Skates on as pair head into unknown

John McGlashan College pupils Billy Sheard (16), left, and Padraig MacKenzie (18) will represent New Zealand at the under-20 ice hockey world championship in Reykjavik in January next year. Photo: Linda Robertson
John McGlashan College pupils Billy Sheard (16), left, and Padraig MacKenzie (18) will represent New Zealand at the under-20 ice hockey world championship in Reykjavik in January next year. Photo: Linda Robertson
Iceland just sounds like the logical place to wind up if you are an ice hockey player.

But for Padraig MacKenzie and Billy Sheard it shapes as the opportunity of a lifetime.

The John McGlashan College pupils have been selected in the New Zealand team which will contest the under-20 world championship in Reykjavik in January next year.

They will need all the luck they can get just pronouncing the place names. Some good fortune on the ice would not go astray either.

The team is contesting the division 3 title and faces stiff competition from the likes of China, Australia and the home team.

MacKenzie (18) has been playing ice hockey for six years and got his start after he was introduced to the sport by a family friend.

''It just clicked. I enjoyed it from the get-go,'' he said.

The year-13 pupil plays up front on the right wing and has been part of the Dunedin Thunder development squad.

He has previously represented New Zealand in the sport at under-18 level.

''China will be a tough team. They shape as the main competition. Crushing Aussie is on the to-do list, and Bulgaria has always been our rival.

''It would be good to smash them.''

Sheard (16) also plays up front and cannot wait to board the plane.

''It is real cool.

''It is not a place you would normally be going to, so I'm excited for the opportunity to go to an unique place.

''I've never been anywhere like it.''

The year 12 pupil said it was hard to say how the team would go as there was not a lot of scouting done on the other teams.

''It is not really broadcast a lot at this level.

''But I think we have a strong group of players and we'll be hoping for good results.''

The teenagers are part of a massive Otago contingent - 13 of the 20 squad members are from the region including Max Hurring who is now playing his ice hockey in Canada.

The New Zealand women's under-18 team, which will contest the 2019 IIHF Women' Challenge Cup of Asia in Abu Dhabir, also has a strong local contingent and includes seven southern players.

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