|Posted on June 16, 2012 at 5:55 AM|
The 2012 Southern Stampede arrived in Auckland to start their 2012 NZIHL season. With an array of young New Zealand players, buoyed by group of predominantly Canadian imports, the Stampede backed their chances to take first night honours, despite not bringing a full strength team to Auckland.
Supported by a group of around 150 spectators, the Swarm were looking to build on their win last Sunday over the Canterbury Devils. However the Swarms chances suffered a severe blow when major Aleksandr Polozov play-maker collided with a Stampede player mid ice, resulting in his knee taking the full impact and sending him spinning to the ice in pain. The Estonian import was unable to take any further part in the game.
Both teams hit the drop of the puck with intensity, but it was the Stampede who took first advantage of a powerplay when Michael Sommer fired a pass from the back to allow Brett Speirs to deflect the puck into the goal and put the Stampede ahead 1 - 0. However the scoreboard was evened up eight minutes later when Ian Wannamaker took the puck forward and passed to KC Ball who deftly flicked the puck over the pads of goalie Ashton Brookes.. With just seconds remaining on the clock Michael Sommer made use of another powerplay and managed to sink a rebound to allow the Stampede to go into the break 2-1.
The second period provided 20 minutes of frustrating play by both teams. Passes failed to connect or the puck bobbled over sticks, and the penalty box filled to overflowing more than once. However the Stampeded fought all the way and were certainly not intimidated by the Swarm’s record. Invariably it was a period of chances gone begging and both teams headed to their changing rooms with the score remaining 2-1.
The first five minutes of the third period provided much more fluid hockey and open play. The Stampede went 3 – 1 up when Brett Speirs jumped on a turnover in front of the Swarm goal and slotted the puck over an isolated Zak Nothling. Another Defensive error four minutes by the Swarm gave Brian Horwitz the golden opportunity to move the score further ahead 4 – 1. Despite some huge defensive checks by the Swarm, the Stampede put the game beyond question when a pass from Conner Harrison found Michael Weber who hit the back of the net. With five minutes to run Max Macharg put another nail in the Swarm coffin with a nice wrist shot to the top right corner. The Swarm were able to claw back some respectability with a goal to Lyle Idoine from a Powerplay. It was produced from screening the gaolie and a simple shot on the net, but with four minutes to run it , it was all too late.
Southern Stampede Coach Stephen Reid was thrilled with the result. “ We came here to play well, and were conscious of Swarm record, especially playing under the four championship banners. Our guys played really well” he said. The small number of vocal Southern supporters certainly agreed with his sentiments.
Swarm Coach Phil Lyle was more philosophical. “It was a frustrating game for us. We seemed quite flat, whereas the Stampede played really well.”
The Botany Swarm have the opportunity to redeem themselves when the two teams play again tomorrow night.