Anna Goulding on hockey in New Zealand, registering for CWHL and more

Plus former Furies player Kori Cheverie talks about her roommate, a CWHL draft prospect

Defender Anna Goulding has come all the way from New Zealand to enter the CWHL draft, and nobody in Canada knows her better than former Toronto Furies player Kori Cheverie.

Goulding’s roots and move to Canada

“I grew up on a farm in a small town [Waikaia] in the very south of New Zealand, and they put in an ice rink there, and my brother started playing through physical education,” Goulding says of her introduction to hockey. “He fell in love with the sport, and I wanted to become a figure skater. But, I took a learn-to-play hockey class in 2003 or 2004 and have been playing ever since.”

While her exposure to the sport is unique, her consumption of it sounds like a that of a hockeyist from just about anywhere on the planet.

“I’ve always kept tabs on the world championships, NCAA hockey, and especially the CWHL where all of my idols have played. Every girl [follows] Haley Wickenheiser. She’s done so many amazing things for the women’s game, it’s hard not to idolize her. I was a big fan of [fellow defenceman] Catherine Ward, I loved the way she played being so smooth and smart with the puck. And Marie-Philip Poulin is such a mastermind of the game. The CWHL has been the league I’ve wanted to play in and be a part of.”

Goulding’s love and passion for hockey rivals any Canadian.

“We get the women’s game at the Winter Olympics on TV every four years. In 2010, I skipped a day of high school to watch the women play, and it was an awesome game -- I’m always cheering Canada on.”

Luckily for Goulding, that year was a turning point for hockey in New Zealand. After the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the president of the International Olympic Committee challenged established hockey nations to extend their hands to the others to increase the level of competition across the world. Hockey Canada tapped Toronto’s Leaside Girls Hockey Association to “adopt” New Zealand -- a nation of 1,255 players, including 155 women (according to the IIHF) -- to develop the women’s game.

It was in New Zealand where Goulding met Cheverie, who was a skills coach sent by Canada to help in the exchange program. Goulding would then eventually move to Toronto to continue her training.

In 2012, Goulding moved to Canada to train at York University. There, she skated with the Langford sisters, Kiri and Rianna. Kiri won a gold medal with New Zealand in 2011 at the Division IV World Championships, and Rianna is a CWHL draft hopeful herself.

Goulding and Cheverie meet again as roommates

With Goulding hoping to land a spot on a CWHL roster, Cheverie saw an opportunity to showcase Canadian hospitality.

“I had a two-room condo and offered for her to stay with me,” says Cheverie.

“They showed such great hospitality in New Zealand, so it was a no-brainer when [Goulding] was looking for a place to live in Canada. I wanted to extend that same offer, so that she could develop and continue to play at a high level year-round in Canada. ... They just don’t have that same hockey atmosphere that we take for granted here in Canada. I think there are seven rinks in New Zealand and one of them is outdoors.”

As her roommate, Cheverie is therefore a pretty good authority on Goulding.

“She’s a great roommate who’s willing to do anything for you, which speaks to her character on the ice as well. ... I find that the players that come out of New Zealand are sponges when it comes to the game,” Cheverie reflects.

“She’s a very hard worker on and off the ice... She has practiced with the Ryerson women’s team throughout the year. Any opportunity for her to get on the ice, she would take it, even it if it meant carrying her bag for an hour. She’s an offensive defenseman, a right-handed shot -- as a lot of New Zealanders are. She’s always joining or starting the rush.”

“I’m a right-handed shot because I played field hockey for five years where I shot right,” Goulding explains. “It’s been a weird thing over the years that [New Zealand] has more righties and not enough lefties. I think it’s because of the way we start with field hockey and how it’s more natural to continue shooting right-handed.”

Excited for the CWHL draft

Surely, the Markham Thunder or Toronto Furies won’t mind the advent of an offensive-minded, right-handed defender.

“I’m a defenceman with a solid game, I’m pretty aggressive in the corners and in front of the net, I’m not gonna shy away from anything,” says Goulding of her style of play. “I have offensive capabilities. I work extremely hard and am always open to help to advice. I think I bring a lot of fun and energy to the team.”

“It’s an awesome challenge and learning experience. I always want to improve and learn more about hockey. We’ve had a few New Zealand girls pick up their hockey careers and look elsewhere because you get to a certain stage in our country when you have to move on if you want to keep learning and growing.”

“To be given a chance to play from any team would be an amazing opportunity that I will cherish. Trying to make a roster and play regularly is the goal. There’s a lot for me to learn. I’ve played in the Swedish league where they play hockey differently than in Canada. With the draft, I’ll go with the flow -- I don’t really know what to expect.”

Another adventure seems like it’s in the cards.