2014 NZIHL Season: Downloadable Schedule!

Just a short and sweet update from me for now — I’m hoping to get back to blogging a bit more regularly again soon, but since I’m in the middle of twelve different things right now, I’m just gonna dash on through and leave this right here:

Downloadable ics file for the 2014 NZIHL Schedule

Importing this file into your google calendar or other similar device should automatically give you the match, date, game start times (well, warm up start times) and location. It should auto populate with your local time zone for the convenience of anyone overseas who’s planning on catching the livestreams, too.

Let me know if you have any problems, and please feel free to share this widely!

Enjoy the end of the NHL season, the playoffs, and remember the NZIHL will be starting up again as well in June — looking forward to catching up with you all again then!

 

 

Wasn’t it April five minutes ago?

I just want to get a tiny, fairly personal postscript for the 2013 NZIHL season posted today — and more specifically, in a longer-than-140-characters format — before it runs the risk of being buried somewhere in the middle of the To Write List That Ate Manhattan, so here goes nothing:

I just want to take this opportunity to thank a whole bunch of people for the awesome experiences I’ve had over the 2013 NZIHL season.

In addition to being able to watch a ton of really great hockey this year — frankly, a reward in and of itself — I also had the opportunity to do commentary for a few of the games that were livestreamed this year. It’s been a ton of fun, and quite the learning curve, and I’m deeply grateful to everyone who’s tuned in and been supportive.

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Bring Back Puck!

I know, I know: long time, no blog… so I’m going to break the ice with a really quick post now and then we’ll see what happens. :D

Sometimes it’s very easy for people to make mock of the NHL preseason — rosters are a little half-hearted, there’s only pride on the line and no one wants to get injured, and all that kind of thing, but as a new fan I still find that all really interesting in and of itself. Mileage may vary on that, I know.

In contrast, the hockey scene in New Zealand is still small enough that the NZIHL preseason is something that I think everyone should be excited about, regardless. As well as a chance to check out new rosters – and new imports, when they’ve been able to arrive ahead of time! – it is, simply speaking, a chance to get to watch more hockey.

And frankly, I don’t think any of us get to see enough hockey down under to be able to take that for granted, so I for one am definitely excited to be heading out tonight to catch the Botany Swarm taking on the West Auckland Admirals (and I apologise in advance for when I trip up and call them the Avondale Admirals by mistake, because who am I to stand in the way of alliteration!) in their first preseason game tonight.

It sounds like the weekend’s opening match between the Canterbury Red Devils and the Dunedin Thunder was a bit of a barn-burner (8-5? I think?), so I guess for the goalies’ sakes I hope the scoreline up here in Auckland doesn’t follow suit, but I’m definitely excited to see what everyone does this season…

 

(And go the Swarm!)

Wear That On Your Sleeve: Swarm vs Admirals//Monday 27th August [recap]

What’s that, this game was almost three months ago? Uhhh… oops. But hey, I once wrote up an exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three years after the fact, so let’s just roll with this and get on to it.

When last we left the 2012 NZIHL regular season, the Botany Swarm had broken a losing streak of mumblelookletsjustnotthinkaboutitokay by defeating the West Auckland Admirals 6-3 in one of the more exciting games of the season, destroying the Admirals’ hope of a season sweep.

The final game for both Auckland teams – and the final NZIHL regular season game full stop – saw a rematch on the Monday night, contrary to the usual Saturday-Sunday scheduling out at the Avondale rink, and it certainly made my work day go faster to have hockey to look forward to at the end. With a frankly stunning six game misconducts having been handed out on the Sunday night, both teams would be working with a short bench, a factor which would affect the injury-ravaged Swarm far more acutely, and one which would certainly appear to have impacted the outcome of the game.

The eventual score was 6-4 to the Admirals, as they came back from a 3-1 deficit and closed out their season with a home victory. And due to the excellent efforts of Slapshot Productions, this game is actually available for viewing on YouTube. [Warning: video will autoplay!] I haven’t had a chance to sit down and watch it in full myself yet, but I plan to do so and then revisit this post to see what other observations – or changed ones! – I might want to add after a chance to review.

The Swarm had the clear advantage through the first period, with KC Ball and Andrew Hay scoring to take Botany to a 2-0 lead, before Frazer Ellis was able to pot a short-handed goal in the last two minutes to get the Admirals on the board.

The Swarm looked strong initially going into the second, stretching out to a two goal lead again on the back of an Ian Wannamaker goal at even strength, but the Admirals were able to put extra pressure on in the latter half of the period, with Edward Commons, Ryan Blouin and Sam Moses all scoring goals to give the Admirals the lead going into the third period.

The Admirals’ domination on the scoreboard continued, with Ellis scoring his second, and Gareth McLeish icing it with a powerplay goal with three minutes remaining. The Swarm were able to get one more in the final frame, with Keegan Harnett scoring on the power play with just under three minutes remaining, but weren’t able to close the gap any further.

Despite the loss, the Swarm made a valiant effort in what was the closest thing to a war of attrition on ice that I’ve ever seen. I have to commend the team for the clear demonstration of discipline and intensity of their effort, as there really was no point where they gave up on the game. It also has to be mentioned that by the end of the game they were down to ten skaters in total, and played the majority of the game with only four defensemen after Maxime Bettez – who had been playing forward that game anyway – was injured in the first period, and Sam Boniface was given a game misconduct in the third period.  I’ve never wished for the ability to easily examine TOI in the NZIHL more. Damn, guys. That looked exhausting.

To conclude, and speaking as a thoroughly partisan observer — while it sucked out loud to lose this one, I think the fact the game was as close as it was (and that Botany held the lead for just over half the game!) really does speak well for the team, and I could not have been prouder of them.

Better luck next year, guys.

As usual,  after the jump I’ll go into a bit more detail on the play-by-play. Reading it in the voice of your favourite commentators is totally optional.

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Caveat Spectator: “International Ice Hockey”

I’ve been interested to see some buzz starting up across the ditch about the planned International Ice Hockey “Canada vs USA” games which are due to be held in Melbourne and Sydney in 2013. After some discussion over Twitter, I think it’s absolutely worthy of some discussion in a venue more conducive to conversation.  (Or, y’know, to my natural sentence length…)

As the organisers state in their advertising, this follows on from an initial foray in 2011, when the Douglas Webber Group organised three games under the same aegis in Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin, which drew large crowds to see hockey on an NHL-sized arena. I was in attendance at two of the three games, and I want to share my impressions and experience — because while I do not necessarily intend to sway anyone’s opinion one way or another about the value of this enterprise, I do think it’s crucial to manage expectations. Given my own strong convictions about the importance of growing the game Downunder, I wish to make this information available to a wider audience so that anyone who is wanting to attend this event will be able to do so with a clear sense of what, exactly, they’re paying for.

And what you’re paying for, largely, is the ‘Experience’.

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“Lots of planets have a North!”//Reflections ahead of the 2012 Skate of Origin

Long time no see, huh? Recaps from the final Swarm/Admirals game and the Grand Final are definitely still on the way, they’ve just been derailed by a multitude of completely uninteresting excuses. However, right now, we’ve got just under 12 hours until the very last entry on the 2012 NZIHL calendar, and that’s what tonight’s post is going to cover.

…let’s not call this a preview, though. It’s more of a stream of consciousness about 2012’s Skate of Origin, as delivered by an extremely sleep-deprived and somewhat loopy blogger. Have fun. :D

First things first, though; let us not bury the lede! Thanks to the generosity of super-duper awesome hockey fans (and friends, and family) worldwide, Slapshot Productions have also managed to crowd-fund the Skate of Origin livestreaming, after the immensely successful NZIHL Grand Final livestream pledge drive. What that means is that the Skills Competition  (10am local on Saturday, so that’s 6pm EDT Friday for those of you elsewhere) and the North Island vs South Island Skate of Origin game at 5pm (that’s 1am Saturday morning EDT) will also be streamed!

I would add the caveat that Slapshot aren’t making any promises about the quality of footage from the Skills Competition, since that’s going to be something of a trial run, but it’s still pretty darn awesome to have the option.

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Can We Fund It? Yes We Can!

Awesome news as of about midday today: the crowd-funding effort to get the NZIHL Grand Final livestreamed on the internet has reached the $2000 goal, and will be proceeding full steam ahead!

Thanks a million to everyone who donated, who signal-boosted, and who talked it up to friends, family and coworkers — I’m so stoked by how strongly the hockey community came out to support this initiative; it really does say great things for the future of the sport down in New Zealand  — and Australia; thanks especially to all the AIHL affiliated officials, bloggers and fans who also came on board to support from across the ditch. (And congratulations to the Melbourne Ice on their historic third consecutive Goodall Cup win this past Sunday, before I forget.)

I’m sure every official and unofficial hockey twitter-er, blogger and their pets-of-choice down here will be linking to this more on the day, but to give anyone seeing this a heads-up, as of this point the livestream link is going to be available here, from 6.45pm local time on Saturday 8th September, with puck drop scheduled for 7pm.

Considering the volume of donations received from overseas — and especially considering that every indication has the NHL going into a lockout in a week or so, which means hockey fans will be even hungrier for hockey to watch — I figured it’d probably be a welcome gesture in return to give folk overseas information well in advance of what times they could expect to tune in to the livestream, if they’d prefer to do that rather than save it to watch after the fact at a more “socially acceptable hour to be awake”.

Well, okay, the UK has a pretty sweet deal. North America; hope you like early mornings! Any common time zones as I could think were likely to be relevant are gathered below the cut.

I am lucky enough to be travelling down to Queenstown this weekend to watch the Stampede take on the Red Devils in person (thanks Air NZ, for making that airfare significantly less painful than expected!), so doubtless I’ll find plenty to write about down there. Looking forward to it massively, anyhow. Should be a great game, right?

Also, since this wasn’t available at the time of my last recap post — if you’re starving for hockey before then, well — make sure you didn’t miss the raw footage shot of the entirety of last Monday night’s Swarm vs Admirals game. It’s all available here on youtube! (Videos are linked and will autoplay through; I recommend rolling with the HDMI cable hooked up to the TV approach. Sweet as, yo.)

I hope everyone who can’t make it down to the Ice Arena this Saturday enjoys the livestream! …and that you also enjoy the fact that the crowdfunding hit 100% mere moments before I could attempt to deploy my brilliant idea of offering to boost the crowdfunding again if I could blackmail the Stampede’s PA person into playing Aqua for my own personal entertainment. (Oh, come on. Who hasn’t wanted to see a face-off set to Barbie Girl?) 

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