Strong home support as NZ seals series

The Ice Blacks sealed the transtasman challenge series last night in front of a packed house at Queenstown Ice Arena.

It was crowd favourite Liam Stewart who delivered the killer blow in the third period as New Zealand iced a 5-3 win over Australia's Mighty Roos.

It followed the Ice Blacks' thrilling 6-4 game-one win on Thursday and confirmed a second consecutive Winter Games transtasman series win.

The Ice Blacks imposed themselves physically early on but Australia proved a nuisance on defence.

The score was locked up 2-2 as the first period wrapped following a flurry of early scoring at both ends.

The lead would change hands twice in the second period.

Australia's Wehebe Darge netted the puck after some sloppy clean-up work by New Zealand to nudge the Mighty Roos ahead.

But a momentum switch ensued towards the end of the second spell as goals from forwards Matt Schneider and Benjamin Gavoille, both adding to their-first period strikes, turned the game in New Zealand's favour.

Australia desperately tried to get back into the contest. However, Stewart outpaced the Roos defence as his fourth-minute goal in the third period knocked the stuffing out of the visitors.

Tonight's third and final match-up will conclude this year's Winter Games event.

The Kiwis have been bolstered by the debut appearance of Stewart, who previously won a gold medal with Great Britain in the 2017 IIHF World Championship Division I B tournament.

The Skycity Stampede tearaway and son of Rachel Hunter and Rod Stewart has been in the thick of the action.

New Zealand's win in game one was the icing on the cake as Stewart celebrated his 25th birthday on Thursday.

"He was involved in about four of the goals," Ice Blacks' head coach Anatoly Khorozov said.

"Even though he didn't score himself, hitting three posts and the crossbar - he wasn't happy about that."

Khorozov believes the sport is on the rise on these shores but has more work to do to compete with other major codes.

"We're definitely getting there. We're better than where we were five years ago."

The Kiwis had been buoyed by upbeat home support in the resort town, he said.

"There's great supporters and great facilities in this town.

"I'm not sure it would be the same in Auckland or Christchurch."

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