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Easy-beats no more: The Crimson Badgers celebrate wiuth the holy grail of the Sunday night winter social league

By GUY WILLIAMS

Talk about a fairytale ending.

On Sunday night, Queenstown social ice hockey team, the Crimson Badgers, were crowned champions of the winter social league after defeating Rhinos 3-1.

The victory marked the end of the fast-improving team’s three-year journey from outhouse to the penthouse after finishing either ninth or dead-last in the comp’s winter and summer leagues in their first two years together.

Captain Wesley McAllister says they’re ‘‘over the moon’’.

‘‘We’re very excited and happy for each other. It’s so cool to see how far we’ve all come.’’

With a big crowd in the house, both teams played well in a free-flowing game, he says.

‘‘We put on a show, and that’s what you want from a final — you don’t want a blowout.’’

The Badgers knew they needed to score early to put pressure on the Rhinos, who’re known as slow starters but fast finishers.

Enter Dan Ortiz, who put them on the scoreboard in the first period in a team MVP performance.

‘‘That was huge — it’s what we needed,’’ McAllister says.

‘‘They got their rhythm in the second and third periods, and we were basically just holding them off.

‘‘It’s amazing how everyone’s skill level has increased.’’

The team reassembles late next month for the summer league, when the hunters will become the hunted.

‘‘Everyone loves an underdog until you’re on top.

‘‘But we’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing and have fun.’’

guy.williams@scene.co.nz