The Queenstown-dominated Southern Stampede ice hockey team will play in a new trans-Tasman tournament in Australia next year.
The team qualified for the inaugural Trans-Tasman Champions League by making the national league final played last Saturday. The Stampede ended as runners-up after losing 5-3 against Auckland’s Botany Swarm. Botany Swarm also qualified for the inaugural Trans-Tasman competition.
The tournament, featuring Australia’s top two league teams, will be played in New Zealand the year after.
“It’ll be great for us,” Stampede captain Simon Glass says.
“It’s also a fantastic drawcard for us to use to get better sponsorship and more import players – we’re allowed up to five but only had three this year.”
Meanwhile, Glass isn’t too disheartened about Stampede’s loss in the Auckland final – the Stampede finished with the wooden spoon last year.
His team’s younger players had come on in leaps and bounds, Glass says.
Glass was named Stampede’s most valuable player of the year.
Seven Stampede players return to Auckland this Saturday for the third annual Skate of Origin game, which pits North Island-born players against those raised in the South Island.
Braden Lee, Connor Harrison, Bert Haines, Mitchell Frear, Quinn Drake and Aston Brookes will suit up for the South Island and Waikato-raised Brett Speirs will represent the North Island.
The teams will contest the Glass Family Shield, named in honour of Glass’ family – Simon’s grandfather Ben was a NZ ice hockey pioneer, his dad Graeme played for the Ice Blacks and was an administrator and Simon’s a current Ice Black and former captain.
Simon, however, is unavailable for the game.