Inline Hockey: Star struck Kiwis falter

By Ben Guild

The New Zealand women's inline hockey team finished third out of 19 teams at the recent world championships in California, but Tauranga-based star player Danielle Maunder believes the team could have finished even higher.

She partly puts the 4-2 loss to Canada at the mammoth Honda Centre down to being overawed inside the home of the NHL franchise Anaheim Ducks.

"We were just buzzing on being in there.

"We were in the away changing room and we felt like celebrities," said Maunder.

"The rink was just massive. We could have won it - it took us 10 minutes of the game to stop stressing out and actually play hockey - and in that time we conceded two goals.

"It's hard to find your feet in games like that. It's not just the size of the rink, it's the size of the building."

The side were well prepared by winning a lead-up tournament featuring state and international teams.

"Great Britain and Australia entered, and we smoked them. It's always good to beat them.

"The team we played against in the final had a few of the girls from the American team, so it was good to see what the level of their players was like before we played the national team."

Maunder is the coach of the junior team that came fifth before tipping over the USA team in a later tournament.

With little to no funding and the age old New Zealand problem of geographic isolation, the team are likely to take a measured approach before another tilt at global domination.

That could be as many as two or three years away, but Maunder vows that next time things will be very different.

"We play against men a lot, but we never think that because we are women that we will not do as well. We have that attitude that we don't really care.

"The next time we go over we will expect to beat USA.

"That little bit of arrogance always helps."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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