Crunch time for Stampede


Two Stampede wins in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League this weekend will secure a Queenstown finals playoff.

They take on Canterbury Red Devils in Christchurch, the only team to defeat the SkyCity-sponsored team on the ice this year.

Coach Adam Blanchette says it’s their biggest weekend of the season. 

“If we take all six points there is no team that can catch us. Physically and mentally the boys are getting ready for it.”

Canterbury snatched a win from Stampede during their last encounter and Blanchette reckons it will make the game more personal.

“We approach the season looking at the big picture of the finals. The sooner we get it locked up the sooner we can focus on that.”

Captain Matt Schneider, who was out due to injury, is hoping to be back on the ice this weekend.

With only three weekends left, the team are keeping their eyes on the prize.

Blanchette would put money on a Stampede-Devils final.

“I think it is looking that way at the moment. Not taking any credit away from Christchurch [but] they have been relatively inconsistent this year.”

Stampede won both matches in Dunedin last weekend against the Thunder. They were fast and feisty games, with Jade Portwood picking up a 10-minute penalty for taunting in the second match.

Blanchette says he 100 per cent stands by Portwood’s tackle.

“The guy made a pretty dirty hit on one of our players. If you’re going to mess with one guy on our team, then you are going to have to answer to the whole team.”