|Posted on July 30, 2016 at 5:55 AM|
Saturday night's game in Queenstown was another nail-biter, with the Swarm and Stampede both putting together great performances and treating the fans in the rink and on livestream to an excellent game of hockey.
Similarly to Friday, both teams roared out of the gate with a lot of energy and plenty of pressure. The Stampede had an early penalty, and the ensuing powerplay saw a flurry of shots from the Swarm, but goaltender Aston Brookes and the Stampede PK unit did some strong work in keeping the puck out.
With just under half of the period played, the Swarm worked a great zone entry and kept control of the puck. An initial rebound slid just out of reach of any of the forwards, but came back to Logan Fraser at the blueline, where he shot it on net, and past Brookes.
The teams were sent back to their dressing rooms with just under 5 minutes remaining in the first period, as an injury to one of the linesmen necessitated both the cleaning of the ice and a pause to locate and dress a backup linesman -- many thanks to the off-duty linesman who substituted in for the injured Andy Mills.
The second period was consequently longer, as the remainder of time from period one was played after the intermission, with no change in the score and a big push from the Stampede which the Swarm were able to weather.
At the whistle after 4.45, the teams changed ends and began the second period proper.
An early penalty for the Swarm saw a dangerous Stampede powerplay take the ice. A superlative commitment to shotblocking and getting in the lanes, plus some huge saves from Hopkinson kept the Stampede powerplay at bay, although both sides' special teams were out there for almost the full two minutes.
Some five-on-five play followed that, until with about 7-8 minutes remaining the Swarm picked up another two minors consecutively. This time they had a couple of brief short-handed chances, and once again the Swarm's PKers did a fine job to keep the score static.
With just about a minute remaining in P2, the Swarm got a powerplay of their own, as Stampede's Bert Haines was sent to the box. The visitors made no mistake converting on this one, as David Lindgren picked up a bouncing puck that had been misfired by Jordan Challis and swatted it up high on Brookes to give the Swarm a 2-0 lead.
The third period was always going to be exciting with the battle for second place in the standings on the line, and with the Swarm holding the lead the Stampede came out fired up and determined to get on the board.
An early powerplay for the Stampede saw them get some more dangerous chances, and Michael Hopkinson had to make a spectacular diving save to deny the home side.
A second penalty to the Swarm was the one which was finally too much for their PK, and the Stampede's Mike McRae got the Stampede on the board and within one to put the score to 2-1 and send the fans in the rink to a fever pitch.
The Swarm responded quickly, as Jared Henderson scored to regain the two-goal lead, off a smart redirect right in front of the net that gave Brookes no chance to save it.
A minute or two later, the Stampede answered right back, as Harrison Marcharg picked up a loose puck in front of the Swarm's crease and fired it five hole on Hopkinson.
Several minor scuffles and a couple of penalties to each side followed, but neither team was able to add a further goal, with both goalies doing a fantastic job in net, and the buzzer eventually sounded with the Swarm ahead 3-2, as they handed the Stampede their first regulation defeat of the season.
This game was streamed, and the archived footage can be viewed on nzihl.tv.