Dunedin ice hockey player Rick Parry is having an
eye-opening experience in the professional ranks in France.
He emailed the Otago Daily Times these thoughts.
My experience in France started two months ago. I was
immersed in the team atmosphere and the idea of being a
professional ice hockey player.
I landed on a Monday, and although the coach had let me have
the night off to get over the jet-lag, I decided to skate to
move my legs and understand the way of the game here.
Our coach is from Quebec and speaks both French and English
He is a seasoned pro, playing more than eight years in the
highest league in France and in Canada and Germany.
We practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday nights on the ice.
We also have a skate on Friday mornings for all the imports
and French players who do not work or study. My backup goalie
and I have a specific goalie practice every Thursday before
our team practice, and we work out at the gym two or three
days a week as well.
The imports include two Slovakians, a Czech, a Slovenian, a
Russian, an American and a Kiwi. The rule on imports here in
division two is you are allowed up to three players from
outside Europe, and you can have as many European players as
you like as long as the team retains 10 French-born players.
We had four pre-season games, with two wins and two losses.
Since the regular season started we have played six games,
three at home and three away, winning all six to rank No 1 in
We will play 10 more games before the playoffs start.
I have played every game and have adapted my game a lot to
compete with the skill and speed of players here.
I feel New Zealand league teams could compete with some of
the clubs here in terms of skill level. However, the
individual skills of players from all over Europe make for an
interesting mix of talent that is very competitive.
One of my highlights so far was a road game when we were down
6-2 with the final period remaining. We were able to claw
back, taking the game to a draw with 30sec to go. We then won
the game in overtime.
Another was playing against former Dunedin Thunder import
Quentin Pepy two weeks ago.
This game was to decide first place in our division as we
both had not lost a game to this point.
It was a very close game and I made 39 saves, letting in only
one goal, to win the game 3-1.
Away from the rink, I have had the chance to experience
Paris, exploring the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of
So far, this has been an amazing experience. I am fortunate
to be part of a great team. My French is slowly improving and
I am enjoying my time here.