With his father having grown up in Russia, ice hockey is in Max Plotnitski’s blood.
However, due to Nelson’s climate, Max has had to hone his skills at the roller rink to chase his NHL dream.
“There’s no ice here or I’d be playing ice hockey,” he says.
Max had just turned five when his father first had him in skates. He almost immediately ended up on his bum.
“I remember my first time, I fell over straight away. I didn’t like it and wanted to stop.”
About a year later, Max was playing his first season for the Nelson Whalers.
“We just had a bunch of kids who couldn’t skate properly, we lost all of our games. I thought I wasn’t going to improve.”
Despite the inauspicious start to his career, Max persisted and is now one of the most promising young players in the region.
“I just kept practicing and started watching NHL, which helped me learn.”
Max follows the Washington Capitals and his idol, Moscowborn Alexander Ovechkin.
“My dad calls me ‘Ove’ because he’s my favourite player.”
He also began playing with the seniors to further sharpen his skills.
The dedication paid dividends as his side began to turnaround its losing record with Max at the forefront of the resurgence.
Spending hours shooting at a target in his garage, Max says his stick-handling skills have become his strength on the rink and he has now surpassed his father’s ability at the same age.
“He says he wasn’t as good as I am now.”
The ten-year-old Nayland Primary student also plays rugby and basketball, but his focus remains on inline.
Max is set to trial for the New Zealand U-12s in 2021.
“That is my goal now, I just want to make that team.”