mar­gin,’’ he says.

‘‘Last year was my first year, so to beat them last year and this year, it shows how far New Zealand hockey has come.’’

Moses is a per­sonal trainer by day and plays a big part in keep­ing his flat­mates match-fit.

Train­ing camps also pro­vide a great op­por­tu­nity to dust off the cob­webs be­fore such a big event, Hen­der­son says.

‘‘It’s tough to get the full side to­gether. But we have a week-long squad camp in early Fe­bru­ary and it gets ev­ery­one used to the sys­tems we run,’’ he says.

‘‘Be­fore tour­na­ment started we had 12 days in the Czech Repub­lic and that’s the best part, we are on the ice four hours a day and had four warm-up games against lo­cal Czech teams, which are re­ally tough.’’

The team had three wins and two losses in the champs, go­ing down to Mex­ico and the even­tual win­ners – Spain.

Coach An­dreas Kaisser says the re­sult means the team, cur­rently ranked 37th in the world, may jump up one place in the rank­ings.

Kaisser says the in­ter­na­tional tour­na­ments are ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial for player de­vel­op­ment.

‘‘It gives our play­ers a good chance to com­pare them­selves to other coun­tries and to see what level they are at,’’ he says.

Kaisser has seen in­ter­est in the sport grow in the last decade but says it still isn’t at the level he would like it to be.

‘‘I be­lieve the big­gest step to go fur­ther with our na­tional team is to get enough money so we can ac­tu­ally travel and se­lect the best play­ers from New says.

‘‘This would gen­er­ate more com­pe­ti­tion for po­si­tions in the team and drive younger play­ers to be­come a na­tional team player.’’

Zealand,’’ he

Photo: BEN ROGERS

Great shot: Hazel Coward with her hole-in­one tro­phy she re­ceived in 1980 af­ter scor­ing an ace on the ninth hole at the Whit­ford Park Coun­try Club.

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