Ice Blacks to break 10-year Dunedin drought

Paris Heyd
Paris Heyd
The Ice Blacks are set to return to Dunedin for the first time in a decade.

New Zealand’s men’s ice hockey team will play a three-way match against the New Zealand under-18 and under-20 sides at Dunedin Ice Stadium next Saturday.

It will be the first time the Ice Blacks have played in Dunedin since 2011.

At this stage, it will also be their only game this year.

The Covid-19 pandemic is still hampering any prospects of a world championships.

There had been talk of an Australian series if a travel-bubble happens, although nothing has been confirmed yet.

Ice Black Paris Heyd, who is also the Dunedin Ice Stadium manager, said it was an exciting opportunity for the sport in Dunedin.

"A big part of it is just for the kids to see the development pathway as well, be part of the mix and see the next step in their development," he said.

"It should be an exciting game.

"From a hockey point of view it’ll be the biggest game we’ve had in Dunedin in 10 years. We’ve had a couple of under-20 world champs in that time too.

"From a city point of view it’ll be fantastic."

Heyd plays for the Dunedin Thunder and after a long career in the Ice Blacks, was excited for the rare chance to play at home.

He would be joined by about a dozen other Thunder and Stampede players spread across the three teams.

Heyd said the level would be higher than a regular national league, even without the imports.

Bringing the country’s best players together meant the quality would be high, while the dynamic of having the young players trying to topple the senior team would add competition.

Heyd added he hoped it would be the start of getting more top-level ice hockey to Dunedin.

That could come in making bids for the division two world championships at both senior and under-20 level.

"It was sort of at the start of last year we had those discussions about putting in a bid to host.

"Whenever the world opens back up it’s something we want to look at, getting the senior level in Dunedin, both men and women, at some stage.

"But for the meantime this is the best we’re going to get."

The game will be played across four periods, each of which will feature two of the teams.

The puck drops at 4.30pm.

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