It’s billed as the ‘Battle for the Queenstown Cup’, and this weekend 10 teams are joining the fight.
The third edition of the annual ice hockey tournament will play out over three days from this afternoon at the Queenstown Ice Arena.
Organiser Colin McIntosh says about 120 players are coming, including a team each from Auckland and Wellington.
Players from other centres, including Christchurch and Dunedin, are also heading to the resort to bolster local teams.
Having started at 4pm today and running until 1pm on Sunday, the tournament will feature 25 games.
McIntosh says it’s the ‘‘last big hurrah’’ for the season, with the summer league coming to an end and the arena closing for a couple of months.
‘‘It’s a great way to finish off the year of hockey.’’
The bragging rights for hoisting the cup are sure to light the competitive flame, he says.
‘‘The games are high-paced, they’re competitive, but nothing gets out of hand.’’
The tournament started in 2020 with six local teams, with Wakatipu Goldrush taking the honours.
Last year eight teams entered, including one from Auckland, with McIntosh’s own crew, Team Enigma, coming out on top.
This year’s field includes a team drawn from local NZ Women’s Ice Hockey League side Wakatipu Wild, with a ring-in or two, as well as composite teams based on social or Jurassic league sides such as Golden Gnomes, Queenstown Rangers and Altitude Bruisers.
Sprinkled among the line-ups will be some of the resort’s top players, including Matt Schneider, Mike McRae, Connor Harrison and Mitchell Frear.
A ‘Young Guns’ side, made up of local and Dunedin players aged 18 and under, could be a dark horse contender.
The nationwide move to a Covid red light hasn’t stopped the tournament, which is proceeding as a private event.
It’ll be live streamed on YouTube on Saturday and Sunday.