2022 Mid Year Update
Holy Mackinaw! What an absolutely incredible start to 2022 for Wellington ice hockey! While I am a firm believer that good comms are short and to the point, there is so much amazing activity happening, so this update might require a cup of tea.
Learn to Play + Super League
From the beginning of WIHA, we have done our best to support young players to enter the sport. We’re really excited about our latest initiative for youth, the new U12 Learn to Play (LTP) program! The LTP program is part of a national strategy to grow the sport, and we’re very lucky to have had the support of the NZIHF to set up our local program. New players are always welcome, details for registration are available on our website
Since we launched at the start of May 2022, we have had more than 50 kids aged 4 - 13 participate in a free trial, many of whom now attend our Thursday sessions on a weekly basis. As our U12 numbers continue to grow, we’re already looking ahead to our next initiative, a U12 Super Hero League. Details are still being worked out and further information regarding this will be released in the coming months.
Another exciting opportunity for U12 players is the 2022 NZIHF Under 12 tournament taking place on the weekend of Friday 14th – Sunday 16th October at Alpine Ice Arena, in Christchurch. Make sure to let a coach know if you’re keen to participate!
Youth U18 & U15
In addition to our U12 LTP program, we also continue to see growth and opportunities for our U18 & U15 players. There is a U18 team playing in Grade 2 of our adult league, and a U15 team playing in Grade 3. Training sessions for this age group continue to run on Sunday @5pm during the school term.
With all that is happening with ice hockey in Wellington, we’ve had feedback that it has been hard to keep track of information specific to this age group. We are continuing to try to improve our communication pipelines, but in the meantime a specific Facebook page has been set up for information specific to this group.
We’re also really excited to see some of our youth begin to be selected to play for rep teams in Canterbury and Auckland, and look forward to having Wellington rep teams in the near future for these players.
Term 3 begins on 31st July and registrations are now open. If you have any questions, please get in touch via the WIHA website.
Registration for the next season of hockey beginning in August is now open! Register now to secure your spot!
This year we launched a third grade of adult hockey! We’ve had really positive feedback from players in all three grades although we acknowledge there have been a few growing pains that have been exacerbated by the continued unfolding of the pandemic. It is really exciting to see adult hockey stabilizing in a shape which offers opportunities for players at all levels of the game to play fun, supportive and challenging games of hockey.
In step with the growth we have seen across the club, women’s hockey also continues to flourish. Training happens every Saturday morning at 8:30am, and planning is now underway for a Women’s league. More information is coming soon!
To support the continued growth of our great game, we need to grow and train a pool of referees. A training night was conducted during season one, and a full day training session is currently being booked in for the start of season two. We’d love to have you come along: whether you’ve been playing for a long time, or are just picking up the game, whether you’ve done any referring before or are an absolute newbie. Keep an eye out for more information about this which will be coming out soon!
Our all comers “open scrimmage” continues to run most Wednesdays @7pm. In order to ensure these events are worth coming out for, interest is gauged weekly via theWIHA facebook page. If you’re keen to come out, make sure to drop a comment on the weekly post and check the page before heading out to avoid disappointment.
One of the biggest barriers to playing hockey can be access to gear. For that reason, WIHA has always worked to make gear available to new players. With the growth of the association, we had well and truly outgrown our old gear locker. We are very lucky to now have a new and significantly improved locker! We have quickly filled the new locker, and have therefore begun the move to hiring out gear on a term by term basis. While this is a slow process, we’ll be encouraging everybody who borrows gear regularly to hire out gear over the coming months. This will benefit the players by allowing them to have good fitting, dry gear every time they play and allow us to keep better tabs on what gear is used and in demand.
In addition to the growth of our local game, we’re also seeing more and more players have the opportunity to play hockey in tournaments around the country. The first tournament of the year was the Queenstown Cup, which saw the underdog Wellington Seals win our pool, only to have victory snatched away in the third period of a very exciting tournament final. More recently, Wellington was very well represented at the Hot Ice Tournament in Tekapo, a fantastic family friendly event which draws more and more of us south from the capital each and every year!
Looking ahead, this July the Wellington Seals have secured the opportunity to be the first ever north island team to compete for the Erewhon Cup, the oldest sports trophy in New Zealand! Then, later in the year, the Seals will head south again to play in the NZ Masters tournament for the 4th year in a row!
As part of our journey towards continuous improvement, this year we launchedstats.wiha.nz. The platform can provide everything from membership management and scheduling to emailing, announcements, and much more. This will overtime become your hub for all your hockey information. We are also in the process of completely revamping our main site,wiha.nz, which will become more of a marketing site for new players and other people wanting to find out more information about hockey in Wellington.
For such a young club to have come as far as we have in such a short period of time has only been possible due to the work of many, many hands. I spoke recently to a club president from another region who said, “It’s amazing seeing how much is happening, there must be a lot of people helping out”. An exhaustive list of all the people helping Wellington ice hockey grow would be far too long, but there are number of folks who have been going above and beyond this year that I'd like to give special thanks to:
Richard and Bryn - for everything, but especially for their incredible work building our new gear locker. As if Richard doesn’t spend enough time at Daytona while working there, he managed to sneak in at all hours of the day and night, volunteering his time to build our beautiful new gear locker.
Evan Andrews - with his infectious enthusiasm, who has never met a job he wasn’t keen to help with. He also worked tirelessly helping to build the gear locker, and then stuck with it to get it painted and primed, protecting our new investment for the long term
Carl McIntyre, AJ Spiller, & Michael Domigan - for their help and support with launching the LTP program and flying down to Wellington week after week to help get it going
Caleb Hance & Doug Vrame - these two Coloradoans have been phenomenal in standing up the LTP program
Michael Chorbak - while I hear he moonlights for Weta, we all know his passion in life is designing the awesome WIHA jerseys and working as a lead coach for women as well as helping out with youth coaching
Matt Kent - Zamboni driver, Mr. Hockey extraordinaire, who has spent hours beyond count doing everything he can to grow ice hockey in Wellington
Kenny Gustafson [goo-stahf-son] - for stepping up as team manager for the Queenstown cup, leading our referee training and setting up live streams
Nick Robertson - picking up the mantle of "WIHA Webmaster" and starting creating a clear and consistent social media identity for WIHA
Lena Kiechle-Kane - managing the (rapidly growing) gear locker and women’s page
Rachel Thorp - for some of the beautiful photography featured in this update, as well as heaps more amazing documentation of our growing community
Bob Mitchell - Bob has been a frequent helper as both coach and ref while stationed in New Zealand, and we're going to miss him and the whole Mitchell family who are packing up and moving back to Canada at the end of this season
Paul Manley - stepping up to do the stats for all of our adult leagues
LTP and U18/U15 assistant coaches: Antoni Dudek, Ben Dunning, Ben Dunning, Callum Hurley, Celia Jaspers, Dylan Geusebroek, Jason Tyson, Josiah Heerspring, Kenny Gustafson, Michael Chrobak, Nick Grinter, Nick Robertson, Samson Jansen Middleton, and Everett Toews
Referees - without referees, we can't play hockey, thank you so much to everyone who has helped with this, especially our head referee Steve Pause, and Tania Penafiel Bermudez who's steady two games a week have gone a long way towards setting the standard for officiating in Wellington
Scorekeepers - an often thankless job, scorekeeping is essential to our game, and I'm extremely grateful who steps up to help our games run as smoothly as possible
Our board members, each of whom keeps finding ways to squeeze in one more hockey meeting:
Secretary and lead fundraiser Luke Turner keeping WIHA connected with the NZIHF and the money flowing
Treasurer Matt Thompson who has had to go into overdrive to accommodate the rapid growth of the club
VP Operations Hannah Vanderveen who in her first year on the board has picked up the mammoth task of operations for our 3 adult divisions,
VP Adult Hockey Shelley Winters working alongside Hannah to make teams, and manage our adult league
VP Youth Hockey Liam Roth keeping our U15 & U18 program rolling and growing, with 2 youth teams plus Sunday practices
VP Comms Paul Edlin whose comms role exploded when we launched the new Learn to Play program
VP Women Megan Herlihey stepping in to the newest role on the board and leading the growth and development the flourishing community of women enjoying our great sport
Get in touch
All in all it has been a great year so far and there is lots of exciting hockey on the horizon. As always, if you have any questions, concerns or contributions you’d like to make, please feel free to have a chat with myself or another member of the board or flick us a message through the website.
Looking forward to seeing you at the rink soon,
Wellington Ice Hockey Association
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