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Hoping for the best: Some of Queenstown's Wakatipu Wild women's ice hockey team

By GUY WILLIAMS

Queenstown’s women’s ice hockey team is braced for battle in its season-opening weekend
in Dunedin.

Wakatipu Wild captain Kellye Nelson says the side’s out to improve on its third placing in last year’s debut season.

The 17-strong squad, which ranges in age from 14 to 50, started team practices in June, but because it has players from Tekapo, Twizel and Dunedin, they won’t be having their first full get-together until today, Nelson says.

‘‘We’ve yet to have a full team practice with all of us on the ice.’’

But the players have had plenty of time on the ice in various social teams, and she’s confident they’ll quickly gel.

‘‘The girls have improved, they’re getting on the ice more and more, and our new players are up-and-comers.’’

SkyCity Stampede player Colin McIntosh is head coach, with Dave Dubnick assisting.

The team was formed a year ago, splitting off from the Dunedin-based former Southern Storm to expand the New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League to four teams.

This weekend’s first round has games against Dunedin Thunder and the Canterbury Devilettes today, and Auckland Steel tomorrow.

The second round, on September 4-5, will also be played in Dunedin, while the semis, final,
and a playoff for third and fourth will be held in Queenstown on September 25-26.

Nelson says her players are extremely grateful to the Wild’s six sponsors for supporting them in what would otherwise be a prohibitively-expensive season.

‘‘Supporting women’s sport in a Covid year is amazing.’’

They pay the same fees as the men despite playing far fewer games, including sharing the
travel costs of all teams, something that adds up when the Auckland and Christchurch teams are going to Dunedin twice and Queenstown once.

To boost their coffers, they’re planning a quirky ‘‘tattoo flash’’ and sausage sizzle fundraiser at Otautahi Tattoo on August 29, with punters able to pay between $50 and $100 for one of a selected range of tats.

Meantime, Stampede swept the ice with Dunedin’s Phoenix Thunder last weekend for the
second time in three weeks, with scores of 6-2 and 9-2 at the Dunedin Ice Stadium last Friday and Saturday, respectively, continuing their unbeaten season.

They have this weekend off before taking on Auckland Mako in the resort next Friday and
Saturday.

guy.williams@scene.co.nz