South­ern Stam­pede back-to-back champs

Central Otago Mirror - - CLASSIFIEDS - DASHA KUPRIENKO AND BREN­DON EGAN

The South­ern Stam­pede have de­fended their Birgel Cup cham­pi­onship ti­tle, with ten play­ers now in train­ing for the Skate of Ori­gin game.

Queen­stown’s Stam­pede took out the New Zealand Ice Hockey League fi­nal se­ries against the Can­ter­bury Red Dev­ils, win­ning the sec­ond game 7 - 1.

The team scored four goals within five min­utes, mak­ing the 500-strong crowd cheer louder with each goal.

Stam­pede co­or­di­na­tor Ross Burns said the team did not un­der­es­ti­mate their op­po­nent, which pre­vi­ously won the ti­tle three years straight.

‘‘The score does not re­flect how well they [Can­ter­bury] played,’’ he said.

Queen­stown play­ers had high ex­pec­ta­tions for the game and put team ef­fort into the win.

‘‘Our three solid lines wore them out.

‘‘There was talk in the chang­ing rooms that this year we have a stronger team unit and every­one is con­tribut­ing,’’ Burns said.

Cana­dian cen­tre Jade Port­wood and Amer­i­can for­ward Mike McRae both scored dou­bles in the Stam­pede’s tri­umph.

Af­ter los­ing game one in Christchurch 6-2, the Red Dev­ils made a promis­ing start to game two.

English­man Ciaran Long put them 1-0 in front with a goal 15 min­utes into the first pe­riod.

McRae scored the al­limpor­tant equaliser early into the sec­ond pe­riod and a goal from Braden Lee in the clos­ing stages of the term gave the Stam­pede a crit­i­cal 2-1 ad­van­tage.

They took con­trol of the game mid­way through the fi­nal pe­riod, net­ting five goals within twenty min­utes as the Red Dev­ils be­gan to sense the in­evitable.

Port­wood, the league’s lead­ing goal-scorer, net­ted twice in the fi­nal pe­riod to take his haul for the sea­son to 25 in 17 games.

Ten play­ers and coach Adam Blanchette get a few days rest and are back to train­ing for the Skate of Ori­gin game, which sees a rep­re­sen­ta­tive North Is­land team take on the South Is­land next weekend.

Stam­pede play­ers were well rep­re­sented in the South Is­land team, which lost last year.

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