Hungry Stampede sniff victory


Don’t expect Queenstown’s Stampede to skate into new territory for tonight’s crucial ice hockey playoff game.

Coach Adam Blanchette says they’ll be sticking to their usual game plan against the Canterbury Red Devils in the New Zealand league final game at Queenstown Ice Arena.

“What we have been doing all year has worked for us. It is finding that extra push, that edge we have played with all year … that is what we are going to try to duplicate again.

“Our biggest strength is being a big team and a big family. Everyone buys into it and we get the end result.”

The SkyCity-sponsored team are one win away from retaining the Birgel Cup.

A win over the Devils in Christchurch last weekend means a win tonight would secure the title. But if the Devils snatch victory there’s a sudden-death final tomorrow.

Blanchette doesn’t have a pre-game pep-talk planned but says the focus will be on the whole team.

“Credit often goes to goal-scorers but the third line is as important to the end result.”

Blanchette also wants the team to enjoy it, be chuffed they’ve got so far and play like the clappers.

“Championships are not easy to come by. Win or lose - take a step back and appreciate what you have done.”

This is the first championship title bid with captain Matt Schneider at the helm.

He promises a hard, physical match against Canterbury, who he describes as a dangerous bunch due to their goal-scoring abilities.

The Stampede aren’t counting their chickens just yet. But Schneider reckons playing at home will be a boost.

“There is going to be some excitement and we are going to feed off that.”

Schneider says it would be special to win – for the team and the fans.

Stampede v Canterbury Red Devils, today, 7pm, Queenstown Ice Arena. Seated tickets sold out. Standing tickets $30. Saturday, if required