This week, the NZIHL announced some exciting changes ahead of the 2013 season via their Twitter account which will greatly benefit the sport in both New Zealand and Australia. Andrew Hewitt with more.
Following the New Zealand Ice Hockey League’s (NZIHL) AGM in February, there have been some changes to the structure of the rosters that will excite many fans both Kiwi and Australian fans of the league.
Announced via the NZIHL Twitter account and later confirmed to HSN by NZIHL Media & Marketing Manager Jez Brown there have been some alterations to the import ruling.
Replacing the ruling of seven import players that was in place throughout the 2012 NZIHL season, the 2013 structure will allow for four import players plus two assimilated players. Assimilated players are described by the NZIHL as players that hold unlimited ITC for two years minimum.
By dropping the import numbers by three could be seen as a move that would detract form the spectacle from a viewing perspective, however in reality, with the assimilated players, the number of imports is virtually six. When combined with the other changes to the roster rulings, the spectacle should improve.
Other roster changes include alterations to the junior involvement in the NZIHL. Rather than having to include U/18 and U/20 players on the roster, NZIHL teams must now dress at least two U/20 players and one U/18 player each game. The injection of youth into the open age NZIHL competition will only help to grow the junior programs in New Zealand.
In possibly the most exciting news to come out of the NZIHL AGM regarding the team rosters, Australian players will now be considered as local players. All Australians that play in the NZIHL will still require an International Transfer Card. As former AIHL Assistant Commissioner Peter Lambert pointed out in response to the NZIHL’s announcement on Twitter, this is now the same as the AIHL.
Enabling the crossover between the two nations will only help to build the strength of both the AIHL and NZIHL. This presents opportunities for Australian players who miss out on an AIHL roster spot in cities flooded with talent such as Melbourne. However more importantly, the ruling may now offer the Gold Coast Blue Tongues players that are unable to find an AIHL home in 2013 another option.
In addition to allowing Australian players the chance to play in the NZIHL without the import tag, the league will also allow assistance for international players in the form of flights and accommodation while remaining an amateur organisation.
What do you think of the changes made to the NZIHL format for the 2013 season? Are you looking forward to the NZIHL season? Tell us who you support and how you think they’ll go in 2013.
By Andrew Hewitt
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