With a little over a week to go until the Newcastle North Stars and Melbourne Ice compete in the Trans-Tasman Champions League (TTCL) against the New Zealand Ice Hockey League’s (NZIHL) Southern Stampede and Botany Swarm, coach of the North Stars Garry Doré speaks about the North Stars involvement in the weekend:
How did the Trans-Tasman Champions League (TTCL) come about?
The Trans-Tasman Champions League is the brain child of AIHL Commissioner Tyler Lovering. While Tyler was in New Zealand last year he discussed this opportunity with our New Zealand counterparts and everybody was excited about the concept. More discussions took place and it went forward from there. It just goes to show that anything can be made to happen if people put their minds to it.
Why are the North Stars participating?
There were discussions of whether TTCL would have been all-star teams or other, but it was then decided that it should take place with the top two teams of the previous season from each country, therefore to give more players and those successful teams an opportunity to play some international hockey. As you know the North Stars finished as grand finalists, therefore won the right to compete for the TTCL.
Have the North Stars previously played against New Zealand teams before?
Yes, in 2009 the North Stars were the AIHL’s reigning premiers and represented Australia at the New Zealand Winter Games that are held every two years. We played two games against the New Zealand National Team, and we each won one game. In 2011 Australia sent and contingent of players from all the teams, and several of the North Stars were on that trip.
What advantages/benefits do you think the North Stars will get from playing the New Zealand Ice Hockey League’s (NZIHL) top two teams?
It is very exciting for the import players to get to see the sport from another country; however I look at the prestige of the event for the North Stars. We are a very hardworking and well respected organisation, therefore it is great for the team to be recognised in this capacity. In regards to the Australian players on the team, TTCL will certainly give them a great deal of pride and honour to represent their country, and hopefully instil more drive and desire to be successful this year to get the benefits of travelling to New Zealand next season and hopefully defend the TTCL championship.
Do you think the North Stars and Melbourne Ice playing in TTCL will be a disadvantage in the AIHL (due to playing extra games over the other teams)?
Definitely not, we are here to play the game, and the players will be striving to be successful. We use every game and experience to progress our standard and improve our playing. I think it will be an advantage. More hockey at this type of level is great experience for the road to the playoffs.
What are you expectations for the TTCL weekend?
The weekend will be a great experience for the whole team and we will treat it as serious as the AIHL Finals. Our goal is to win that Championship.
Will the entire North Stars team participate or a select team?
The whole team will be participating. It will take the whole team to be successful. We have a great bunch of individuals who can play as a team, and that is pretty special for any sporting group. We want to keep that momentum.
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