By TRACEY ROXBURGH
It’s a fair bet in years to come the name ‘Glass’ might once again adorn the back of an ice hockey jersey in New Zealand.
On Tuesday, little Coco Glass – aged 6 – had her first ice hockey lesson at the Queenstown Ice Arena, becoming what’s believed to be NZ’s first fourth-generation ice hockey player.
Coco is following in the tracks of her great-grandad Ben, one of the founders of ice hockey in NZ, who passed away in February, aged 93, her grandad Graeme, who was a member of the first Ice Blacks team, in 1987, and her dad Simon – NZ’s first second-generation Ice Black, who went on to captain the side.
Graeme says his family lived in a house in South Canterbury right beside a pond which froze over in winter, and became the site of the country’s first ice hockey games in 1937.
At that stage there were just a couple of local teams involved from around South Canterbury.
While his dad was about 20 before he laced up skates, Graeme started skating when he was about four, but didn’t play a proper game till he was about 10.
“There was no hockey around like there is now back then so we just used to hit blocks of wood around on the rink.”
The New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation started up in ’87 – a far different-looking national league started up involving club champs and then nationals, which involved a team each from Auckland, Canterbury and Southern.
The Glass family moved to Queenstown in 1993 – at that stage the old outdoor rink, featuring artificial ice, was still in play in the Queenstown Gardens and that’s where Simon got his start, aged about 10.
“He had played around a little bit when we were on the farm, but never actually played any games of ice hockey till we came down here.”
While Simon officially retired in 2013 – in a rare honour his Stampede Number 10 jersey was retired and still hangs from the rafters of the rink – he’s now back on the ice, helping coach the next generation … including his eldest daughter.
Graeme: “It’s pretty cool.
“We weren’t going to push her into playing hockey it was something she had to decide and she wasn’t really showing that much interest.
“But they [Simon and wife, Sarena, a former NZ Alpine Ski Team member] took her down skating last weekend and then she must have all-of-a-sudden decided during the week that she was going to play ice hockey.
“She’s been along to a lot of ice hockey games; she just loves it, she loves watching the ice hockey, so, I guess it was almost inevitable that she was going to get dragged into it eventually.
“It’s going to be fun.”
As for the little lady, when asked what her favourite part about her first training session was, she replied without hesitation: “Taking my helmet off.”