SkyCity Stampede ice hockey team have booked themselves a home final, by the skin of their teeth.
The Stampede beat the Canterbury Red Devils at the Queenstown Ice Arena last Friday night, 6-0, in their first of two must-win games, before the visitors made the home side work hard for the ‘W’ last Saturday.
The scores were tied 2-all at the end of the first period and 3-all at the end of the second, before Stampede put the hammer down, finishing off the visitors in the third period, with a final score of 9-6.
Import Brendan Walkom netted eight of the goals over the weekend, while Colin McIntosh had seven assists and slotted the final goal of the regular season.
Coach Cam Frear’s stoked they got the job done, but quips ‘‘the boys definitely have no regard for my heart at the moment’’.
‘‘We made it a little bit harder than it needed to be [on Saturday], but Canterbury’s pretty dangerous if you give them opportunities.
‘‘I just think we had lapses in concentration and let the foot off the gas pedal a little bit, and every time we did that, they took full advantage of it.’’
Stampede will now host the winner of this weekend’s semi-finals, Botany Swarm,
Frear says he’s predicting an epic finish to the season in Queenstown, which will be the best of three games, if required, this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
‘‘I don’t think either team wants to [play] three games in three days, but if that’s what’s needed to separate the two teams, it makes for a pretty cool finals’ series,’’ he says.
A Wild ride
While the Wakatipu Wild narrowly missed out on being back-to-back New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League champions in Dunedin last Sunday night, the game was everything you’d want a gold-medal final to be — including a touch of controversy.
Fans were on the edge of their seats as the game was tied 3-all with less than a minute left in regular time by Auckland.
Wild should have stitched it up with seconds to go after forward Livia Twohig had a clear lane to the empty net before she was hauled down.
Coach Colin McIntosh says, according to the rule book, that’s an automatic goal — though that wasn’t the refs’ interpretation, despite a long chat on the ice with both captains.
‘‘That’s what happens when you have refs who don’t know the rule book reffing a championship game, unfortunately.’’
Tied 3-all at the end of regular time, the gold-medal match went into overtime, which only went for five minutes.
McIntosh says the rule book specifies it should have been 20.
‘‘If it was 20 minutes, I think we would have taken it in overtime.
‘‘It’s just the fact that the decision-makers just don’t quite know the rule book, which is frustrating going into a do-or-die, season-defining game.
‘‘There are talking points for next year,” he says, stressing he’s just disappointed with the different interpretations.
So close: Wakatipu Wild’s Inge Kemp in action during the New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League gold-medal final in Dunedin on Sunday. PICTURE: JAMES ALLAN PHOTOGRAPHY
Still tied at the end of the extra five minutes, the game came down to a shootout, something McIntosh has long maintained don’t belong in championship games.
And in the end, it was Auckland who came out on top, slotting four of their five attempts.
McIntosh, though, remains immensely proud of his side, having not lost a regular season game all year, and only losing one game, in a shootout, in their final home match.
‘‘No-one can take that away from them.’’
New Zealand Women’s Ice Hockey League was approached for comment regarding the alleged different rules in play last Sunday night, but haven’t responded.