Home game long time in making

Constable Wilson
Regan Wilson
Regan Wilson is looking forward to being back on home ice.

Although, like everything at the moment, it will have a slightly different feel to it.

He and the Dunedin Thunder will host the Stampede in an empty Dunedin Ice Stadium tonight and tomorrow, part of a series between the three South Island ice hockey teams.

It has been a long time coming for the side, as its season was initially suspended and then its revised first home game was delayed.

The side played its season opener last weekend, splitting its games with the Canterbury Red Devils in Christchurch.

It had been great to be on the ice, although Wilson admitted it was alittle different.

‘‘It was a bit strange,’’ the 27-year-old defenceman said.

‘‘Kind of being able to hear everything was the biggest thing you noticed. You could hear each other calling for the puck and everything.

‘‘When there’s fans it gets drowned out a bit, but it’s just good to be out there playing.’’

A foundation member of the team, Wilson first joined the Thunder squad as a 15-year-old King’s High School pupil.

Now a dog handler with the police, he has remained a main› stay of the side ever since and brings experience alongside a handful of others to a young team this year.

That youth came as a result of the revamped league, and bor› der restrictions meant imports could not join teams.

Despite that, Wilson felt it was a good opportunity for develop› ment, although noted the young› sters were ahead of where their counterparts were a decade ago.

‘‘I think there’s some good role models in the team, guys that have played a lot and played overseas like Joe Orr and Paris [Heyd].

‘‘I think the younger guys definitely look for them and look to them.

‘‘I guess New Zealand in hoc› key in general over the last 10 years has developed so much.

‘‘These young guys coming through are great players and have a great hockey sense already.’’

He said the Thunder had improved in its second game last week and hoped to keep building on that.

Standing in its way would be a tough Stampede side, which had claimed two big wins over the Red Devils a week earlier.

Wilson said the Queenstown side would present a tough chal› lenge. It had plenty of quality and experience, although the Thun› der brings speed and tenacity.

‘‘We always know they’re a force to be reckoned with,’’ Wilson said.

‘‘Obviously, they have got a strong team like they always do.

‘‘We’ll just be looking to play our game and work to our strengths.

‘‘Hopefully, we can take it to them.’’

Both games will be live streamed.

Tonight’s puck drop is 7pm, while tomorrow’s game starts at 6.30pm.

 

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