The Southern Stampede ice hockey team is out to redeem itself
this season after receiving a proverbial ''slap in the face''
New captain Bert Haines described 2013 as ''a season to
forget'', his team finishing fourth in the five-team New
Zealand Ice Hockey League but the players had put that behind
''We've got a new-found purpose and direction and we're
really excited to deliver an exciting product to our loyal
fans in Queenstown that mean so much and support us as well.
''[We're] so excited to get on the ice ... and show them what
we're capable of.
''We felt like we let everyone down last year by our
performance ... last year was a bit of a slap in the face.''
Haines said the 2014 Stampede team featured a good mix of
experience and youth, bolstered by the return of Aston
Brookes, who played last season for the Dunedin Thunder.
Having finished his studies Brookes had returned to the
resort and the Stampede jersey.
''He's a huge one.
''He's a major addition for our confidence and our ability to
go all the way.
''He found work back in Queenstown, so hallelujah.''
Two new faces for the Stampede were Wakatipu High School
pupils Ben Harford and Harrison Macharg.
Haines said the pair possessed ''unbelievable'' talent which
would result in ice time.
''The kids will skate.
''They might not see a lot of ice time ... Harrison, we've
got him practising on the first line with Matt Schneider and
Mike McRae - that's going to be quite an incredible feat if
he can do it.''
Haines, also the New Zealand Ice Blacks captain, said he was
excited about his first season at the helm of the Stampede
following the retirement of captain Simon Glass.
The two had played together for many years and while Glass
left huge shoes to fill, Haines said he'd learned a lot from
his predecessor and was ready to turn the knowledge into
results on the ice.
The Stampede's first game will be against two-time champions
the Red Devils in Christchurch on June 7 and 8, with its
first home fixtures against the Dunedin Thunder on June 21
Bert Haines (captain)
Matt Schneider (assist captain)
Aston Brookes (goalie)
Matt Swirtz (goalie)
Mike McRae Harrison Macharg