Joel Rindelaub has invented a new cliché; “party in the back, party in the front”.
The US-native sports one of the finest moustache’s you could ever hope to see, all the while maintaining a glorious mullet of hair out the back.
It’s everything a hockey player could ever want when it comes to hair!
But he’s also no slouch off the ice – he’s perhaps one of the most talented individuals skating around the ice hockey scene in New Zealand.
Coming over from the US in 2017, Joel has made a name for himself playing at the Botany Swarm in the NZIHL.
Joel Rindelaub – USA vs Canada Ice Hockey Classic / James Allan Photography.
And if Botany were looking to build team chemistry, Joel was definitely the man for the job.
Not because he’s a great “team” guy (though we’re sure he is!), but because he literally has a PhD in chemistry.
That’s right, a doctor of the chemicals – as it were.
So when he’s not playing hockey, he’s researching at the University of Auckland. Either that or he’s appearing in some TV show or commercial, or maybe even a film.
Yup, he even dabbles in acting from time to time. Is there anything he can’t do?!
Joel was born in Minnesota. Like any young kid from the “state of hockey”, he was basically in skates as soon as he could walk.
“I started playing when I was about three,” he said.
“It was just kind of a way for our day-care providers to find something for us to do during the day and get us out of the house”.
Of course, hockey and Minnesota are intrinsically linked. The cold winters with guaranteed snow, means there’s basically a rink of some sort around every corner.
“Growing up in that environment, you’d always be out on the ice. Whether it be inside rinks, or the local park which had outdoor rinks.
“You can just grab a pair of skates and go out and play pretty much anytime you want, as long as you can brave the bitter cold!”
He fell in love with the game like all of us have! Despite being a goalie, Joel is still addicted to the game for the same reason’s we are.
“I think it is just the speed and skill factor,” he said.
“First of all you’re on this weird frozen water sheet, on top of that you’ve got this tiny little biscuit that you’re tossing around at high speeds. It’s a really complex game, fast, and exciting, and once you watch it you can’t look away.”
Joel’s passion would continue throughout high school including taking him to the Minnesota State High School Tournament – one of the most watched high school sporting events in the United States.
From there, he was able to play his way into college at Gustavus Adolphus where he was joined by Ice Fern Danille Justice, who was also attending at the time.
After completing his PhD at Purdue University, he got the call asking if he’d join the Botany Swarm.
“It was just kind of an excuse to travel at the time,” he said.
“Playing ice hockey all the way through uni, I could never go study abroad I always had to be stuck in school. So I decided to use hockey as a way of travelling, and turns out I kind of like it here!”
Since then, he’s been immersed in the New Zealand hockey scene, and is loving every minute.
“It’s such a great community here.
“It’s very tight knit, and everyone is really supportive. I think it’s a great place for the game to grow.
“There’s a lot of local talent here. In the NZIHL, most of the top guys are imports but I think a lot of the locals keep up with them and are just as good in their own right.”
Now, Joel wants to give back, and see the game really take off in New Zealand.
He thinks it has to start with the youth programmes, with an emphasis on good coaches, and more exposure to the game.
“I think compared to other countries, Kiwis tend to start playing ice hockey a little bit later in life so I think just really developing the youth programmes is the best way to develop the sport across the country.”
Along with this, Joel knows the misconception’s that come with the sport – particular fighting.
As he mentioned, fighting is illegal in the NZIHL and players face heavy suspensions for engaging in the activity.
He also said hockey isn’t just about trying to crush the person across from you.
“I guess the roughness of the game in general is something that a lot of people usually bring up when talking about ice hockey, but really it’s such a fast game and it has such a high amount of skill involved that the body checking and the physicality of the game can be almost secondary – in a lot of aspects – to the game itself.
So we’re hoping Joel is here to stay. He’s got another two year’s with the University of Auckland, but loves New Zealand so much, he might end up getting a passport.
“I’m just taking this year-by-year to be honest. I might seem like I know what I’m doing but no ha!”
Of course, he still misses parts of Minnesota, particularly his family and his friends, but modern technology helps keep them close.
The only other thing? He says he’s really missing the good Mexican food.
Someone get this man a burrito before we lose him!
Written By Sam Hewat