NZIHL May 5, 2024  116

“benched” Takes On A New Meaning For Matthew Canaday.

After an impressive career, goaltender Matthew Canaday announces his retirement from active play to take on the position of Head Coach for the Botany Swarm, alongside assistant coaches Quintin Steytler and Kevin Simon.

Canaday’s journey from the chilly rinks of Saskatoon to leading the Botany Swarm showcases the sport’s universal appeal. Initially playing for the Red Devils in Christchurch in 2011, Canaday then joined the Dunedin’s Phoenix Thunder for two seasons before settling in Auckland. Known for his exceptional saves, unwavering commitment, and inspirational leadership that resonated with teammates and fans, Canaday has elevated the skills of New Zealand goaltenders.

A standout goalie in the NZIHL, he participated in three playoff series, displaying his talent and determination in high-stakes games. Canaday’s outstanding skills earned him prestigious accolades, including recognition as the league’s Best Goaltender and achievements such as the Best Goals Against Average (GAA) and Best Save Percentage (SVS%). His consistent performance solidifies his position as one of the top goaltenders in the league’s history.

Transitioning from player to mentor and strategist, Canaday brings global experience and an understanding of the game finely turned over a lifetime as he steps into the role of Head Coach. His appointment marks a new chapter for the Botany Swarm.

Reflecting on his retirement and new position, Canaday expressed gratitude for the chance to continue contributing to the sport he loves.

“I’m not the fruitful young lad I used to be. I emptied the tank last year and had the summer to decide if my body could handle another year,” says Canaday. “I decided it was time to turn the page and retire from hockey after 30 years of getting frozen vulcanised rubber shot at my head.”

“It’s time I give back to a sport that has given me so much. I’m honoured that the boys wanted me to head the Swarm this upcoming season, it’s a new challenge, but one I’m excited to take on. I’m thinking a combination of John Tortotella and Mike Babcock is exactly what the Swarm needs to get it over the line this year.”

The Botany Swarm management shares their enthusiasm about Canaday’s appointment, highlighting the significant impact they expect him to have on the team’s growth and success.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Matt Canaday as our new head coach for the upcoming NZIHL season”, says Swarm captain, Andy Hay. “His transition from between the pipes to behind the bench brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to our team. With his passion for the game and unique insight from his goaltending background, we’re confident that under his leadership, we’ll continue to evolve and elevate our game to the next level.”

The 2024 season officially starts for the Botany Swarm on 25 May, when they host Dunedin’s Phoenix Thunder at Botany Paradice.