SHARE
Skating to silver .Ice Fernz defender Rebecca Lilly, formerly of Gore, competes at the International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championships. The Ice Fernz won silver in Division IIB. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Four years ago, Rebecca Lilly (then 16) left her family and friends in Gore in search of more ice hockey experience in North America. On Monday, Lilly (now 20) won silver with the New Zealand Ice Fernz team at the International Ice Hockey Federation [IIHF] Women’s World Championships in Division IIB, in Romania. The Ensign caught up with Lilly as she travelled back to the United States with her medal.

For Lilly there is no other feeling like wearing the black and white jersey for the New Zealand Ice Fernz.

However, winning a silver medal at the IIHF Women’s World Championships Division IIB in Brasov, Romania with the team just made it a little sweeter.

“I love it, it’s been such an honour to represent my country. It’s been a while since this team’s been in the top two.

“We have a strong group of girls and have strong chemistry – there’s nothing like it,” Lilly said.

The round robin competition involved six teams competing over seven days: Chinese Taipei, Turkey, Iceland, Croatia, Romania and the Ice Fernz.

The Fernz won four out of five games, losing in their first match to Taipei, which went on to win gold.

The hardest game was against Iceland, in which the Fernz scored the winning goal with 1min 28sec to spare, Lilly said.

“It’s been so back and forward with them every time we play. They would win one game and we’d win one over the years.

“It’s always a great battle against them. They’re a great team.”

Lilly played with a niggly hip injury and said it was hard to battle through after two weeks of intense training before the competition.

“The hardest part was battling through the injury and dealing with the tiredness from the build-up but also being mentally tired as well.

“We played Taipei first up. Had we played them later in the week, I think we could’ve beaten them.”

She had been a member of the Fernz for the past five years and found it easy to link up with the team despite being overseas.

“I grew up playing with these girls. I love seeing them and being able to play with them.”

Lilly moved to Canada in 2015, where she attended high school for three years in Winnipeg and Toronto.

The opportunity of an ice hockey scholarship to Finlandia University, in Michigan, was too good to pass up.

“The level of ice hockey over here compared to back home is insane. I have improved so much personally,” she said.

For now, she would return to Michigan and hone her craft before her season began again properly at the end of the year.