Captains announced for the New Zealand 2018 Ice Hockey Classic

Sunday 25 March 2018

Captains announced for the New Zealand 2018 Ice Hockey Classic

The captains for the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic have been announced today with Nolan Yonkman and Zenon Konopka named as the Team Canada and Team USA captains, respectively.

Yonkman and Konopkawill will travel with Team USA and Team Canada to Auckland's Spark Arena, Wellington's Westpac Stadium and Queenstown's Ice Arena, for three action-packed exhibition matches.

Team Canada captain, Nolan Yonkman, is a renowned Canadian defenceman who currently plays for JYP of Liiga in the Finish Elite League. Yonkman played a major role in leading JYP to their first championship of the European Champions League tournament which features the elite teams from the top tier leagues from countries across Europe.

Yonkman is a former second round draft pick of the Washington Capitals of the 1999 National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft and played with the Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes, Florida Panthers and the Anaheim Ducks.

A renowned leader on and off the ice in the American Hockey League (AHL), Yonkman served as team captain on six occasions and played in over 730 AHL games.

Yonkman has thoroughly enjoyed his previous tours with the Ice Hockey Classic and is looking forward to visiting New Zealand in 2018.

"I'm thrilled to once again be a part of the Ice Hockey Classic. As always, I'll be bringing my A-game and am determined to lead Team Canada to victory," Yonkman said.

"It is exciting to reignite the Canada and USA rivalry, we're all friends off the ice but once the puck drops it's a very different story."

Team USA captain, Zenon Konopka, is a retired NHL player who played in nearly 300 NHL games over the course of his career. During his time in the NHL, Konopka was known as one of the toughest players in the league, accumulating over 1,000 penalty minutes.

During his professional career in the NHL, Konopka played for the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.

Passionate about bringing the intensity of world-class Ice Hockey to New Zealand, Konopka is confident in the Team USA line up.

"Team Canada is always a formidable opponent but we're certainly going to put up a fight and make sure our Kiwi fans feel the rivalry on the rink!" Zonopka said.

As well as showcasing the highest quality ice hockey, the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic will raise awareness and funds for the Stopconcussions Foundation.

Stopconcussions is a not-for-profit concussion and neurotrauma awareness and education platform founded by former European star, Kerry Goulet, and ex-NHL stars, Keith and Wayne Primeau.

Get ready to witness Team Canada and Team USA getting neck and neck with each other this June!