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NZ's Ice Blacks and Australia's Mighty Roos return to Queenstown

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation (NZIHF) in association with Winter Games NZ have announced the return of the Trans-Tasman Challenge; a three-test series of international ice hockey between New Zealand’s Ice Blacks and Australia’s Mighty Roos.

"The 2019 Trans-Tasman Challenge Ice Hockey series brings together New Zealand and Australia, two great rival sporting nations," said Andy Mills, President of the NZIHF.

"We are excited to have the Trans-Tasman Challenge presented by Queenstown Resort College confirmed in the 2019 programme, and we look forward to some great New Zealand vs Australia rivalry in the heart of Queenstown as we join together in celebrating 10 years of excellence," said Martin Toomey, Winter Games NZ CEO.

"The experience that our players have had in each of the past two series has been remarkable, not only for the competition on ice, but also for the wonderful hospitality that Queenstown is rightly famous for," said Ian Webster, Mighty Roos General Manager.

"Our hosts have ensured that this series is talked about by players and coaches as being a highlight of their ice hockey year. All of the games have been highly competitive, and a number of players selected for the Winter Games NZ have used it as a springboard to gain selection for the Mighty Roos at the following IIHF World Championships," said Mr Webster.

New Zealand and Australia last met at the 2018 Winter Games NZ with the teams previously having met at the 2009, 2011 and 2017 Winter Games NZ. Each country has won the three-test series twice, with the Ice Blacks winning in 2009 and 2018 and the Mighty Roos in 2011 and 2017.

"This year the Mighty Roos will be out for redemption while the Ice Blacks will want to maintain their superiority on home ice," said Mr Mills.

While the games are sanctioned by the IIHF, they do not count towards world rankings.

"In sports competition terms it’s ice hockey’s Bledisloe’, said Mr Mills.

"The Trans-Tasman Challenge is a ‘friendly’ tournament with plenty of trans-tasman rivalry. Since 2009 each nation has won twice which is contributing to the anticipation around the 2019 meet up," said Mr Mills.

New Zealand and Australia have recently returned from their IIHF divisional world championships. The teams are separated by only one division. New Zealand travelled to Mexico and played Iceland, North Korea, Israel, Georgia and Mexico in IIHF Division II Group B, winning a bronze medal. Ice Black Stefan Amston (Skycity Stampede) was selected as the tournament’s Best Defenseman and Matthew Schneider (Skycity Stampede) was the tournament’s fourth top skater by points.

Australia’s world championship campaign in the IIHF Division 2 Group A in Serbia also earned them a bronze medal competing against Serbia, Croatia, Belgium, China and Spain. Mighty Roo Josef Rezek (Adelaide Adrenalin) was the tournament’s eighth top skater by points.

Ahead of the series, in Southern Hemisphere ice hockey history, Australia have beaten New Zealand 17 out of 21 times. New Zealand are currently ranked 40th and Australia 35th in the world of international ice hockey.

The launch of ticket sales for the 2019 Trans-Tasman Challenge presented by Queenstown Resort College is highly anticipated in Queenstown with previous years selling out before the series began. General public sales begin at 12noon, Friday 19 July.

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