The best thing was that I made a bunch of new friends

Nov 24, 2013 - Over the coming months we be finding out what our players and coaches have been up to. First player up is Red Devils forward Marcus Bengtsson.

So tell us all what you have been up to since Canterbury won the NZIHL title in August? When I got back to Sweden I first took a month vacation from both work and hockey.

What part of the world are you in right now? I’m in Varnamo in the south of Sweden. I moved there to play hockey and I also work changing tires on cars.

What was your favourite experience with the Canterbury Red Devils? It was everything. All the players and the staff was so nice and made it so easy to play there as an import. It didn´t matter what problem I had, the team fixed it. And to top that, we won the championship!

How do you rate NZIHL hockey in terms skill and passion? I think it´s difficult to compare the hockey in NZ and in Sweden because the game is different. The hockey in NZ is more offensive and in Sweden it´s more focus on the defence. But the hockey in NZ was much better than I expected and I think Red Devils could compete with the team in my current league.

How many times are you on the ice per week now? Usually five times a week, but sometimes we play 3 games a week and then I’m on the ice 6 times a week.

Before coming to New Zealand had you heard anything about the ice hockey here? Not much. I spoke to Maxim Fokin about his experience there and I heard it was a decent league. The people in Sweden got surprised when I told them I was gonna play in NZ.

Do you have much spare time to sight-see or socialize with your new team? We don’t have very much spare time, but most of the guys hangs out after practice, usually at our place.

Have you told your new team mates about the NZIHL and the Red Devils? I have, and a lot of them where very interested of my trip. I think the hockey in NZ got more interest after my blog during the season too.

Would you ever come back to be involved with the Red Devils again? Absolutely, my stay in NZ was the best time of my life. So if I’m in the same situation as last time, I would definitely come again.

How many games are in your season? In the regular season there is 36 games. But if we make the last league for promotion we play nearly 50 games.

Who do you rate as the New Zealand born talents of the league? I think there is a couple guys who was very good. My good friends from Red Devils, Chris Eaden, Brett Speirs (although he´s getting old, lol), Mike Coleman. It was also fun to see a youngster as Jake Ratcliffe show great talent in the end of the season.

How many players on your new team's roster and how many coaches/staff? We are currently 24 players totally. Then we have two coaches and 5-6 equipment guys.

How did playing for/being involved in the Red Devils in 2013 help you moving forward in your hockey (i.e. the connections you made)? It was very fun to play a different type of hockey and to play on a small ice. But the best thing was that I made a bunch of new friends. I also got to improve my writing skills when I was running my blog.

Do you think the NZIHL could potentially move to 24 (from 16) games and still retain players/competition? I definitely think it´s a good way to go because the players in the league need more games and ice time to improve as players. You could tell during the season that a lot of guys took a great step as a player.

What are your thoughts on the 'import' rule, in which teams can have 4 non-New Zealanders? Do you think it should be more/less why/why not? I think it´s good as it is with 4 players. The import players should be top players in the league, not taking space from equal good NZ-players. If you could have 7-8 import players that probably would be bad for the league in long term.

Thanks Marcus

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