Puck Yeah writer Joe Durie usually does these NZIHL round preview articles every week, but right now he’s having the time of his life sightseeing in Italy alongside his incredibly supportive partner Kirsty. So while he’s away, allow me to preview the next round of the season.
Swarm v Red Devils @ Alpine Ice, Christchurch
The Botany Swarm are in need of breaking a five-game losing streak that began on June 9th when they went down to the Dunedin Thunder. Since then they’ve also lost to the West Auckland Admirals and Skycity Stampede, in other words, those are tough matchups for any team and can easily kill a hot streak.
Traveling down to Christchurch to take on the last-place Canterbury Red Devils might be an opportune time to try turn things around by getting a couple much-needed wins under the belt – and more importantly, six points in the standings.
But many sports teams have come into similar situations before and left with their tail between their legs because they took their opposition too lightly – Wannamaker and his men will have worked hard this week to not make that mistake and focus on their own game, but the Khorozov crew will be just as hungry to prove themselves.
The two teams last met back in round 1 with two high scoring games at Paradice Botany Downs – the home side winning both, 7-3 and 9-2.
According to the fantastic Sports Club Stats website, Canterbury have a 1.6% chance of making the playoffs this year. A loss in either game this weekend could spell an end for their post-season aspirations entirely for 2018. In contrast, Botany still have a 65.6% chance of playoff hockey.
Thunder v Admirals @ Paradice Avondale
Because of the extended fourth round followed by a bye week, it feels like forever since we’ve seen the Dunedin Thunder play, and I have definitely missed them.
In their last game, way back on June 16, they came from behind to beat the Stampede on their home ice and claim the Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio challenge trophy for the first time in the team’s history. They should be well rested and chomping at the bit for another challenge, the top of the table West Auckland Admirals.
With a combination of offensive production in this matchup that includes the Thunder’s Paris Heyd, Brandon Egli and Ben Gavoille, plus the Admirals’ Mike Verschuren, Craig Peacock and Frazer Ellis, we might see a fair share of goals this weekend.
The two sides also last met in the first round where the Admirals traveled to Dunedin, splitting the series with the Thunder – winning 8-6 in game one before losing 4-3 in overtime the next day, handing the Admirals their only loss this season so far.
Wins this round will push West Auckland one step closer to securing the top seed and home-ice advantage for the Birgel Cup Finals. Currently they have a 99.9% chance of making the playoffs, so that is about as comfortable as you can get I guess, meanwhile the Thunder have a 33.2% chance.
NZIHL Round 6 Game Schedule:
Botany Swarm v Canterbury Red Devils – Alpine Ice, Christchurch
July 7th & 8th at 4:40pm
Dunedin Thunder v West Auckland Admirals – Paradice Avondale
July 7th & 8th at 4:40pm
Main photo: Sari Robins-Laughton