Storm will need plenty of puff

Southern Storm defenders Julia Boothroyd (left) and Aleisha Rainey get in some practice at the...
Southern Storm defenders Julia Boothroyd (left) and Aleisha Rainey get in some practice at the McMillan Hockey Centre yesterday. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
Southern Storm defenders Julia Boothroyd and Aleisha Rainey will be hoping this season will include a win.

The Storm opens its National Hockey League (NHL) campaign against Canterbury in Christchurch tomorrow.

It shapes as a tough encounter for the visitors. Actually, most of the games this year will fall into that category.

Last season, the team lost all six games, including a heavy 7-1 defeat by Canterbury. The previous season, Southern did not enter a team in either the men’s or women’s competition.

The Storm went winless in 2015 and has not won a game in the league since the 2-1 win against Capital in 2014.

But given the obstacles in front of the team, its struggles are not surprising.

The side is often scattered throughout the country and comes together on game day and for tournament week. Finding pre-season games has also been demanding, given the travel and cost hurdles. And the hockey population is not massive, either.

The 2018 class faces many of the same problems. With the squad once again scattered, there have only been about nine players at practice and no goalie. There has also been no real pre-season to speak of either.

But despite the challenges, both defenders are upbeat and looking forward to the campaign.

The inclusion of Black Sticks midfielder Tessa Jopp was a huge fillip, Boothroyd said.

"I think we will have quite a strong midfield having Tessa there," she said.

"She is a good leader and someone to look to. Her skills are really nice and she is so positive out on the pitch, so it is really good to be around her.

"Hopefully, we will have a solid defence with Ginny Wilson back in goal, which is really key."

Boothroyd is in her second year with the side. The 27-year-old works at the Otago Hockey Association as a development officer.

She grew up in South Canterbury but moved to Dunedin four years ago to study.

Rainey is in her first year with the Storm. The 20-year-old hails from Whanganui and is looking forward to her NHL debut — "I’m excited about it but nervous at the same time.

"I know it is going to be hard but it is also hard to know what to expect until you really get out there," she said.

Her younger sister Emma has played for Central at NHL level, so she is pretty well informed.

Rainey said the Storm had set the goal of being more competitive and was focused on making improvements.

"It is kind of nice going in as the underdogs because there is no expectation. If we can pull off a few wins that would be pretty cool."

Canterbury has some challenges as well. Only six players remain from the team which claimed the title in 2016. However, this year’s team can still lean on the experience of Jenny Storey, Jordy Grant and Sian Fremaux, while Cass Reid returns after a year away.

The squad includes four players making their debut at this level.

 

Southern v Canterbury
Christchurch, tomorrow, 2pm

Southern: Julia Boothroyd, Tegan Buchanan, Teneisha Carey, Bex Clementson, Ruby Coombes, Siennah Cowles, Tessa Jopp, Harriet McFetridge, Emily McNaughton, Sandy Mitchell, Abbey Mitton, Claudia Peyroux, Aleisha Rainey, Lydia Shirley, Helaina Snell, Nicole Strawbridge, Kezia Taylor, Ginny Wilson.

Canterbury: Not available

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