Have puck will travel for Levin girl

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By PAUL WIL­LIAMS

‘Am­ber breathes hockey, she is out in the shed daily prac­tis­ing her stick han­dling and shoot­ing. She is ded­i­cated and com­mit­ted to the sport, I’m so proud of her drive and mo­ti­va­tion, es­pe­cially at such a ’ young age. — Donna Metcalfe, mother of emerg­ing ic hockey star Am­ber Metcalfe.

It snows in Levin about once or twice ev­ery cen­tury yet some­how the town has pro­duced an ice hockey player who will take on the world.

And the clos­est thing that Am­ber Metcalfe might find to ice in her tem­per­ate home town is an early morn­ing win­ter pud­dle or an ice cube in the freezer.

But that hasn’t stopped the 14-year-old school­girl from be­ing picked for the U18 New Zealand women’s team to com­pete at an in­ter­na­tional event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emi­rates, in April.

Metcalfe be­longed to the Levin Thun­der In­line Hockey Club and had shown rare tal­ent — al­biet on roller blades — since join­ing five years ago ac­cord­ing to coach and men­tor Ar­den Phillips.

“In 25 years of coach­ing I haven’t seen any­thing quite like it,” he said.

“For some­one who is from Levin where there is no ice . . . I am telling you now that this is some­thing spe­cial.”

The clos­est ice rink to Levin was in Pe­tone, more than an hour’s drive away. Metcalfe trained there twice weekly and that meant for some late school nights some­times not get­ting back un­til 11.30pm.

The tran­si­tion to ice all started when Metcalfe at­tended an ice hockey camp and New Zealand trial in Auck­land last Oc­to­ber where they held scrim­mage ses­sions, games and train­ing ses­sions.

“The skill sets are sim­i­lar but there are some tech­nique changes needed — one can help with the other,” he said.

Metcalfe also made the train­ing squad for the New Zealand U18 Women’s in­line team who are at­tend­ing the World Roller Games in Barcelona in June, in what Phillips de­scribed as the Olympics of the sport.

She was pinch­ing her­self about the year ahead.

“I can’t be­lieve I get to travel to Abu Dhabi to play ice hockey and I’ll get to ride a camel,” she said.

Her mother Donna Metcalfe said the garage at their Levin home was now a shrine to hockey with a goal and all her tro­phies and play­ing shirts adorn­ing the walls.

“Am­ber breathes hockey, she is out in the shed daily prac­tis­ing her stick han­dling and shoot­ing. She is ded­i­cated and com­mit­ted to the sport, I’m so proud of her drive and mo­ti­va­tion, es­pe­cially at such a young age,” she said.

“We are lucky within our club to have so many se­nior mem­bers that have rep­re­sented New Zealand and will­ing to en­cour­age and sup­port our younger mem­bers. It’s a huge fam­ily club and great to be part of.”

Phillips said Levin Thun­der had a forged a good rep­u­ta­tion for pro­duc­ing play­ers and teams that not only per­formed well at na­tional level, but also con­ducted them­selves pro­fes­sion­ally.

He said that rep­u­ta­tion helped in the eyes of na­tional se­lec­tors and four other play­ers had gained NZ se­lec­tion, in what was a coup for the club.

Sammy Hay­wood, 16, had also won se­lec­tion for the U18 tour­na­ment, while Zyran Hurst, 14, Brook­land Lang­don, 14, and Jeremy Healey, 12, were picked for NZ teams com­pet­ing at the Ju­nior In­line Hockey World Cham­pi­onship in Hawaii in July.

Ka­t­rina Ed­wards, from Levin, would also be at­tend­ing as man­ager of the NZ Masters team.

Phillips was full of praise for how hard the play­ers trained, and sin­gled out Hay­wood and Metcalfe for spe­cial men­tion.

“They are not hard to mo­ti­vate. They are the hard­est work­ing girls in the coun­try,” he said.

“I’m not just say­ing this be­cause I work with them.”

The Levin In­line Hockey Club use Horowhenua Events Cen­tre as their rink. Metcalfe joined the club in 2014 and had played in the In­line Hockey New Zealand (IHNZ) Na­tional Cham­pi­onships ev­ery year since.

She made the New Zealand Ju­nior Women’s team for the Ocea­nia In­line Hockey Cham­pi­onships against Aus­tralia in Hamil­ton in April last year and said she loved her sport.

“I have made so many friends around New Zealand play­ing ice and in­line hockey,” she said.

To meet some of the cost of at­tend­ing the over­seas events her fam­ily was or­gan­is­ing a fundraiser night at Levin Cos­mopoli­tian Club next month.

Mean­while, it will be a big year for Levin in­line hockey as the club would host the na­tional cham­pi­onships.

The New Zealand com­pe­ti­tion would start in late Septem­ber and would be held at Horowhenua Events Cen­tre with more than 80 teams com­pet­ing.

Levin in­line hockey player Am­ber Metcalfe has made sev­eral New Zealand teams and is off to Abu Dhabi and pos­si­bly Barcelona or Hawaii too.

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