Queenstown ice hockey team Southern Stampede is out for revenge against arch-rivals Botany Swarm in Auckland this weekend.
The Stampede travel north for a double-header against the 2011 champions on Saturday and Sunday.
Stampede finished second in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League last year, after a six-gaming winning streak set up a final with the Swarm.
Stampede captain Simon Glass: “We lost to them in the final last year so we’ll be looking for a bit of revenge.
“It’s hard to assess how we’ll do because we have a whole bunch of imports and a couple gone from last year.
“They have a lot of guys out of the Ice Blacks but have not got as many imports.
“Then, we have some good players who would have played for the national team but couldn’t go because of commitments.
“So Kiwi-born players, we’re probably equal, but then we’ve got some good imports.”
Those imports include 6ft 6in Canadian Matt Schneider, who was drafted into the NHL by Calgary Flames.
“It’s exciting for us to play with a guy at that level,” Glass says. “It drags our level up, training with them.”
Former Ice Blacks captain Glass and current Ice Blacks captain Bert Haines will both miss the Auckland games – they’re in Hawaii for a wedding.
Glass: “Obviously it’s a shame but I think the team can beat them for sure. I think we’re a really good team this year. We’re going for the title, we want to win.”