The Nelson Leafs will have a hockey rarity on their roster next season.
The team has signed Dunedin, New Zealand native Max Hurring, a defenceman who will be 18 when the KIJHL regular season starts Sept. 13.
Leafs general manager Lance Morey said a former BCHL player he knows coached Hurring in Sweden as a 16-year-old. He helped Hurring move to Ontario to play for the St. George Ravens of the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League last season, when he had three goals and 14 assists in 42 regular season games.
Hurring has also played for New Zealand’s under-20 men’s junior team. Morey says bringing Hurring to Nelson could open up future possibilities for recruiting in a country not known for its hockey teams.
“If he continues to pan out and continues to improve, then who knows? Maybe this is a pipeline to an avenue for hockey players we’ve never had.”
Hockey players from New Zealand are an uncommon sight on North American rinks, especially at higher levels of the sport.
Only one Kiwi has ever been drafted by an NHL team — that was forward Matt Schneider by the Calgary Flames in 2004. Schneider, who was born in Vernon, actually began his junior career with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks.
The Leafs have also re-signed forward Jackson Zimmermann. The 20 year old had 11 goals and 10 assists during the 2017-18 regular season. He had one goal in two games last season before leaving the team for personal reasons.
The Leafs’ training camp runs Aug. 23 to 25 at the Nelson and District Community Complex.