Team’s nervous wait



SkyCity Stampede’s waiting on tenterhooks to see if they’ll be able to host a home final in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League.

After the Queenstown team’s games against Botany Swarm, scheduled for last weekend, were canned due to Alert Level 4, the NZ Ice Hockey Federation — as per the rulebook — awarded each team a win.

Due to lockdown, the federation also pushed semi-finals and grand finals out several weeks to increase the likelihood the games can be played, with fans present, and with out further disruption.

At the moment, the semis, between Botany Swarm and Auckland Admirals, are set down for the weekend of September 24-26 in Auckland and the final, between the Stampede and one of the Auckland sides, in Queenstown the following weekend.

Stampede manager Niel Frear says provided Auckland is at Level 2 by the end of September, the semi-final can be played.

‘‘But I’m not sure if Level 2 [will] allow you to have inter-regional travel, and then there’s the flights to actually get them here.

‘‘We’ve got some time — the federation has bought us some time by pushing it out — but it just totally depends on Auckland’s recovery.

‘‘It’s really gutting, and it’s really hard for them [Auckland].

‘‘There are a lot of hurdles for us to overcome and, for us, we’ll just get through lockdown and see what happens next.’’

Frear says while there may be some wiggle room for the final to be pushed back even further, that’ll be a call for the federation to make closer to the time.

Even if the final could go ahead under Alert Level 2, Frear says that would mean icing a sell-out crowd because public tickets can only happen under Alert Level 1.

In that scenario, there is an option for a limited crowd, like last year, of 100 in the stands — limited mostly to family and sponsors.