A wall of noise and the toughest ice hockey team in New Zealand are waiting for Canterbury Red Devils in Queenstown, Southern Stampede coach Stephen Reid says.
Stampede take on the Red Devils in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League Final on Saturday night at the Queenstown Ice Arena.
The single match will decide who lifts the Birgel Cup and takes the 2012 championship title.
At 27 and the youngest coach in the league, Reid hopes Stampede’s physicality and the home fans will propel his team to victory.
“It’s winner takes all now,” he says.
“Canterbury have got a strong import base and play a real European-style hockey, not really physical, more based on finesse, quite flashy sort of hockey. It’s all about putting points on the board whereas we traditionally play more of a Canadian style, which is a lot more physical.
“There’s some flash but we’re all about keeping the opposition out and putting the puck in the net, rather than just scoring more.
“We’ll need to keep our heads too though. We can’t give away too many penalties because Christchurch will capitalise on the power play. It’s a fine line.”
Stampede won eight games on the run to top the table and bring the final to Queenstown for the first time. Last year Stampede lost to Botany Swarm in the final in Auckland, after winning their last six matches.
“We’re hoping to go one better, absolutely.
“The guys are exceptionally excited about bringing the finals home to Queenstown. The support will be a factor.
Queenstown has the best and loudest crowd and consistently sells out.”
Former Ice Blacks and Stampede goalkeeper Reid has been coach for two seasons.
“I love it. The team culture is amazing and that’s what’s seen us through this season. There’s a really strong metal resilience, belief and everyone is good mates.”
NZIHL Final 2012 is at Queenstown Ice Arena, Queenstown Gardens, on Saturday September 8. Puck drops 7pm.
Winning season in full
Jun 16 Stampede 6-2 Botany Swarm (Auckland)
Jun 17 Stampede 2-4 Swarm
Jun 23 Stampede 3-6 West Auckland Admirals (Queenstown)
Jun 24 Stampede 9-5 Admirals
Jun 29 Stampede 2-4 Dunedin Thunder (Queenstown)
Jun 30 Stampede 3-6 Thunder
Jul 13 Stampede 6-5 Canterbury Red Devils (Queenstown)
Jul 14 Stampede 3-5 Red Devils
Jul 28 Stampede 6-3 Thunder (Dunedin)
Jul 29 Stampede 7-2 Thunder
Aug 10 Stampede 9-3 Swarm (Queenstown)
Aug 11 Stampede 3-2 Swarm
Aug 18 Stampede 5-3 Admirals (Auckland)
Aug 19 Stampede 6-4 Admirals
Aug 25 Stampede 6-5 Red Devils (Christchurch)
Aug 26 Stampede 6-2 Red Devils
Team Roster 2012
Aston Brookes goalkeeper (New Zealand) Matt Swirtz goalkeeper (United States) Joel Cleroux defender (Canada) Quinn Drake defender (NZ) Mitchell Frear defender (NZ) Bert Haines defender (CAN) Michael Sommer defender (CAN) Callum Burns forward (NZ) Nic Fabbri forward (US) Lachlan Frear forward (NZ) Simon Glass (c) forward (NZ) Connor Harrison forward (NZ) Michael Herman forward (CAN) Brian Horwitz forward (US) Max Macharg forward (NZ) Matthew Schneider forward (CAN) Brett Speirs forward (NZ) Michael Weber forward (US) Stefan Wright forward (CAN, returned home injured) Tommy Zizan forward (CAN)