When you think of ice hockey powerhouses, New Zealand might not be the first country that comes to mind. But hidden beyond the stunning landscapes and laid-back culture of the Land of the Long White Cloud, there is a growing group of talented ice hockey players with split nationalities who could potentially make a significant impact on the local and international hockey scene. Let’s take a closer look at three key players who have been making waves in their respective leagues and could potentially bolster the national team and local leagues in New Zealand.
Dominic Canic, a dynamic forward, currently plies his trade in the Croatian Ice Hockey League for KHL Zagreb. Born to a Croatian father and a Kiwi mother, Canic holds dual citizenship in both New Zealand and Croatia. His offensive prowess, including his scoring ability and playmaking skills, has earned him a reputation as a formidable force on the ice. Canic’s experience playing in Europe, combined with his Croatian hockey background, could make him a valuable asset for New Zealand’s national team and the development of local leagues.
Canic’s journey in hockey has been remarkable. Starting his career in New Zealand, he quickly rose through the ranks and caught the attention of scouts with his raw talent and skill set. He then made the bold decision to pursue opportunities in Europe, where he joined KHL Zagreb in Croatia. Since then, he has been a key contributor to the team’s success, earning accolades for his offensive prowess and overall playmaking ability. Canic’s dual nationality has not only allowed him to represent Croatia internationally but also presents a unique opportunity for him to potentially don the black jersey of New Zealand in international competitions, which could greatly benefit the growth of the sport in the country.
Another player with dual nationality who has been making waves in the hockey world is Aleksander Leonelli. Holding both New Zealand and US citizenship, Leonelli has been showcasing his talents as a forward in Utah with West Coast Renegades U16 AAA of the NAPHL. His offensive skills, including his scoring ability and playmaking, have earned him a reputation as a skilled and reliable player on the ice.
Leonelli’s journey saw him join the Boston Junior Bruins AAA U16 and U18 Teams from 2021 – 2023. With aspirations to play NCAA Division 1 hockey, Leonelli is fully devoted to honing his skills and reaching new heights in his hockey career. While he continues to make strides in his development, his experience playing in the US and with his hockey background could potentially provide valuable expertise that could benefit New Zealand’s national team and local leagues in the future.
Nara Elia, a highly skilled ice hockey player with a deep connection to New Zealand, is also making waves in the world of women’s ice hockey. Born on June 15, 2001, in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, Elia’s parents hail from New Zealand/Samoa, instilling in her a profound appreciation for the country and its ice hockey program. Fueled by her parents’ heritage, Elia could be an amazing player to represent New Zealand on the international stage, making her a potential asset to the New Zealand national team.
Elia’s hockey journey has been marked by exceptional skill, speed, and determination on the ice. She has honed her talents by playing for various teams at different levels, consistently proving herself as a formidable player. Her collegiate career at Boston University, where she played for the Terriers women’s ice hockey team and Captaining the NCAA Division 1 side in 2021. Following a 1 year stint at St. Lawrence University. This period has been a showcase of her abilities, earning her recognition for her outstanding performance.
Elia has honed her talents by playing for various teams at different levels, including her current season in Sweden, where she has been having a standout performance. In 30 games, Elia has scored an impressive 17 goals and contributed 13 assists, accumulating a total of 30 points. Her remarkable performance on the ice further cements her status as a rising talent in the sport.
As a forward, Elia possesses outstanding scoring instincts and playmaking skills, fueled by her speed and agility. Her unwavering passion for the sport and her strong desire to represent New Zealand at the international level could make her a valuable addition to the national team roster. Her natural leadership qualities and dedication to the game have made her a respected figure among her teammates and coaches alike.
Elia’s ties to New Zealand through her parents make her a compelling prospect for the New Zealand national team. Her remarkable season in Sweden serves as a testament to her abilities and highlights her potential to contribute to the growth of ice hockey in New Zealand. With her exceptional talent, unwavering work ethic, and deep connection to the country, Nara Elia is undoubtedly a player to watch on the international ice hockey stage.
The emergence of players like Canic, Elia and Leonelli, who hold dual nationalities with New Zealand, presents a unique opportunity for the growth of ice hockey in the country. These players bring with them a wealth of experience and skillsets developed in international leagues, which could potentially elevate the level of play in New Zealand’s national team and local leagues. Their dedication to the sport and commitment to their respective teams is evident, and their passion for representing New Zealand on the international stage is palpable.
Ice Hockey New Zealand has been making strides in recent years to develop the sport at the grassroots level, with a particular focus on growing the participation of local players and improving the competitiveness of the national team. The inclusion of players like Canic, Elia and Leonelli, with their dual nationality and international experience, could undoubtedly provide a boost to these efforts. Their presence could not only enhance the skill level of the national team but also serve as role models and inspire young aspiring players in New Zealand to chase their dreams in the world of ice hockey.
As the sport continues to gain traction and popularity in New Zealand, the emergence of talented players with dual nationalities could be a game-changer. Their success in European/North American leagues and their commitment to representing New Zealand could help raise the profile of ice hockey in the country and attract more young players to the sport.
Moreover, Canic, Elia and Leonelli’s experiences abroad could also provide valuable insights and knowledge that could contribute to the development of local leagues in New Zealand. Their exposure to different playing styles, coaching methods, and training techniques can be invaluable in elevating the level of play and fostering growth within the local hockey community.
Ice Hockey New Zealand has been proactive in identifying and nurturing talent within the country, but the inclusion of players with dual nationalities brings a new dimension to the sport. These players bring a unique blend of international experience and Kiwi pride, which could add depth and diversity to the national team and local leagues. Their presence could also potentially attract more attention and investment into the sport, leading to improved facilities, resources, and opportunities for young players in New Zealand.
The potential of players with dual nationalities in New Zealand’s ice hockey scene is indeed promising. With these players as prime examples of the talent that exists beyond our own country, there is an opportunity to tap into this resource and create a more competitive and dynamic ice hockey landscape. These players have already demonstrated their abilities on the international stage, and their passion, dedication and commitment to the sport could be great potential in representing New Zealand in the future.
The emergence of dual nationality ice hockey players from New Zealand, such as Dominic Canic, Aleksander Leonelli, and Nara Elia, presents a unique opportunity for the growth and development of ice hockey in the country. These players bring with them a wealth of experience and skill sets developed in international leagues, which could potentially elevate the level of play in New Zealand’s national team and local leagues. Their dedication to the sport, exceptional talents, and ties to New Zealand make them compelling prospects for the future of ice hockey in the country. Hockey fans in New Zealand and around the world can eagerly anticipate their continued success and contributions to the sport.