While SkyCity Stampede had a close-fought loss to the Canterbury Red Devils last Saturday night, going down 4-3, there was
still a reason to celebrate for team stalwart Thomas Carson-Pratt.

The game marked the centre’s 100th game in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League (NZIHL) — not a bad effort considering he’s
only 25.

Carson-Pratt started out playing ice hockey in Queenstown at the age of eight and quickly became hooked.

While boarding at Otago Boys’, he made his NZIHL debut for the Phoenix Thunder when he was just 15 and played a couple of seasons for them, and in 2013 was one of the youngest players in the Southern team competing in the national under-20 league.

He then came back to Queenstown — ‘‘dad pulled me out of boarding school ’cos I was away playing ice hockey too much’’.

‘‘He said, ‘I’m not going to pay for you not to be at school’, so that was that,’’ he laughs.

The 2015 NZIHL champ pulled on the green and black jersey for another season in 2016, before slipping back into the SkyCity Stampede’s colours.

He hasn’t had the national Ice Blacks call-up, but says that’s not something he’s really chasing.

‘‘I’ve just been enjoying playing hockey for Queenstown and just working and doing other things outside of hockey.’’

Carson-Pratt says last weekend’s mixed bag — which started with a 5-3 win last Friday night in a fast and physical encounter — was ‘‘a bit of a shame’’.

Biffo: Stampede’s Jack Robbie gets better acquainted with Canterbury Red Devils’ Joe Orr last Friday. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY

‘‘We’ve had a bit of a short bench the last six games of the season, and I think all the bodies were a bit sore [on Saturday].

‘‘We got the lead early on and then it just slowly slipped away and we just couldn’t quite get back in there.’’

Considering, though, it’s a ‘‘fresh group of guys’’ this year, and a few names have disappeared from the playing roster through
injuries, overseas travel or relocation, still being on the top of the table and five points clear of the second-placed Red Devils
isn’t something to be sneezed at.

‘‘We’ve just [got] to adjust and make do with what we’ve got for the last part of the season,’’ he says.

And of his century, the builder says it’s ‘‘pretty cool’’ to join the ranks of his current and former teammates, including Braden Lee and the Frear brothers.

Stampede’s next hit-out will be against Phoenix Thunder in Dunedin next Friday and Saturday.

Meantime, the Wakatipu Wild women’s ice hockey team will take on Auckland Steel, in Auckland, next Saturday and Sunday.

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