Stampeding towards national title
Queenstown’s Skycity Stampede are ready to defend their national title before a sold-out home crowd on Friday night.
Hundreds of seated tickets for the grand finale of hockey action against the Canterbury Red Devils were sold out in ten minutes, organisers said.
The first game of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League final series was played in Christchurch at the weekend, with a 6-2 win for the Stampede.
Stampede coordinator Ross Burns said the team was happy with the result and would use the same techniques in the next game.
The team kept the pressure on, with all three lines pushing through during the game in Christchurch.
‘‘There was no weak line at any point of the game. Got team effort all over...We wore them down.’’
He said the team’s confidence grew when they scored a short handed goal in the third period.
The game was physical, but not the most heated-up game of the season.
‘‘A lot of boys took hand shots, throwing their bodies on the line.’’
will heal by Friday, he said, when Stampede will fight to become champions for the fourth time.
Burns said the same players who faced the Red Devils in Christchurch would be tackling them again.
Southern Stampede goes into the match with the home game advantage, with the Queenstown Ice Arena being packed out by supporters.
‘‘Our crowd is the most vocal in the country,’’ Burns said.
The arena would be able to fit 500 people, including players, workers and security.
Burns said the arena’s capacity was restricting, but they could work with the given space.
‘‘We would love to put more [people] in there.’’
He was very pleased with this season overall, and overwhelmed with the support.
‘‘It’s not only the guys on the ice but off the ice who put together the package.’’
If the Red Devils were to win on Friday, the deciding match would be held the next day at Queenstown Arena.
Last year a decider was needed, with Stampede taking out the match 4-3.
The second final game on Friday is on at 7pm, with doors open at 6pm.
Skysity Stampede won the first final game against Canterbury Red Devils, with a 6-2 scoreline.