Queenstown ice hockey youngsters win bronze

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Queenstown’s ice hockey players starred as the Junior Ice Blacks won bronze in the under 20s World Championships.

Southern Stampede players Aston Brookes, Mitchell Frear, Connor Harrison and Callum Burns all made their mark on the IIHF 2013 Under 20 World Championships Division 3, held in Bulgaria last week.

Aston Brookes, 19, was voted goalkeeper of the tournament – saving 30 shots to record his first international shut-out as the team beat Mexico 1-0.

Captain Mitchell Frear, 19, scored the only goal of the match in the first period. Connor Harrison also contributed with two goals as New Zealand demolished Turkey 6-2.

The victories were enough to see the youngsters return to Queenstown from Sofia sporting bronze medals, despite a 4-1 defeat to favourites China and an unexpected 6-0 defeat to hosts Bulgaria – in front of a 1500-strong home crowd.

Brookes says: “After the first game we knew we could definitely compete and that helped with confidence.

“The Bulgaria game was disappointing but we’re happy to come home with a medal. I’m delighted with goalie of the tournament.”

The team was coached by Stampede coach Stephen Reid, with player Mike Sommer assistant coach and Charlie Reid manager.

Sommer says:“One of the big things we noticed is that the boys worked so hard. They just didn’t stop working for the two weeks they were there.

“Whether it was on ice, off ice, they worked their butts off.”