It snows in Levin about once or twice every century yet somehow the town has produced an ice hockey player who will take on the world.

And the closest thing that Amber Metcalfe might find to ice in her temperate home town is an early morning winter puddle or an ice cube in the freezer.

But that hasn't stopped the 14-year-old schoolgirl from being picked for the U18 New Zealand women's team to compete at an international event in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in April.

"Amber breathes hockey, she is out in the shed daily practising her stick handling and shooting. She is dedicated and committed to the sport, I'm so proud of her drive and motivation, especially at such a young age."

Metcalfe belonged to the Levin Thunder Inline Hockey Club and had shown rare talent — albiet on roller blades — since joining five years ago according to coach and mentor Arden Phillips.


"In 25 years of coaching I haven't seen anything quite like it," he said.

"For someone who is from Levin where there is no ice ... I am telling you now that this is something special."

The closest ice rink to Levin was in Petone, more than an hour's drive away. Metcalfe trained there twice weekly and that meant for some late school nights sometimes not getting back until 11.30pm.

The transition to ice all started when Metcalfe attended an ice hockey camp and New Zealand trial in Auckland last October where they held scrimmage sessions, games and training sessions.

"The skill sets are similar but there are some technique changes needed — one can help with the other," he said.

Metcalfe also made the training squad for the New Zealand U18 Women's inline team who are attending the World Roller Games in Barcelona in June, in what Phillips described as the Olympics of the sport.

She was pinching herself about the year ahead.

"I can't believe I get to travel to Abu Dhabi to play ice hockey and I'll get to ride a camel," she said.


Her mother Donna Metcalfe said the garage at their Levin home was now a shrine to hockey with a goal and all her trophies and playing shirts adorning the walls.

"Amber breathes hockey, she is out in the shed daily practising her stick handling and shooting. She is dedicated and committed to the sport, I'm so proud of her drive and motivation, especially at such a young age," she said.

"We are lucky within our club to have so many senior members that have represented New Zealand and willing to encourage and support our younger members. It's a huge family club and great to be part of."

Phillips said Levin Thunder had a forged a good reputation for producing players and teams that not only performed well at national level, but also conducted themselves professionally.

He said that reputation helped in the eyes of national selectors and four other players had gained NZ selection, in what was a coup for the club.

Sammy Haywood, 16, had also won selection for the U18 tournament, while Zyran Hurst, 14, Brookland Langdon, 14, and Jeremy Healey, 12, were picked for NZ teams competing at the Junior Inline Hockey World Championship in Hawaii in July.

Katrina Edwards, from Levin, would also be attending as manager of the NZ Masters team.
Phillips was full of praise for how hard the players trained, and singled out Haywood and Metcalfe for special mention.

"They are not hard to motivate. They are the hardest working girls in the country," he said.

"I'm not just saying this because I work with them."

The Levin Inline Hockey Club use Horowhenua Events Centre as their rink. Metcalfe joined the club in 2014 and had played in the Inline Hockey New Zealand (IHNZ) National Championships every year since.

She made the New Zealand Junior Women's team for the Oceania Inline Hockey Championships against Australia in Hamilton in April last year and said she loved her sport.

"I have made so many friends around New Zealand playing ice and inline hockey," she said.

To meet some of the cost of attending the overseas events her family was organising a fundraiser night at Levin Cosmopolitian Club next month.

Meanwhile, it will be a big year for Levin inline hockey as the club would host the national championships.

The New Zealand competition would start in late September and would be held at Horowhenua Events Centre with more than 80 teams competing.