These talented local youngsters are about to get a taste of representative ice hockey on an international stage.
Twenty-one kids in the Southern Knights mixed-grade team, aged 10-13, flew out of Queenstown last week to attend the Peewee International Friendship Tournament held in Canada.
Eleven of the players are from the Wakatipu, playing for the Queenstown Rangers, while the rest of the squad plays for teams in Alexandra, Gore, Dunedin and Tekapo.
Only one other New Zealand team – from Canterbury – is attending the tournament.
Queenstown Ice Hockey Club head coach and Southern Knights coach Mike Sommer says the players will face teams from Canada, the United States, Japan, Korea and Japan.
The non-contact tournament has been running for decades and many current Southern Stampede players who attended years ago recall it being a defining moment in their ice hockey careers, Sommer says.
The kids are away for 17 days and will play 10 games in the round-robin competition. They’ll also attend an ice hockey training camp and watch a National Hockey League game.