The puck dropped on the opening round of the NZIHL over the weekend and if you’re a fan of high-scoring games then you would have been a very happy hockey fan tucking into your Sunday dinner.
But come Monday night this is how the standings are currently shaped after just four games:
New Zealand Ice Hockey League
Of course, there isn’t much you can take from that when the Skycity Stampede are yet to touch the ice, but it’s looking good early on for one team in particular.
But how did they get there?
The 2018 season kicked off in Auckland with the Botany Swarm hosting the Canterbury Red Devils with both teams looking for a good start to what will hopefully be a bounce-back season.
The Swarm ended the first period with a 2-0 lead which the Red Devils managed to claw back midway through the second thanks to two goals from Coventry Blaze import Ross Venus. However, by the end of the period, the Swarm had a 6-3 lead after a parade to the penalty box featuring members of both teams. Tack on one more powerplay goal by the Swarm’s Josh Hay in the 3rd and the local boys had kicked off their campaign with a 7-3 victory.
Meanwhile, in Dunedin, it was like both the Dunedin Thunder and West Auckland Admirals were in the audience for The Oprah Winfrey show and she was yelling, “You get a goal, and you get a goal, and you get a goal!”
The home team jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and by the end of the first period held a 4-2 lead. The Westies fought back in the second to go into the sheds with a 5-4 lead, meanwhile the third was filled with lots of penalties and scoring. Thunder captain Paris Heyd would score on a penalty shot after Admirals goalie Rick Parry was penalised for an intentional delay of game when he chucked his mask off, but ultimately the Admirals scoring power proved too much taking out the game 8-6.
It seemed Oprah made her way up North for Sunday’s game between the Swarm and Red Devils. However, the Canterbury missed out on the tickets, with Botany pouring on the goals putting eight past Devils starting goalie Jonas Barakauskas before he was replaced by sixteen-year-old Finley Forbes. By the end of the weekend, the Swarm had scored 16 goals and were on top of league standings.
The highlight game of the round was the Sunday game in Dunedin with both teams swapping leads before the Thunder held a 3-2 late into the 3rd. But with under four minutes remaining, import Craig Peacock scored his second of the game to tie things up.
A treat awaited for all the fans in attendance and watching on the live stream as it was time for some 3-on-3 hockey with both teams featuring speed and skill to burn.
It didn’t take long before Thunder skipper Paris Heyd made a power move to the net and was robbed by his old mate from the Ice Blacks, Rick Parry. Heyd didn’t miss on his second chance however as he broke in on a breakaway and beat Parry for the game-winner and his third of the night – ending the opening round with a league-leading 8 points.
Main photo: Mike Froger