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A shocking attack on the Southern Stampede's star player, Matt Schneider, has left the Queenstown ice hockey team fuming.
Canadian import Schneider was knocked out cold during the opening week of the New Zealand Ice Hockey League on Sunday in Christchurch.
Canterbury Red Devils' captain Hayden Argyle Argyle was subsequently sent off.
Schneider was taken to hospital in Christchurch that night.
Stampede captain Bert Haines said Schneider's X-rays had come back clear and ''fortunately'' this weekend the team had a bye.
''So it gives us two weeks to get fit and healthy,'' Haines said.
He said Argyle had broken his stick on Schneider during a check to the Stampede player for trying to get possession of the puck near the Devils' goalie and then punched him.
A check was not unexpected in that circumstance, Haines said, but ''everything after that was unacceptable''.
Schneider was knocked unconscious and lay on the ice not moving for some time.
The incident came with less than 20 seconds on the clock before the end of the second period, with the Devils leading 3-2, having clawed back from an earlier 2-0 deficit.
Haines was disappointed that Stampede player Quinn Drake had received a penalty for assisting medical staff when Schneider was down on the ground out cold.
The Devils went on to win the game 4-2 - the same score as the previous night of the double-header.
Haines credited the younger Stampede players for stepping up when Schneider went off the ice and when Mike McRae and others were handed penalties.
''At the end of the day we were left without four of our top guys.''
After a bye this weekend, the Stampede will host friendly foes the Dunedin Thunder for the first home game of the season at the Stampede's base, the Queenstown Ice Arena, during the Queenstown Winter Festival.