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Zac Williams, left, Ryan Williams, and Connor Adams have made the New Zealand Bantams inline hockey squad. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU

Inline hockey players off to United States

Three teenage inline hockey players hailing from Waihī have made the national under 16 team and will head to America to compete.
Zac Williams, Ryan Williams, and Connor Adams have made the New Zealand Bantams inline hockey squad after two successful weekends of trials.
The boys are all students at Waihī College and had their start in the sport with local club, The Waihī Miners.
While Ryan still plays for the club, based from the Waihī Events Centre in Haszard St, Connor and Zac now represent the Hamilton Devils.
According to Inline Hockey New Zealand, the sport, which the boys said was like “ice hockey on wheels”, had its origins in the United States.
The sport quickly spread to other countries and was now played extensively in Europe, North America, South America, Asia, and Australasia.
The first New Zealand Inline Hockey open tournament was held in May, 1995, and New Zealand first qualified for a place in the World Championships in 1999.
Zac, Ryan, and Connor will head to America in January, 2023, for the North American Roller Hockey Championships.
The event had its beginnings back in 1994, and with three of the 11 New Zealand-wide players selected for the Bantams being from Waihī College, it was evident the Hauraki town produced talented inline hockey athletes.
Ryan, 14, said it was likely due to players being able to pick up a stick at a young age.
“It’s for beginners, but you come up against teams that have been playing for a while, so you have to get better to go up levels.”
Inline hockey is different to field or ice hockey in that there are only five players, including the goalkeeper, from each team on the rink at a time.
Although the boys said inline had “less contact” than ice hockey, due to its faster game play it could still be a high-adrenaline, physical sport.
In one instance, Ryan, an attacker, successfully scored a goal but skated straight into the side of the post, shattering a tooth. Zac and Connor, who are both goalies, also said they have had “lots of shots to the head”.
But overall, they encouraged people to get in touch with their local inline hockey club, and said the sport had allowed them to meet new people and play overseas.