Axel’s huge ice hockey opportunity

Star on skates: Axel Ruski-Jones suits up for the SkyCity Stampede. PICTURE: JAMES ALLEN PHOTOGRAPHY

Queenstown ice hockey whizz-kid Axel Ruski-Jones is prepping to jet off to Canada at the end of August to begin his second year at the Ontario Hockey Academy (OHA).

The 17-year-old last year boarded at the private school, which aims to develop students for collegiate hockey at North American universities, after successfully applying for a scholarship.

The experience of living and breathing ice hockey for the semester is ‘‘a lot of fun’’, Axel says.

‘‘You’re in a dorm with five other guys, you go to school there, eat there, go to the gym there, and then the ice hockey rink’s just down the road.

‘‘We train every weekday and then normally have one to two games a week.’’

Hitting the puck since age five, Axel graduated from Queenstown’s under-15 Stampede team, through to the U18s, and now also suits up as a forward for SkyCity Stampede while he’s home.

‘‘[It’s helping] keep the skill level high,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s cool to be able to play with those guys that I grew up watching.’’

While he’ll miss the end of the New Zealand national league season, he says it’s worth it for the potential opportunities.

‘‘I just want to see where [hockey] takes me.’’

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