Queenstown’s Stampede ice hockey team has earned a rest after a gutsy season-opening smashing of the Canterbury Red Devils.
The team doesn’t have another NZ Ice Hockey League game until June 17 – when they take on Dunedin Thunder away.
Despite two commanding wins, 6-1 and 7-4, at Queenstown Ice Arena last Friday and Saturday nights, coach Adam Blanchette says they’re confident, not cocky.
“We still have a lot to work on – a bit of strategy.”
Up until now the players have been getting to know each other, Blanchette says – “now it is time to fine-tune it”.
“We are not complacent, we are still only in the first games of the season.”
Friday’s game saw both teams come to blows at the end – with fisticuffs on the ice.
Blanchette says it wasn’t too serious but admits his team did let Canterbury get under their skin.
He had a word with the squad.
New imports took to the ice for the SkyCity-sponsored team, showing ballsy talent and skill.
Finn Tomi Martikainen is described as a spark plug with impressive speed.
Canadians Colin McIntosh and Jeremy Akeson also showed why they made the roster – hitting the back of the net in both games.
Stalwart Mike McRae was out with a shoulder injury.
Blanchette says there are no other injury concerns.
As a coach he’s pretty happy with the team’s progress and reckons the newbies complement established players.
“We’re feeling really positive. Now we’ve got to keep our eye on the ultimate goal.
“It’s nice coming out with points but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.
“But this was the first game we were really together as a team with the new imports and old faces.
“Once we figure out how to harness everything, and put it together, I think we are going to be a pretty tough team to beat.”
He was impressed by the number of shots on goal and says the players stuck to hard, simple hockey. Blanchette thanks the fans for the noise from the stands, which boosted the home side.
Starting the season at home is an added bonus, he says.