Queenstown ice hockey team Southern Stampede plan a late push for the finals after demolishing table toppers Dunedin Thunder.
The Stampede won crucial back-to-back games against their rivals at the weekend.
They won 6-3 and 6-2 at Thunder’s home rink.
Captain Simon Glass (right) says the victories have galvanised the team after a difficult season. They remain second from bottom but can now challenge for a final berth.
Glass says: “I knew we had the ability to do it, we were just under-achieving really, not quite performing.
“We’ve just had a lot of distractions this season.
[Ice Black’s captain] Bert Haines and I missed that first round, Matt Schneider broke his wrist at training and Stefan Wright was hit by a car and broke his leg,” Glass says.
“Lots of injures, and also suspensions, so this is the first time we’ve been able to show our full potential with a full roster. The last few weeks of training we’ve really started working on some good systems and everything has come together.”
Saturday’s game saw the Stampede run away with it in the third period after a tight two periods.
In that last period the Stampede scored four unanswered goals – one each from Glass, Schneider, and Brett Spiers plus a shot into an open goal from Brian Horwitz.
Schneider scored another double on Sunday as the Stampede exacted revenge for their two defeats to Thunder during Queenstown’s Winter Festival.
Glass says: “We’ve been working a lot on our defensive systems but then also just our speed and physicality. We dominated them there as well.
“In the offensive zone we were quite fast and physical and that converted into scoring opportunities and goals.”
Last year, the Stampede won its six final pool games to reach the final where they lost to Auckland’s Botany Swarm, who lifted the Birgel Cup.
“We’re in a similar spot to last year. We’ll take every game as it comes and give it our best crack,” Glass says.
Stampede v Botany Swarm (double header)
Where: Queenstown Ice Arena
When: Friday, August 10, Saturday, August 11. 7pm
Tickets: Ticket Direct, though Stampede’s website, on the door
Seated: $20 (adults), $15 (children)
Standing: $15 (adults), $10 (children)