Stampede one win from glory

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One up against West Auckland Admirals in the best-of-three finals, Queenstown-based Sky-City Stampede are keen to reclaim the Birgel Cup on home ice tomorrow.

After three New Zealand Ice Hockey League titles in a row, Stampede lost last year’s finals to the Admirals.

However this time they’ve started well, winning 8-4 in Auckland last Friday.

“We were a little bit worried about travelling that day and being able to come out of the blocks fast, but we managed to get up four-nil in the first period,” first-season coach Cam Frear says.

He admits these finals are following the perfect script: “We’re looking to get a championship back where we believe it belongs, and the Admirals are trying to hold onto it.”

Frear says the secret is to treat tomorrow’s game like any other, “and just go through all our systems and our procedures”.

After several tight round robin games, including an overtime loss, he agrees the Admirals won’t be easy opponents.

“They’ll come out hard.

“All teams come to Queenstown and play better than they ever do – the crowd gets us excited but it also gets the away teams excited.”

However he’s confident the Stampede will finish the job tomorrow rather than have to play a decider on Saturday.

“The Admirals are a good team, and if we give them a sniff, once the momentum’s gone it’s pretty hard to get it back.”

Asked to compare this year’s team with last year’s, Frear says “we’ve got a lot closer as a team, and a lot of the young Kiwi guys have taken it on themselves to not just sit back and let the imports do it”.

Tomorrow’s puck drop at the Queenstown Ice Arena is at 7pm.

scoop@scene.co.nz