Ice Hockey a family afffair

By James Perry

The NZ Ice Hockey League got underway over the weekend, amongst the players were a pair of Ngāi Tahu brothers.

The Hopkinson brothers, Michael and Ritchie, have been playing ice hockey since they were young.  It's what keeps them together. 

Younger brother Ritchie says, "Even though we're not living together we can still chat, hang out, see what the other's doing."

Ice hockey, and the Paradise Ice Rink, are very much part of their world. 

Goal tender Michael says, "We run a social league team in the off-season as well, which is cool.  We manage that together and pick players, trade them around which is pretty fun."

The brothers originally played inline hockey, and an opportunity to play ice hockey came about and they have played ever since.  Even if it did break mum's pocket.

"There was a notice on the noticeboard at the rink offering free ice time for a goal tender, so naturally I gave it a go, shortly after that I made the Auckland team, which mum constantly reminds me- that free ice time became very expensive very quickly."

Over the years, the Botany Swarm have had varying success but the boys say they are raring to go this year.

"In the last couple of seasons we've probably been a little bit slack, but this year all the boys have been training real hard in the off-season," Michael says, "[We] want to go for gold, get another championship banner on the wall there."

While the Swarm have four national titles to their name, they haven't won one since 2011. 

Ritchie is excited by what the season has in store for them.

"I think it's going to be better towards the end of the season, the more we grow and the more we learn", he says.

Botany Swarm have had a great start to the season, sweeping aside the Canterbury Red Devils in their first two games of the season with Ritchie scoring a goal in the second game on Sunday. 

The brothers and their team next play the weekend after Queen's Birthday against the Thunder in Dunedin.