Puck yeah, it’s a Queenstown final

Stampede captain: Matt Schneider

Stampede could again lift the Birgel Cup in Queenstown after securing a home advantage in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League final series.

They take on West Auckland Admirals in the big smoke on August 19 before the grand final at the Queenstown Ice Arena. That will be played over two nights – if needed – the following weekend.

The SkyCity-sponsored team thrashed Canterbury Red Devils last weekend, winning 8-2 last Saturday and 11-3 on Sunday.

Coach Adam Blanchette says they were mentally challenging games, but the side needed to nab one win to confirm the home ice advantage for the final.

With that locked in on Saturday night, Blanchette says Sunday’s performance was the icing on the cake.

“To see the boys use that as a good little tune-up to the finals was really good.

“It is really important … even if there were no points to play for, they were still playing for each other.”

It was an impressive night for captain Matt Schneider who picked up a double hat-trick.

Canadian import Colin McIntosh, new to the team this year, also scored a hat-trick during Saturday’s game.

Blanchette says the team’s performance was impressive and they’re fired up at the thought of retaining the championship title, and the cup, on home turf.

“The outcome proves we are in our stride right now.

“We are peaking at the right time and the boys are hungry and playing for each other.

“Nothing can get in the way of that ultimate goal if we want it.

“You take a second and you appreciate the accomplishments – but at the same time you don’t want to get complacent.”

Catch Stampede take on West Auckland Admirals in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League final series. Game one, Auckland, August 19. Games two and game three (if needed), Queenstown Ice Arena, August 25, 26. Tickets go on sale today