Stampede’s Schneider sent to hospital as Canterbury defend TKRT Trophy

(Photo: Suzanne Teesdale)
(Photo: Suzanne Teesdale)

A weekend series ended on a bit of a sour note as the Canterbury Red Devils successfully defended the Toa Kauhunga Riri Tio Trophy. A close battle with the Southern Stampede on Saturday preceded a rough and almost old time hockey feel on Sunday night.

The first matchup saw solid offence coming from Brett Speirs, Evan Zych and Vladimir Kutny. Hard shots that sailed to the back of the net early on allowed goaltender Justin Findlay to secure a comfortable win and promote the winning momentum into Sunday night’s tangle.

Unfortunately the story of the weekend wasn’t about defending the TKRT trophy, the winning ways of the red and black or the relentlessness of the Stampede. No, in fact the chatter afterwards signaled down onto something we’re all pretty familiar with in hockey: fisticuffs.

Towards the end of the second period, tempers were flaring as a tangle and scrum jumped in front of the net. We’ve seen it a million times. Whistle gets called, players start chirping, punches get thrown. Usually, referees are there in time to break it up before things start to boil over. Didn’t happen this time. Matthew Schneider of the Stampede seemed to get a pop in the mouth from a punch by what seems to be a Hayden Argyle fist. Schneider unfortunately has his back to the camera and all we get to see is the whiplash of his head slinging back and then he drops to the ice. Flat on his stomach, arms outstretched.

Not moving.

(Photo: Suzanne Teesdale)
(Photo: Suzanne Teesdale)

I’m used to the North American style of hockey and I’m very familiar with the “fight for no reason” style of the LNAH. From what I saw on the replay of the stream was nothing more than a hockey play gone wrong. Argyle gave Schneider a pop to antagonize him and when Schneider fell to the ice, he fell chin first. I’m pretty positive that Argyle didn’t intend to hurt him, at least not that extent and I can put money on him feeling pretty bad about it afterwards. These plays happen all the time over here and unfortunately some of the end up like the case of Schneider. The fall to the ice can sometimes cause a lot more damage than the fist to the face.

Argyle received a game misconduct (can’t blame them) but the official call was a “check to the head”. Hmmm. I would’ve called it roughing myself but I guess that’s why I’m not in black and white stripes. I realize that Hayden Argyle has the reputation of being the most penalized player in the league with the rap sheet to prove it. I also know that Matthew Schneider is one of stand outs on the Southern Stampede squad. Being it this early in the season, I chalk this up to nothing other than a hockey play gone terribly wrong.

Nobody likes to see a player get hurt. Schneider was taken to hospital and underwent medical observations for a concussion. The Stampede did tweet out today and Schneids is shaken up but okay and will be back on the ice next week.

When the dust settled on Sunday night, the Canterbury Red Devils managed to come away with another 4-2 win in front of a capacity crowd at their hometown Alpine Ice Arena. If there’s one tale to come out of the weekend’s series, it’s that hockey players don’t forget. Expect a bounty on Hayden Argyle’s head for the rest of the season.

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NZIHL Season Opener preview: Southern Stampede take on defending champs, Canterbury Red Devils

The Southern Stampede out of Queenstown, New Zealand will have their hands full when they mark the beginning of the 10th anniversary New Zealand Ice Hockey League season with a weekend series. They’ll clash with the defending champions, the Canterbury Red Devils, who will be looking to complete a three-peat this year as Birgel Cup champs. However, the road to the final won’t be easy as the NZIHL is easily icing its strongest competition yet.

Haines celebrates after a Stampede goal. (Photo: Tim Clayton)
Haines celebrates after a Stampede goal. (Photo: Tim Clayton)

Taking the reins this season for the Stampede is Finnish lad, Heikki Grohn. The head coach plays a fairly European style of play and will be looking to keep his players on the ice and out of the box. As a woeful 2013 season ended for the Stampede, changes were meant to be made. As veteran Simon Glass announced his retirement over the offseason, Canadian  Bert Haines was given the title of captain. A leader on and off the ice, Haines is an important figure in the Stampede locker room and will no doubt blossom into his captaincy.

A strong import acquisition hailing from Tennessee, Ryan Strayer joins the Stampede after coming off two seasons spent playing in Turkey and Estonia. The defensive American had a strong collegiate career with Franklin Pierce University.

Former Red Devils coach Anatoli Khorozov. (Photo: www.reddevils.co.nz)
Former Red Devils coach Anatoli Khorozov. (Photo: http://www.reddevils.co.nz)

The Red Devils on the other hand have their own differences coming into play. Defending champion head coach Anatoli Khorozov headed to Kazakhstan with new opportunities. That gave assistant coach and Queenstown native, Stacey Rout to take over as bench boss. He has been around New Zealand hockey for over 20 years, representing teams not only locally but internationally with the New Zealand Ice Blacks. No doubt Rout knows exactly what kind of game the Red Devils need to play.

The meat of the Red Devils squad have returned, eager to have another chance at glory. The defensive might be where they struggle. NZIHL Defenceman of the Year, Terry Watt, has returned back to North America for a monumental opportunity, leaving the blue line wide open for an import. The Devils signed two as a replacement, Tamas Lancses from Hungary and Evan Zych from Canada. Zych will be coming straight out of the Southern Professional Hockey League with the Mississippi Surge.

jfHPFdSMThe NZIHL will celebrate the opening of their 10th anniversary season down in Christchurch at the Alpine Ice Arena. The blue and gold of the Southern Stampede will be herding into the Canterbury Red Devils house for a two game weekend series. Puck drop for Saturday’s game is 4:45pm local time and on Sunday, 4:30 pm local time.

One on One with Justin Findlay, the Canterbury Red Devils and the NZIHL

jfHPFdSMIn just over a week’s time, the New Zealand Ice Hockey League will be celebrating and kicking off it’s 10th season. As always, March Hockey will have complete coverage of this monumental occasion as best as I possibly can from here in Eastern Canada.

The defending champs, the Canterbury Red Devils have a bold new look with new jerseys to fend off the competition. (You’ll have to tune into the game to catch them. They’re gorgeous.) I caught up with friend of the blog, goaltender Justin Findlay on what lays ahead for the boys in red.

March Hockey: It’s early but what do you think the Red Devils will have to do to repeat as champions yet again? How are the imports looked at to help the team?

Justin Findlay: As a team we will have to come together both defensively and offensively for the entire 60 minutes. We are known for being able to score in bunches, but we also need to have a strong focus on defensive play. Our imports are looked to as leaders on and off the ice and we take a lot from having them here for the short season. Imports have always been an important feature of the NZIHL; helping local players develop, as well as being able to have the opportunity to play and practice alongside professional players. Some of the imports we have had/have in the NZIHL have been drafted into leagues as high as the NHL and have played with/against players we idolize.

971646_10151901929437345_1204126200_nMH: What kind of system does your new coach have in place? Is it difficult to transition from different coaches year after year?

JF: Coach Rout has been around NZ ice-hockey playing and coaching for almost 20 years; he has been a valuable piece of the Red Devils team since 2012 and his transition to head coach has gone as smooth as anyone could imagine. We all respect him through his time as player and coach and we all believe that he is the right man for the job.

MH: For yourself, how do you see your play for the upcoming season?

JF: All I want is an opportunity to help the boys win some games this season. Last season was not the greatest personally, but I am still proud to be a part of the defending NZIHL champs.

(Photo credit: nzihl.com)
(Photo credit: nzihl.com)

MH: How have you prepared through the off-season?

JF: The NZIHL season ended last August and I started training in September doing 2 months of cardio based training with another Red Devils member Josh Greenwood.  I then transitioned to doing weights and strength work and have been in the gym 6 times a week since Christmas as well as training on the ice 2 times per week. With the lack of actual ice time, we try to do workouts that simulate trainings/games and that will benefit us the most when we actually get on the ice.

MH: Should the rest of the league be ready to take on the new and improved Red Devils?

JF: I believe we have the most talent in the league at any position. We have a group of core guys that have been with the team for 6-8 years now and with the added imports we will always be a threat to any team. With that being said, I look forward to a competitive season this year!

The Canterbury Red Devils are in action with the first game of the NZIHL season, June 7th when the Southern Stampede invade the Alpine Ice arena in Christchurch.

Southern Stampede vs Dunedin Thunder Weekend Preview

After splitting last weekend’s series and being upset in a shocking thriller by the West Auckland Admirals, the Southern Stampede will be looking for redemption in the form of the Dunedin Thunder.

(Photo credit: www.dunedinthunder.co.nz)
(Photo credit: http://www.dunedinthunder.co.nz)

Goaltender Kane Eastbrook backstopped the Stampede to a 6-0 shutout on the final game of the set last weekend after being trampled by the Admirals in the first game. Combined with that confidence, the Stampede are eager to cut down a notch on the Thunder. The Stamps currently sit in 4th position in the standings but only 3 points behind the tied for first Dunedin Thunder. British Columbia native, Matt Schneider picked up 4 goals in the win and will look to add to his stats in this weekend’s foray as he currently sits second in league points leaders.

On the Dunedin Thunder side, they also split their last weekend series two weeks ago against the Botany Swarm. Connor Harrison will be looking to add to his goal total as he sits second in league leaders for goals. The Dunedin Thunder will be pumped and looking to retaliate from their 8-1 loss to Botany. They will be flying right out of the gate. The key for the Thunder this weekend will be to take less penalties and stay out of the box. This is critical as it cost them much of their last game.

Both the Southern Stampede and Dunedin Thunder are tight in the standings which will make for great hockey. You know what that means. Find your way to Queenstown Ice Arena and get ready for some hard hitting and fast paced hockey. Puck drops for the first game at 7pm local time.

Admirals Stun Stampede; Notch First Win Of The Season

It was all business down at the ParadIce Avondale for the West Auckland Admirals and boy did they mean it.

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(Photo credit: Jo McCarthy)

On wear your old jersey night, Chris Belanger opened up the scoring 4 minutes into the first period but the Admirals were far from done. Nick Henderson and Robert Chamberlain added a power play goal each to take them into the second period with a 3-0 lead.

Goaltender Anders Jespersen was stunning in net as the Admirals capitalized on their lead. Henderson and Chamberlain (another PP goal for Chamberlain) added their seconds of the game along with George Scott to put the Admirals out front by an astonishing 6 goal lead. The Stampede were trying to make a game of it though as they cut the lead down to 4 by the end of the second period.

The third period started out even as both teams fought for possession of the puck. Jespersen was brilliant in net during the third period stopping all Stampede shots. The Stampede though became depleted with tens minutes ago and seemed a bit lifeless. Although trying to spur the team with a few fights, it proved to be nothing of significance. The Admirals pulled off their first win of the season!

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(Photo credit: Jo McCarthy)

The West Auckland Admirals will try their hand at repeating this remarkable performance tomorrow as they play game 2 of their home and home set with the Southern Stampede. Will the Stamps be able to round-up some strength and mount a comeback to split the series?? Only one way to find out! Get down to the ParadIce Avondale for hard-hitting NZIHL action!

Jersday: NZIHL’s Southern Stampede

Alright, this week I’m a little bias because I’ve been following a lot of the action in the NZIHL. Although the Stamps didn’t play this week, I felt the need to honour them with their logo and jersey.

1017081_669753176374429_1597393920_nFirst off, I am a huge fan of blue. And in particular this version of blue. Blue might be used an awful lot in hockey threads but this one is bright enough to catch your attention and not end up dull. The contrasting yellow makes it even easier on the eyes. Yellow in general, I don’t like as a team colour but the Stampede make it work. (Hello Sweden, I know you proudly make it work too.)

I don’t know if it’s just being used to North American hockey (besides the LNAH) but I’m glad there’s not a lot of advertising all over this. Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the important of advertising and why it’s needed. But when I see some Russian teams starting to look like a walking billboard in Times Square, it’s a little much. STAMPEDE

The logo itself is spot on. Hell, it gives the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders a run for its money. Could even replace it in my opinion. There are some very talented people down in New Zealand and the rest of the world needs to start taking notice.

Southern Stampede vs. West Auckland Admirals Preview

In the only series being played this weekend in the New Zealand Ice Hockey League,  the Southern Stampede travel down to Avondale to take on the West Auckland Admirals.

1075574_10151972421292345_1949605134_oThe Admirals are coming off of a 2 game loss (including a confrontation with the TKRT Tropthy) to the Canterbury Red Devils on their last weekend set in Christchurch. They will hope to be ready to play against the opposing Stamps. Nick Henderson will be looking to add to his team leading goals as he enters this weekend’s showdown.

img_teamThe Southern Stampede however have not played since June 29th. On that date they fell to the Botany Swarm by a score of 10-6 in front of a hometown crowd. Will the time off prepare them for their clash with the Admirals or will it have turned into a disadvantage? Only time will tell. Matt Schneider who sits second in the league with goals scored and 4th in the league in points will try to add to his streak to sit on top. Mike McRae will also look to add to his point total to move up a notch with the league leaders.

The Stampede and Admirals both sit at the bottom of the standings in 4th and 5th place respectively. With that being said, don’t count out the Stampede. They’re very much still in the running as spots 1 through 3 are in a tight race. With two wins this weekend, the Stampede could very well see themselves tied for 3rd place.

Get down to the Paradice Avondale this weekend for some sure to be hard-hitting and talented hockey. Puck drops at 5pm local time.

The Teams Of The New Zealand Ice Hockey League

I’ve been very intrigued lately by the game of hockey being played in non traditional hockey markets. I’m sure you’ve noticed that by now. I love giving these teams and leagues more exposure on this side of the pond because lord knows their hard work deserves it. With that, let’s take a look at the 5 teams in the NZIHL.

Botany_Swarm_logo1. Botany Swarm – Auckland, New Zealand

The Botany Swarm were one of the first inaugaral teams in the NZIHL. First named the South Auckland Swarm, they made the switch to Botany to better reflect their origins. The Swarm are 4 time NZIHL champions and currently sit tied for second in this year’s standings.

ADMIRALS2. West Auckland Admirals – Auckland, New Zealand

Another team that was apart of the inguaral beginnings of the NZIHL, the West Auckland Admirals are also, you guessed it, based out of Auckland. The team has improved leaps and bounds over the years despite winning zero championships. They currently sit last place.

RED_DEVILS3. Canterbury Red Devils – Christchurch, New Zealand

The Red Devils are currently your NZIHL reigning champions hoping to make a repeat this year. Based out of Christchurch, they have 2 championships under their belt and are one of the stronger teams in the league. I’ve personally taking a liking to the Red Devils so be on the look out for game recaps. They currently sit tied for second.

Dunedin_Thunder_logo4. Dunedin Thunder – Dunedin, New Zealand

Found in 2008 the Dunedin Thunder are currently the first place holders in this year’s season. After struggling like most expansion teams do, the Thunder have bolted their way through the ranks and are stronger as ever. I have a feeling they will give the championship a good run this season. They currently are in the midst of a 4 game win streak.

STAMPEDE5. Southern Stampede – Queenstown, New Zealand

The Stampede are 2 time NZIHL champs and are a force to be reckoned with. A physical team, they bring a new style to the New Zealand game. Every year they also hold an exhibition game with the New Zeland Ice Blacks, the country’s national team. They currently sit tied for second.

The games in NZ get as tight as you can get making for great hockey. This league thoroughly excites me and I am glad to be vocal about the league in North America and my side of the globe.