While most ice hockey players are glad to see the back of a long, arduous season by the time April comes around, they don’t want to start thinking about it again until at least June.
However, there are a few players that have made the move from the Elite League to play their summer in Australia or New Zealand to keep themselves ticking over, while at the same time, getting themselves ready for another campaign here.
A few familiar faces to the Elite League are doing just that and as the seasons in both countries head for their climax, a couple of players who made those very moves are reflecting on their time down under.
Manchester Storm defenceman Zach Sullivan and Bracknell Bees netminder Adam Goss have spent their summer in New Zealand with Canterbury Red Devils.
The Devils have two games left, but are marooned at the bottom of the table, picking up only one win from their 14 games so far so in many respects, it’s a campaign to forget.
For Sullivan and Goss, they’ve had a fabulous experience of a very different country to what they’re used to back home in the UK, especially at this time of year.
The story of ‘Sully’s’ experience is an interesting one, admitting it was a move to help him rekindle his love for ice hockey after what he regarded as a personally difficult season at Glasgow Clan, despite the club enjoying great fortune on the ice.
And, despite Canterbury’s woes, it’s helped him achieve that and reinvigorated him before he reunites with former coach Ryan Finnerty in Manchester.
“After a difficult season in Glasgow for me personally, I wanted to fall back in love with hockey again and I spoke to Ross Venus and Ciaran Long, who I know well and they spoke well of Canterbury and the club from their time there,” Sullivan said.
“It seemed like the perfect fit for me to come here and find that love again. Plus, being a bit of a geek, I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan, coming out here to see where they filmed it allowed me to kill two birds with one stone.
“My love for hockey seemed to fade over time, when you do something over and over every day and can become something of a chore to the point we forget how lucky we are to do something we really love and get paid for it.
“Plus we get opportunities to travel and see certain parts of the world like I have and you can lose the fun side of it. I needed to be reminded of that and I’ve come to a place where I’m playing with a great bunch of players and they make it fun.”
For Goss, who joined National League side Bracknell from Milton Keynes Lightning, where it was a frustrating time, sitting on the bench at a time when off the ice turmoil clouded what was a very disappointing season.
His reasons are different to Sullivan’s in so far as he’s looking for the ice time after a season of warming the bench, plus feels he’s ready to kick on in his career.
But Goss highlighted the cost of being able to train at home compared to what he’s currently doing in New Zealand as a reason to prepare for 2019/2020 in a rather different way.
He added: “It’s a beautiful country and we get to travel and see different things, plus playing hockey, it helps to keep us in tune during the off-season as well.
“Zach and I are both at the stage in our careers where we’re looking to push on and develop further to help us go on to bigger and better things in the future. It also gives us somewhere to play, because ice time is so expensive back home.
“It’s the perfect opportunity to develop over the summer, gain more experience and travel so it’s a move that works well for us.
“Playing for Canterbury is a lot of fun and much less intense than what’s it like in the Elite League. It’s offence focussed which is good for me, as a goalie, as there are plenty of shots in every game. It’s definitely much better than being in the gym all summer for hours.”
On the face of it, the schedule seems to be far less intense than it would be in a regular season week in the UK, where it’s wall to wall training, video and systems.
This allows the players the chance to make the most of a wonderful experience of seeing parts of the world they wouldn’t normally see.
“We train on Tuesday and Thursday nights and most days, I’ve been worked on a fitness programme ‘Gossy’ come up with so I’ve been doing that,” Sullivan said.
“During the days, I’ve been on TripAdvisor and Yelp, looking at reviews for places to go and trying to visit anywhere and everywhere I can.
“We have a couple of games at the weekend then it’s back to it. I know ‘Gossy’ from the GB U20s so it’s nice to have someone out here I know that makes it a shared experience, coupled with the players out here, it really makes it a lot of fun.
“They keep you right in terms of where to go and will often come with us as well.
Goss added: “It’s a little less professional here than in the UK, which is not a criticism. The fans are very supportive and we’ve met some fantastic people out here from top to bottom. There’s just a little less pressure.
“The travelling is the big thing I’ll take from the experience out here and I would recommend it to anyone who can get out here. It’s a beautiful place and full of amazing people.”
ELITE LEAGUE PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT PLAYING DOWN UNDER THIS SUMMER
Paul Crowder (Sydney Ice Dogs)
Tim Crowder (Sydney Ice Dogs)
Grant Toulmin (Sydney Ice Dogs)
Danick Gauthier (Sydney Bears)
Trevor Gerling (Canberra Brave)
Jordan Owens (Melbourne Mustangs)
Maxine Langlier-Parent (Melbourne Mustangs coach)
Liam Stewart (Skycity Stampede)
Zach Sullivan (Canterbury Red Devils)
Adam Goss (Canterbury Red Devils)