As the Flight of the Concords once said, “It’s business. It’s business time! I know what you’re trying to say. You’re trying to say it’s time for business.”
Yes, things have hit the business end of the NZIHL season and there were some huge moves made over the weekend in terms of playoff positioning. There was also some big moves made in the goal-scoring department with the Skycity Stampede absolutely destroying the Red Devils in Queenstown putting up 26 goals.
Included in the frenzy was captain Matt Schneider who scored his 200th NZIHL point over the weekend, enjoying 7-point games in both his side’s 13-7 victory on Friday night and the 13-4 win the following night. 14 points in two games…that is terrifying for anyone not wearing the blue and gold. Mike McRae also hit the 200 point mark during the round.
Another special moment happened during that Saturday game, when a fan threw their wig on the ice following Schneider’s hat-trick. Yes, a freaking wig… Commentators Dave Dubnick and Casey Lucas-Quaid found the funny side of it all amongst the madness.
With the two wins down south, the Stampede have now jumped to the top of the NZIHL standings with 27 points, passing the idle West Auckland Admirals (also on 27 points) due to their stronger goal differential. The Thunder took both wins in a pivotal series at The Hive against the Botany Swarm to jump into sole possession of the third and final playoff spot.
After the latest weekend, this is how the NZIHL standings look:
New Zealand Ice Hockey League
These final two rounds are going to be very interesting…
The Botany Swarm find themselves in a must-win situation against cross-town rivals the West Auckland Admirals if they have a hope of returning to third position, meanwhile the Thunder will be looking for a chance to gain home-ice advantage in the penultimate second/third playoff match that will decide the second Birgel Cup finalist by upsetting the Stampede in their final games of the 2018 regular season.
Watch the game recap videos below to catch up on all the NZIHL action from Round 8.
JULY 20: Canterbury Red Devils v Skycity Stampede
JULY 21: Dunedin Thunder v Botany Swarm
JULY 21: Canterbury Red Devils v Skycity Stampede
JULY 22: Dunedin Thunder v Botany Swarm
Main photo: James Allan