Back for more: SkyCity Stampede's Connor Harrison battles with a Phoenix Thunder player the last time the sides met earlier this month. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY


As the New Zealand Ice Hockey League approaches the end of the regular season, Queenstown’s ice hockey team remains unassailable at the top of the standings.

But while SkyCity Stampede’s already locked into the grand final with six regular season
games to play, manager Niel Frear says the boys will be wary of Dunedin’s Phoenix Thunder when they take them on in Dunners tonight and tomorrow night.

Despite giving their southern rival a drubbing in two games in the resort on July 9 and 10,
Stampede won’t be taking them lightly, he says.

With the semis approaching, the Dunedinites will be playing for a home semi-final after slipping to fourth in the standings after last weekend’s results.

They’ll also be keen to prove their mettle against the league’s leaders after suffering a 7-1
thrashing in the first game and being held scoreless, 6-0, in the second.

‘‘They did well defensively, they just didn’t convert their opportunities,’’ Frear says.

Meanwhile, Stampede’s line-up is well rested and looking forward to getting back on the ice after the three-week break.

Its key scorers will particularly relish the extra space of the Dunedin rink, which has Olympic dimensions compared to the North American-style Queenstown Ice Arena, he says.

‘‘It’s more space and more time for our players.’’