All going swimmingly for Seals after hurdles overcome

The Wellington Seals ice hockey team is all ready to compete in next year’s New Zealand Master...
The Wellington Seals ice hockey team is all ready to compete in next year’s New Zealand Master Games.PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The Seals are heading south armed with a stick or three.

The Wellington Seals ice hockey team is lining up to compete in the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin next year.

Dunedin will host the 31st Masters Games, involving 60 sports and more than 5000 competitors ranging in age from 18 to 95.

The Seals have overcome plenty of hurdles to put together a team but things have advanced in the past 18 months.

After a match between the Canadian and United States All Stars at Westpac Stadium in Wellington last year was abandoned because of wind difficulties, the rink was donated to the Wellington Ice Hockey Association.

The association put the rink in a building in Seaview and now ice hockey players have a decent rick to skate on and can play game scenarios.

It is not quite full size and does tend to melt when the temperature outside gets too high.

But it is a vast improvement on what the skaters previously had which was a piece of ice smaller than a tennis court, which tended to melt and cut up often.

Wellington Seals team organiser Paul Edlin said the side was looking forward to heading south.

"I believe we came seventh out of 12th the first time. Then at the Kiwi Masters games we came sixth. It's a slightly different tournament but still a good result," Edlin said.

"Hopefully, we can go one better or a couple better or challenge for a medal if we're lucky. Winning even just a couple of games is a bonus. We have certainly improved since our first tournament in Auckland where we lost every single game.

"Going from a square sheet of ice to something a bit more legitimate has been great. You can really see the players starting to develop, including youth hockey."

The association has raised nearly $20,000 for gear in the past year.

By already sending in their entry, the Seals have saved money by paying the early-bird entry fee of $65, which is in place until December 2. Organisers are urging those keen to save some money to get in before the cut-off date.

After this the fee reverts to the standard entry fee of $95. Individual sport fees are on top of that.

Entries for the Games next year, which start on February 1, are well ahead of when the event was held in the city in 2018.

Nearly 60% more entries have been received than at the same time two years ago.

Numbers have picked up due to more younger people registering and much interest from across New Zealand, and Australia.

The Elton John and Queen concerts are also attracting people to combine events.

- By Holly Percival


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