Canadian Matt Schneider is the Stampede’s new ice hockey captain.
Now a Queenstown local, he’s a senior player, having played in the squad for five seasons.
Schneider’s stoked with the decision but says he’s got big shoes to fill - e describes previous captains Simon Glass and Bert Haines as the best he’s ever played for.
“It’s a good franchise and I hold those guys in high esteem. It’s a real honour.”
Coach Adam Blanchette used pre-season matches to determine who would step up to lead the squad. The decision was announced at Tuesday night’s practice.
Blanchette: “For me it was an easy decision. He leads by example, representing everything we as a team want to play for.”
His style is to put players before points and he’s a great role model for the younger boys, he adds.
Haines stepped down after two seasons in charge, after the team snared last year’s New Zealand Ice Hockey League title.
Haines is vocal while Schneider is more the silent type.
Blanchette: “It’s nice to have a change. You don’t try to replace a guy like Bert. It works out nicely having a guy who has been around the team but has a different approach to leadership.”
Home-grown players Cameron Frear and Callum Burns have been appointed assistant captains of the SkyCity-sponsored team.
“They know the culture and like everything we take on and off the ice into consideration when making these decisions,” says Blanchette.
Schneider didn’t go out looking for the captaincy.
He may have the ‘C’ on his jersey but will be looking to his assistant captains to create a strong leadership group.
“The whole team is pretty close,” he says.
“Everyone is accountable for themselves and it is a group effort leading the charge.”
Schneider captained his university team in Canada and says that experience will help him on the ice.
His goal for the season is to take home another championship - anything less would be a disappointment.
Blanchette agrees they have the potential.
“It’s my job as coach to get them ready for the games and take excuses out. What the boys do from there is clearly up to them.”
Stampede beat Dunedin Thunder twice last weekend, 9-1 and 8-5, in two pre-season matches.
Its first competition game of the season is against Botany in Auckland on June 4.