International ice hockey comes to Aotearoa

By James Perry

The Ice Hockey Classic between the USA and Canada begins tonight in Tāmaki Makaurau. 

Among the USA team are the Brennan brothers, who are from New Jersey.  Younger brother Shane is excited to be here to promote the sport, "cause it's the best sport in the world, c'mon!"

Last night the players had the opportunity to meet and greet NZ ice hockey fans.

The brothers got to witness a haka, something they had only seen previously on YouTube.  It left an impression on them, with older brother TJ Brennan describing it as "intense. It's a lot of tradition involved obviously in the country so it's great to be a part of that."

Shane however had a different take, saying he felt the pride of New Zealand was on display, "I don't wanna say anything bad, that little sourness with Australia, [the haka] is kinda like 'we've got our backs.'"

TJ is one of a handful of players this weekend who have NHL experience in America.

He says that while he enjoys living his childhood dreams, "There's so much pleasure I take in coming here and being able to do this.  It's a different type of hockey and something I probably didn't think I would ever see myself doing as a kid."

The game between the USA and Canada at Auckland's Spark Arena is a near sell-out.  TJ says with many different ways to entertain in ice hockey, the crowd will not be disappointed.

"You know, scoring goals, making fancy plays, wowing the crowds in that way and also being physical and putting on a good show," he says.

The first game of the series is tonight in Auckland, before they move to Wellington on Saturday and then Queenstown for game 3 on Thursday.