Stampede fired up for top season

The Southern Stampede ice hockey team is out to redeem itself this season after receiving a proverbial ''slap in the face'' last year.

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 them.

''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 and 22.

New line-up
Bert Haines (captain)
Matt Schneider (assist captain)
Aston Brookes (goalie)
Matt Swirtz (goalie)
Mike McRae Harrison Macharg
Callum Burns
Ryan Strayer
Quinn Drake
Braden Lee
Michael O'Keefe
Cameron White
Lachlan Frear
Bryn Murray
Brian Dunford
Ben Harford
Adam Blanchette
Cameron Frear
Mason Brookes
Liam Kinney
Monty Brown
Bert Haines


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