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“We’ve never won before;” Wellington’s only ice hockey team scores first wins

News from Otago Community Trust NZ Masters Games
Wellington’s only ice hockey team, the Wellington Seals, may not have been in the medals at the New Zealand Masters Games in Dunedin, but claiming two wins and a tie from their five games was enough to soar their spirits.

The Team’s manager, Gina Di Rienzo says they were blown away by their wins.

“We came with no expectations, we just came to play, to compete and to get more competitive experience. To have two wins has been amazing as we have never won a competitive game before. It’s been fantastic to play on a full ice surface.”

The Wellington Seals are the poor cousins on the New Zealand ice hockey front, as the capital does not have a National League sized ice rink, let alone an Olympic size rink that Dunedin city boasts.

Their current home is Frosty Spot, an indoor ice skating rink in Lower Hutt a quarter of the size of a standard ice hockey rink. It’s in a giant metal shed which is not insulated so it’s hard to keep frozen.

Gina says the players have to be very hands on when it comes to grooming the rink.

“We have to groom the ice ourselves by dry scraping and dumping the resulting snow into wheel barrows. Then we use a hose to put a thin layer of water on the rink and that must freeze before we can continue. The upside is that the snow then helps to cool down our post-game beers.”

In two years the club has grown from nine players to over a hundred players coming through their makeshift rink.

At the Games, the make-up of the Wellington Seals has an international flavour with three players from Canada, two from USA, one from Wales and one from Germany mixing it up with their kiwi players.

Gina says the New Zealand Masters Games is providing the team with great connections.

“There are 16 teams in the competition including one from Canada. The Goldpuckers are from the Yukon and have invited us to come over to play. We are also seriously thinking about coming back to Dunedin to train. Our next tournament will be in Tekapo in June.”

They hope their performance at the New Zealand Masters Games may add weight to a growing movement in Wellington that is calling for the city to build a full-sized ice rink.

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