Fight finishes off big Stampede win
Two Stampede players could be facing suspensions after a fight that broke out with only one minute on the clock during the team’s commanding win at the Queenstown Ice Arena on Saturday night.
The two-time New Zealand Ice Hockey League title holder, Queenstown-based Skycity Stampede, were almost halfway through the 2017 season, with only one loss when they met the Botany Swarm for two games during Queenstown Winter Festival.
Stampede conclusively won the Friday night fixture 6-2 but started slowly on Saturday, notching up only one goal in the first period.
However, home crowd support saw the trickle turn into an avalanche of goals for the local team, who were sitting at 8-0 with only a minute left of play when the fight broke out.
Stampede coach Adam Blanchette said Stampede player Connor Harrison made ‘‘a good, clean, hard hit’’ against Andrew Hay.
As Hay lay on the ground his brother and teammate Oliver yanked off his helmet and took to Harrison, leading Stampede players to defend Harrison.
‘‘You either take 20 punches to the head or your team mate comes in to help...I stand by my team,’’ Blanchette said.
After several minutes of dis- cussion referees gave Harrison and Oliver Hay matching penalties for fighting. Stampede player Mitchell Frear was also penalised as third man on - a player entering a fight already underway.
However, while the two Stampede players were forced to leave the rink for the final minute, the Swarm player did not.
Blanchette said he was confused by the decision.
Botany Swarm coach Jeff Boehme declined to comment on the fight and subsequent decisions.
‘‘There was an official on the ice. It’s up to them to make the call and keep the game under control,’’ he said.
Blanchette said it was disappointing the fight detracted from the good work of goalie Aston Brookes whose work rate kept the Swarm scoreless.
He was preparing an appeal against the suspensions.
The game was also notable for the two sets of three siblings on the ice: Oliver, Josh and Andrew Hay, playing for the Botany Swarm, and Cameron, Mitchell and Lachlan Frear, playing for the Stampede.
‘‘You either take 20 punches to the head or your team mate comes in to help.’’