Puck-er up for a show­down

Marlborough Express - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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