The NZIHL season came down to the final weekend to decide the playoff fate of four out of the five teams – I would consider that a success for the new post-season format.
While the Dunedin Thunder sat and watched the live streams on the NZIHL YouTube channel, the West Auckland Admirals headed to Canterbury needing to leave town with more points than the Skycity Stampede, who were up north invading the Hive in Botany. The Swarm needed six points to leapfrog the Thunder into that third spot to get into the one-off battle against the second place team.
The Admirals ended up sweeping the weekend against the Red Devils despite a minor scare late in the first game when Canterbury staged a late comeback, leaving their hopes and dreams of home ice in the hands of their cross-town brothers.
Unfortunately for the West Auckland lads, the Stampede dominated the Swarm leaving Auckland outscoring the home team 15-0. Stampede captain and giant human, Matt Schneider ended up winning the scoring race with 44 points, including 20 goals, beating his teammate Mike McRae by a single point.
After ten rounds of hockey, this is what the final season standings look like.
Along with finishing at the top of the league once again, the Stampede also hold the best power play and penalty kill in the NZIHL.
So then, the Dunedin Thunder will now hit the road to face the West Auckland Admirals for a special edition of Friday Night Puck at Paradice Avondale. Puck drop is set for 5pm, so get off work earlier and head along for some playoff hockey!
The winner will face the Skycity Stampede, who will be waiting and resting back home in preparation for the Birgel Cup Finals.
Here at Puck Yeah we’re trying something new this week in preparation for next season: replacing individual game recap videos with a series recap that covers both games from each matchup. It will likely include interviews next year, and perhaps a few other additions, but for now this is simply a quick test.
Let us know what you think! We’re keen to hear your feedback as we look to grow and improve our services. Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Admirals v Red Devils @ Alpine Ice, Christchurch
Stampede v Swarm @ Paradice Botany Downs, Auckland
Main photo: Josh Fraser