Does it get any better that?
In just her second season with the defending New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League (NZWIHL) champion side, Wakatipu Wild, 15-year-old Polly Bennetts scored her first NZWIHL goal during her team’s season-opener, at her home rink, in front of her whole family.
Speaking to Mountain Scene from Fiji, Polly says the resulting noise from her whānau nearly took the roof off the Queenstown Ice Arena.
‘‘I could literally hear them from the bench and they were on the other side of the [rink].’’
But netting her first goal was an epic experience, she says.
‘‘It was all about the position, really — I was just in the right place at the right time to get it in.’’
Coincidentally, another teen, Aoife Orr, also scored her first goal for the Wild over the weekend — both she and Polly represented New Zealand at the under-18 group B, division 3 world champs in Bulgaria earlier this year.
Polly’s goal helped the Wild to a 10-6 win on Friday night against Auckland Steel, with a hat-trick coming from Kellye Nelson, while another hat-trick on Saturday, from Livia Twohig, helped seal an 8-3 win on Saturday.
Polly says last year the Auckland side was ‘‘very aggressive’’, so she went into last weekend expecting a bit of a rumble, but was pleasantly surprised at the ‘‘chilled’’ nature of the games in front of the biggest crowds she’s ever played before.
Coach Colin McIntosh, who missed Saturday’s game due to a conflict with the SkyCity Stampede in Christchurch, says he couldn’t have asked for anything more from the women, who came away with two big wins and the top two league scorers.
‘‘[It] was a slow start Friday, but the ladies got better every period over the weekend.
‘‘With illness and players being out of town we were quite short, so it was awesome to see all the ladies step up.’’
He also pays tribute to Inge Kemp and Bobbie Weeks, who both had a ‘‘great weekend’’.
Wild’s next games are against Canterbury in Christchurch, this weekend, and Polly says her team has whet their whistle and is raring to go, while, for her, she’s just buzzing to play with and against the women’s she’s looked up to for so long.
‘‘The fact that I’m versing them now and playing with them … it’s amazing.’’
Making it to game ‘was a win’ – Stampede coach
Despite a less-than-ideal build-up, SkyCity Stampede coach Cam Frear has nothing but praise for his charges following a ‘‘mixed bag’’ in Christchurch last weekend.
The ice hockey team was due to fly out from Queenstown Airport at 10am last Saturday morning for their double-header against the Canterbury Red Devils, but fog meant their flight was cancelled.
Instead, the side had about 30 minutes to organise rental vans and hit the road.
‘‘We honestly didn’t even have enough time to stop,’’ Frear says.
‘‘We stopped for one food break and then it was literally on the road.’’
Puck-drop was pushed back by an hour, to 5.30pm, to allow the Stampede to get to the rink, get changed and hit the ice — some of the players having driven for six hours to get there, which ‘‘isn’t the best preparation’’.
‘‘It wasn’t the most fun day we’ve ever had, but it’s one of those things … you just have to get through it.’’
Canterbury took the win on Saturday, 6-2 — Frear noting just making it to the game was a win.
His side recovered on Sunday to win 5-4.
‘‘We were quite short with numbers with a few of the boys overseas at the moment, and injuries, so just for the guys to rally around and be able to play pretty good hockey for two games, I was happy with the whole weekend,’’ he says.
The Stampede now have a couple of weeks off before heading to Auckland to take on the Botany Swarm on July 15 and 16, by which time most of the players will be back and raring to go.