Puck-er up for a showdown
Kiwis will now be able to judge for themselves if American comedian Rodney Dangerfield was joking when he said ‘‘I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out’’.
National Hockey League stalwarts – two of them noted ‘‘enforcers’’ – are in each side for a three-match series between Team Canada and Team USA, which starts in Auckland today.
Canadian captain Nolan Yonkman, who now plays in Finland, is a Youtube star of ice hockey fights, while US captain Zenon Konopka is a noted NHL enforcer.
Enforcers protect star players and goalies from dirty or violent play; they are also called ‘‘goons’’.
But while the tough guy is the stereotype ice hockey player, the modern game is said to be faster and more skilful than it was at the turn of the century, out-and-out enforcers are a rare being.
Those who rate ice hockey the greatest game in the world point to its speed, skill, team play, warriorlike qualities and goal celebrations.
For New Zealanders who haven’t seen the national men’s and women’s leagues, there’s the chance to enjoy the full North American experience – ice hockey, plus, Budweiser beer, chili dogs and maple burgers.
Game two is at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium tomorrow, with Queenstown hosting the final game on Thursday. That one is sold out.
Wellington’s game – touted as the first time in the southern hemisphere ice hockey has graced a major stadium – gives those in the capital a chance to see the game, as there is no New Zealand ice hockey side based there.
The men’s league consists of Botany Swarm (Auckland), Canterbury Red Devils (Christchurch), Dunedin Thunder, Skycity Stampede (Queenstown) and West Auckland Admirals, while the women’s features Auckland, Canterbury and Southern.