New Zealand’s top ice hockey teams go to war twice on Queenstown’s indoor ice this weekend to decide who gets home advantage for next week’s national league final.
The Queenstown-stacked Southern Stampede and the Canterbury Red Devils are laden with Ice Black players on a high after their historic series win over Australia at the Winter Games last weekend.
The victory in Dunedin was New Zealand’s first over the trans-Tasman rivals, beating Australia 5-4 in the second of two games and 2-0 in the subsequent penalty shootout – having recovered from an 8-2 defeat in the opening Test.
The Stampede have five of the winning Ice Blacks and the Red Devils seven, leading Queenstown veteran Simon Glass to say this weekend’s games “will be the best Queenstowners have ever seen”.
“There was good banter going round in the changing room [in Dunedin] about this upcoming weekend. The skill level won’t be as high, obviously, as it filters out through the teams, but the intensity’s still going to be there.”
The Stampede sit second in the rankings so they must win both games to secure a home final.
“That’s a pretty big ask but we’re confident we can give it a go,” Glass says.
“It’s just a matter of going out and working as hard as we can – we did this last weekend and we’ll do it again this weekend.”
The puck drops at 7.15pm tomorrow and Saturday at the Queenstown Fun Centre.