You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Two teams on very different trajectories will battle for regional supremacy at the Dunedin Ice Stadium over the next two nights.
The Queenstown-based Stampede is a team building nicely, while the Dunedin Thunder is a team rebuilding after some bad luck with injuries and the departure of two imports.
The Stampede will go into the encounter as a warm favourite having won both games in Queenstown earlier in the season.
The five-time champion has set the benchmark this season with seven wins from eight games. It leads the competition with 21 points.
The Thunder has lost its past four games and is quickly falling out of contention. It is in fourth place on 10 points and in desperate territory.
Stampede coach Cam Frear expects both games will be tough, despite the side's positions in the competition standings.
"For us, it is such a short season you can't really take any game for granted," he said.
"No matter what opponent you have you have to be peaking at the right end of the season.
"So we don't really worry about who we are playing and instead concentrate on internal goals of what we want to achieve each week."
The Auckland Admirals upset the Stampede to win the New Zealand Ice Hockey League last year. But this season the Botany Swarm has emerged as the Stampede's main rival.
The Swarm inflicted the Stampede's only loss this season.
It hosts the bottom-of-the-table Canterbury Red Devils this weekend.