Reprieve may be possible for New Zealand league

The New Zealand ice hockey league may go ahead after all.

The five-team league was canned for this season in late March because of Covid-19 and any chance of getting some hockey on ice looked a slim chance at best.

But the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) released a statement yesterday saying it was eyeing up a return to the ice.

The NZIHL is now in talks to potentially activate a 2020 season. As soon as a decision was made with all five teams, the next steps may be taken.

But there may be hurdles to get over.

Dunedin Thunder general manager Sharon Darling said players and management were excited by the possibility of an official 2020 season.

‘‘All five teams will need to work through challenges caused by Covid-19, such as not being able to attain import players and potential financial burdens which may be affecting our stakeholders,’’ she said.

‘‘We know that our fans are eager to see some hockey, and we are working closely with NZIHL to deliver a plan that is sustainable for the league.”

A South Island round may be a possibility.

Queenstown’s Stampede won the title last year and captain Matt Schneider said a few ideas had been talked about among the players.

The Queenstown rink was set to open this weekend and players had stayed in shape. Activities were going to be limited to just playing in a local league. Plans may be hatched to play in the national league but it was early days and everything was up in the air, he said.

Two teams from Auckland and a Christchurch team complete the league.

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