Expect Queenstown-based SkyCity Stampede — who start their ice hockey season with home games against West Auckland Admirals this weekend — to benefit from having six local-based Ice Blacks at world champs last month.

Assistant captains Stefan Amston and Callum Burns, Colin McIntosh, Dylan Devlin, Connor Harrison and Joel Hasselman suited up for the Ice Blacks, who won silver at the Division 2 Group B worlds in Bulgaria.

‘‘I think you can see they’re already in kind of mid-season form, which is awesome,’’ says Stampede coach Cam Frear, who was also the Ice Blacks’ co-coach.

‘‘A lot of them had their best tournaments at worlds, which is great for New Zealand but then also great for the Stampede.’’

Frear says Stampede, who’ve won the past three Birgel Cup finals (in 2019, ’22 and ’23), are a good mix of youth and experience.

Most of last year’s roster are back in yellow — exceptions are CJ Kemp, who’s moved to Australia, and last season’s two imports.

Those imports have been replaced by two Canadians — forward Nolan Ross, 29, from Fort Frances, Ontario, who’s played Division 1 in France, and defenceman Jeff McCullum, 19, from Moncton, New Brunswick, who’s played Alberta, Maritime junior and Ontario league hockey.

‘Welcome aboard’: Stampede coach Cam Frear, centre, with new imports Jett McCullum, left, and Nolan Ross

Stampede have also onboarded long-time Ice Blacks forward Jordan Challis, 32, who’s relocated from the West Auckland Admirals.

They’ll also benefit from the continued development of promising youngsters like Jack Robbie and brothers Axel Ruski-Jones, who’s been playing in Florida, and Ollie, who’s back soon from prep school in Canada.

Frear says they’ll continue with their physical, high-tempo style of play — ‘‘we kind of play more of, like, run and gun than other teams’’.

He’s expecting a tough first-up challenge from West Admirals — puck drop at Queenstown Ice Arena 7pm tomorrow and 6.30pm Saturday — but thinks the league’s other four teams will also be quite strong.

‘‘It feels like it’s going to be perhaps a bit more competitive this year.’’

Supporting the Wild

Queenstown’s womens ice hockey team, the Wakatipu Wild, is holding a Flash Tattoo fundraiser at Camp St’s Otautahi Tattoo.

There’ll be at least six pages of tattoos to choose from, ranging in price from $50 to $250 (cash only), with all proceeds going to help the Wild meet their expenses this season.

There’ll also be a fundraising sausage sizzle running outside, with Wild players on hand to demonstrate stick-handling skills as well.

Operating on a first-in, first-served basis, the tattoo fundraiser runs from 10am till 5pm.

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