Injury is forcing Queenstown’s inspirational Stampede captain Matt Schneider off the ice.
The Canadian import broke a bone in his foot, possibly during the first game of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League season, at the start of June.
He played through the pain, thinking it was a bone bruise. A second X-ray proved otherwise - showing a clean break and ensuring he is out now for three or four weeks.
Schneider: “I was really struggling to move. It wasn’t agonising or anything, but I’ve been in a little bit of pain.
“The good thing about it happening so long ago is that the healing process has already started, so there should be a speedy recovery.”
He was disappointed to sit on the bench when the SkyCity-sponsored team took on the Canterbury Red Devils at home last weekend.
They claimed victory on Friday, winning 6-0, bolstered by former Ice Blacks captain Simon Glass, who “suited up” to help the team out.
Saturday was tougher, when they suffered the first defeat of the season, losing 3-2 after overtime and a penalty shootout.
Schneider isn’t concerned about the loss, saying the boys played well.
“At the end of the day we are in a good spot, standings wise.
“It was just one of those games where it didn’t really click.
“We weren’t super sharp but were able to have a pretty good third period and get a point out of it anyway. Overall it was a successful weekend.”
He admits it leaves a sour taste but stresses they never set out to complete the 2016 season undefeated.
“Sometimes it is good to face a little adversity. It is easy to get complacent and we said after the game it can be a wake-up call.
“We have been rolling along pretty good for a while. Canterbury is a good team and it was great to play some really good hockey.”
Between periods he talked to coach Adam Blanchette and gave his “two cents” about player performance.
“The leadership within the group is great so they will just continue going. I don’t think I’ll be missed too much,” he laughs.
Stampede have a bye this weekend and face Dunedin Thunder away the following week.
The focus is to maintain their high performance.
Schneider: “There is no need to panic or try to change things up too much. The plan remains.”