Stampede’s home final quest

Bid for home final: Stampede's Hayden Argyle and Dunedin Thunder's Benedict Roth in action last week PICTURE: BLAIR PATTINSON

Stampede are hoping to lock in a Queenstown final and defend their title in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League.

The SkyCity-sponsored team secured their spot after two home wins against Dunedin Thunder last weekend, 4-1 and 6-2.

Up next are West Auckland Admirals, whom they’ll be facing in the final at the end of next month.

Coach Adam Blanchette says the focus is on making sure they can retain the Birgel Cup on home turf.

“We want that home ice final and that’s the goal. We’re playing for first place this weekend.”

He says they’ve set the bar over the past few seasons and are intent on retaining the championship for the third consecutive year.

“We have a core of returning players who’ve figured out how to approach these games. I’ll stress to the boys it doesn’t matter who you are playing, you approach it like any other week. You show up to every game ready to win.

“The boys will be a bit more up for this one given what’s at stake.”

Blanchette says experience on the ice will bolster their chances.

They will also be sticking to simple tactics.

“It’s definitely going to be a good, tight hockey game and probably the best hockey that has been played in Queenstown this year against the first- and second-placed teams.”

Blanchette says his players kept their composure during last weekend’s games.

Doing much of the damage for Stampede was newbie import Colin McIntosh, who finished with a hat-trick.

See SkyCity Stampede play West Auckland Admirals, tomorrow and Saturday, Queenstown Ice Arena. Puck drop, 7pm. Tickets from $25