For a brief moment, there was a chance the Ice Hockey Classic would not be able to grace New Zealand.

Due to shipping delays which included parts for the rink being sent to Bolivia as well as issues getting parts out of Singapore, organiser Kerry Goulet said he was worried he'd have to cancel.

But despite the delays, Kiwis will still be able to get a taste of one of the greatest sporting rivalries in history.

Teams from the USA and Canada will face off in Auckland on Friday and Wellington on Saturday, before travelling down to Queenstown on Thursday.


Byron Froese, a centre with the Montreal Canadiens in the National Hockey League, was among those to be suiting up for the match, playing for Team Canada.

"To come out here and play a few games, see a different side of the world, it's an unbelievable experience," he said.

Froese, who has played over 100 games in the NHL, said the game was an opportunity to come and put on a display of top-level ice hockey for a part of the world who wouldn't otherwise see anything like it.

"It's going to be fun for the fans. If I ever get to go to a rugby game or something like that while I'm out here, it'd be unbelievable for me. It's an eye opening experience."

Of the 27 players fronting for the New Zealand dates, 10 have played in the NHL while Team USA coach Dennis Maruk racked up 888 appearances in the league.

Team USA goalie Richard Bachman said while some people might be a bit skeptical, the teams would be going out there to win.

"I think you'll be quite surprised at how fast and how hard guys play out there."

The Classic was set up as a way of raising awareness of the sport and support for Goulet's StopConcussions Foundation.

Goulet suffered three documented concussions in his playing career, and set up the foundation to raise awareness of the affects of concussions.

New York Rangers centre Peter Holland will play for Team Canada. Photo / Getty Images
New York Rangers centre Peter Holland will play for Team Canada. Photo / Getty Images

He's developed it together with former NHL player Keith Primeau. Primeau had three 30-goal seasons in the NHL, but was forced to retire after 15 seasons due to concussion.

Goulet said they were trying to remind people "we're not gladiators, we're humans."

The puck drops in Auckland at 7:30 on Friday night, with the West Auckland Admirals taking on the Botany Swarm at 3pm.

Ice Hockey Classic rosters
Team Canada
Goalie: Chris Driedger
Defence: Nolan Yonkman (c), Kevin Noble, Spiro Goulakos, Karl Stollery
Forwards: Byron Froese, Peter Holland, Tyler Gron, Kyle Baun, Mario Trabucco, Ian Watters, Eric Neilson, Matt Bissonnette, David Rutherford.
Coach: Paul Rosen

Team USA
Goalie: Richard Bachman
Defence: TJ Brennan, Aaron Johnson, Jake Kulevich, Jesse Craige
Forwards: Zenon Konopka (c), Shane Brennan, John Dunbar, Michael Budd, Jason Bust, Ed Gale, Trevor Gerling, Nick Lazoroko
Coach: Dennis Maruk