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He is the face of the Dunedin Thunder, and a widely respected figure on the New Zealand ice hockey scene. Paris Heyd’s work ethic and talent have shone over 15 seasons in the national league, and he recently appeared in his 200th game in the league. Hayden Meikle talks to the 30-year-old ice king.
Honestly, it is just another game. You know it’s coming up but you don’t think about it that much.
Do you remember anything about your first game?
Not a lot. I likely only had a couple of shifts. Cam Frear and I were 15-16, playing for the Stampede that year. We used to fight over who served any team penalties because that meant we would get on the ice, if only to go to the penalty box.
What about your 100th?
No idea. Couldn’t even tell you what year it was.
What has playing for the Thunder, in particular, meant to you?
I came to the Thunder when it was still trying to find its feet. Until the Mako this year, the Thunder were the ‘‘new kids’’ in the league, so to speak, since they joined three years after its conception. I think it took a while for the team to gain the respect of the other teams in the league who were more established, especially as it struggled the first few years. As with any sport, having a national league team creates exposure which in turn increases youth participation by drawing kids in to a sport. For a team to be successful, it requires time to build that foundation and develop the local players that will eventually form the core of the team. Seeing this progression of local players to the Thunder, and the excitement the team creates in the next generation of players has been special.
Three favourite/memorable team-mates and why?
Tough question. I couldn’t tell you the number of team-mates I have had over the years. Benji Gavoille jumps to mind. He was a special player and always had a way of lifting the mood in the locker room or holding people. Mat Enright brings a similar charisma to the team and we have played together on and off for years. Going a way back, Loren Nowland was a great leader in Canterbury when we won there. He wasn’t the most flashy player on the team but he competed like no-one else and I am glad I never had to play against him.
Who is the funniest member of the Thunder?
There are a few characters but Enzo (Mat Enright) would be a clear front-runner. There is a never a dull moment when he is around, and if things aren’t going too well, he will find a funny side to it and raise the spirits of the team.
Best game you’ve played?
That’s a hard one to isolate. I am not one for details. A couple stand out — the Mako shootout win over the Stampede recently to break a 30-plus-game winning streak and get the Mako’s first win; beating Australia for the first time in the 2009 Winter Games; and the series win over Australia in 2019.
Best goal you’ve scored?
The last one.
The Thunder hasn’t yet been able to win the national league title. What chance that will happen some day?
Guaranteed. I won’t say when, though, or it will ruin the surprise. You will just have to keep watching to find out.