Home final aim

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Captain: Matt Schneider wants a home ice final PITCURE: JAMES ALLAN

Stampede ice hockey team will be keeping a close eye on rivals West Auckland Admirals as they try to scupper the Queenstowners’ chances of a home final.

The SkyCity-sponsored team have a bye this weekend in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League while the Admirals take on Dunedin Thunder at home.

Captain Matt Schneider expects the Aucklanders to win. But he says a Queenstown Ice Arena final is still firmly on the cards.

They just need to win the last two games against the Canterbury Red Devils in the first weekend of August.

The table-topping Stampede are on the back foot after losing 6-3 to Auckland’s Botany Swarm last Sunday.

Despite claiming the first match, 6-1, Schneider wasn’t impressed with their performance.

“Botany is a scrappy team and we knew that going in. We didn’t have our best game on Sunday and they took advantage of some opportunities and buried some goals.”

The loss was only Stampede’s third of the season – from 14 games.

Schneider, who scored a hat-trick in last Saturday’s win, admits they’re under more pressure going into their next games. But he’s confident they can retain the Birgel Cup.

“We’ll be staying status quo. Nothing new will be implemented at this point in the season but we will refine and tighten up after a loose weekend.

“Regroup, go over some stuff and make sure we are firing on all cylinders going into Christchurch. ”

The finals series will be held next month.

louises@scene.co.nz