Over the weekend of November 11th and 12th Auckland hosted the Inaugural National Premier League Tournament. The main objective was to provide an awesome weekend of hockey to the highest level of non-check adult players and bring people together for some good times with mates.
The tournament featured 6 teams (5 from Auckland and 1 from Wellington). Auckland teams where The Toe Dragons, The Blue Rangers, The Travelling Goons, The Deja Vu and the Free Agents which featured a team made up of free agents that wanted to take part in the tournament but didn’t have a team. The lone out of town team was the Wellington Seals.
Teams played 4v4 with two 12 minute halves and a total of 8 games guaranteed over the course of the 2 days. The format made for a fast paced, offensive style of hockey with some minor tweaks to some rules. There was no Icing and penalties where reduced to 1 minute in light of the shortened game length. There was also a “play the puck rule” where offensive teams were encouraged to back off and allow the goalie to play the puck in order to keep the game flowing and reduce the number of whistles and faceoffs. The games were intense and entertaining and feedback of the format has been really positive. After the games on Saturday night there was a mix and mingle event at The Tradehub with some beers and pizzas provided, some rock ‘em sock ‘em highlights on the projector and everyone was encouraged to wear their favourite hockey jersey.
The tournament wrapped up on the Sunday night with an undefeated Déjà vu playing the Wellington Seals in the finals. Wellington came out on top taking home the inaugural Shield and the gold medals.
Teams that competed this year will have an opportunity to reserve their spot for 2024. We will be looking to expand the tournament and it would be great to have at least 1 team from each region attend in year 2. The goal is to make the tournament a calendar highlight for Premier level players and bring people from around the country together to share in some high-level hockey and some good times with their mates. 2024 will see the tournament results, standings and a stats page online, individual player awards such as top goalie, leading scorer, team and tournament MVP’s etc. We will also be making improvements to the mix and mingle event by having spot prizes and a raffle. In general, we want to make the tournament bigger and better.
A huge thank you to the team managers for their efforts in organising their teams, the on and off-ice officials for all of their work in keeping the games flowing and fun and to Andrew Neilson for the in-house entertainment.
Bring on 2024!