Ice hockey: New captain Schneider aims to lead team by example

The Stampede, the New Zealand Ice Hockey League champion, has named Matt Schneider its new captain.

The Canadian, who has played ice hockey for the club for five seasons, is stepping into the role following the retirement of Bert Haines.

The decision was announced earlier this week and Schneider is stoked with the decision.

He is not taking the role lightly and thinks he has big shoes to fill, following on from Simon Glass and Haines.

"It's a good franchise and I hold those guys in high esteem. It's a real honour.''

Haines, who captained the side for two seasons, did not want to comment on his departure but said he would continue to play when he could.

Coach Adam Blanchette used pre-season matches as a test run.

"Matt has been a senior player for a few years. For me it was an easy decision. He leads by example, representing everything we as a team want to play for,'' he said.

His style was to put players before points and he was a great role model for the younger boys.

Home-grown players Cameron Frear and Callum Burns have been appointed assistant captains.

"They know the culture and we take everything on and off the ice into consideration when making these decisions,'' Blanchette said.

Schneider did not go out looking for the captaincy.

He may have the "C'' on his jersey but will be looking to his assistant captains to create a strong leadership group.

"The whole team is pretty close. Everyone is accountable for themselves and it is a group effort leading the charge. I was just playing my game and Blanchette decided I was the best fit for it.

"My kind of style is to lead by example. I am out there trying to give my best effort, play the right way, listen to coach and show that I am doing it properly so the guys will follow.''

He captained his university team in Canada and said that experience would help him on the ice.

His goal for the season is to take home another championship.

Anything less would be a disappointment.

Blanchette agreed and is confident the team is capable of it.

"We will continue to build on our good habits, take out excuses and get back to the Stampede hockey that we like to play.''

Pre-season matches will focus on developing as a team, rather than on the scoreboard.

Stampede took on Dunedin Thunder at the weekend in two pre-season matches, winning both 9-1 and 8-5.

Its first New Zealand Ice Hockey League game is on June 4.

- Louise Scott 

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