|Posted on May 2, 2013 at 3:00 AM|
The Swarm are excited to welcome four new import players to New Zealand for the upcoming season.
Changes to the NZIHL rules mean that last season's team leading goal scorer Alexandr Polozov (Estonia) is now considered an assimilated import, as is forward Matthias Mühl (Germany), who had several games with the Swarm last year.
Newcomers Brandon Contratto, Evan Mackintosh (USA) Mickey Rhodes (USA), and Vitaliy Meshkov (Russia) will join them and the rest of the home-grown squad as they compete for the Birgel Cup in 2013.
Contratto is also a graduate of US college hockey, competing for the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 2008-2012. He was a member of the US National University Team in 2011, and played professionally in the Czech 2nd League in 2012/2013, where he had 20 points in 27 games. In the off season he coaches youth and junior hockey teams in the MWJHL in Michigan.
Contratto 's leadership skills have been praised widely through his hockey career to date, as has his facility as a set-up man, with his points totals usually benefitting from a generous number of assists at every level of hockey he has played.
Contratto plans on heading south to join the team in the beginning of May.
Mackintosh is a native-born Californian who played his junior hockey in the EJHL with the Boston Jr Bruins. After growing up in San Jose, he had several years of NCAA hockey in Michigan and Minnesota with Wayne State University and the University of St Thomas, and has preseason experience with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL and Columbus Cottonmouths of the SPHL.
A right hand shot, Mackintosh has played at forward for his hockey career thus far, with two 50 point seasons in the EJHL. A business major, he graduated in 2011.
Another San Jose boy who played college hockey, Rhodes was captain at San Jose State University for several seasons and averaged just over a point per game through his ACHA career. At 6'4", Rhodes is the prototypical power forward, racking up points and laying big hits on opponents.
Majoring in Radio, Film and TV, he graduated in 2011, and aimed to either work in film or pursue a professional hockey career. He headed Downunder after graduation to play for the Canberra Knights of the AIHL, where he was once again a point-per-game player.
Rhodes and Mackintosh have been good friends since childhood, and both are due to travel to New Zealand in mid-May.
Meshkov will be the lone addition to the defensive corps in this year's import crop, hailing from Barabinsk in Russia. At 27 years old, he will be one of the older players on the team, and should provide steadiness and experience.
The Swarm's first home game this season will be a preseason tilt against the West Auckland Admirals on Tuesday May 21st – make sure you're there to check out the action!