Report by Travis Crickard, Botany Swarm Assistant Coach
Heading to Queenstown for the weekend as a regular tourist usually means the days will be filled with skiing, wine, and other adventure. For the Botany Swarm, it was back to work with a pair of games against the SKYCITY Stampede at the Queenstown Ice Arena.
Game 1 – Friday 29 June
The Swarm took the lead on an Alex Polosov goal only to be taken away by two consecutive Stampede goals by Ryan Strayer and Braden Lee. Joel Rindelaub was on fire in the early stages of the game and made a number of important saves to preserve the game at 2-1.
In the second Jordan Challis opened the frame with a goal for the Swarm to tie the game at 2-2. Only two minutes later, the Stampede regained the lead on a Harrison Macharg goal. Colin McIntosh and Kory Helowka added two more goals to put the Stampede up 5-2 heading into the third.
Appearing rejuvenated, the Swarm put up a better effort in the third but could only manage to trade goals with the Stampede via Alex Polosov and Matthew Schneider. Joel Rindelaub was awarded the Swarm’s hardest worker for making 50 saves on 56 shots. Michael Hopkinson gave Joel nine minutes of relief and went six for six. Daniel Lee replied for the Stampede with 35 stops on 28 shots.
Game 2 – Saturday 30 June
After much discussion amongst the team, the Swarm took the lessons they learned from Friday night and hoped to apply them in Saturday’s game. Much like the previous night the Swarm drew first blood only to have it taken away with a pair of Stampede goals. Jamie Lawrence found the twine for the Swarm on the Power Play while Matthew Schneider potted a pair of his own on the Stampede’s Power Play.
In the second period, Jordan Challis and Patrick Volpe traded markers to keep the Swarm within one heading into the third. Unfortunately, for the Swarm it was all Stampede in the third. The Stampede’s Ryan Strayer and Kory Helowka scored two quick goals which spelled the end of the night for Swarm goaltender Michael Hopkinson. Hokinson would finish the night with 40 saves on 45 shots.
Joel Rindelaub came in relief for the Swarm and stopped all eight shots he faced. Seeking a late surge the Swarm pulled Rindelaub with over five minutes remaining in the game. While there appeared to be a great deal of pressure at the offensive side of the ice, the Swarm could not capitalize. Stefan Helmersson sealed it for the Stampede with an empty net goal to give the Stampede a 6-2 victory. In his second consecutive appearance Daniel Lee made 42 saves on 44 shots.
With back-to-back wins, the Stampede pole-vaulted the Swarm in the NZIHL standings. The Swarm now sit in third place and one point ahead of the Dunedin Thunder. After the game Assistant Captain KC Ball felt that despite the second loss in Queenstown on Saturday there were some positives to take away. “We only took seven minor penalties over two games so I think the discipline was good. I think we had a goal of four or less per game. I thought we showed some depth with guys down the line up stepping up with great hustle and execution. Most of all, we never gave up and believed we could win right to the end. In the past if we were down by two or three going into the third, we didn’t have that belief.” Assistant Captain Jordan Challis felt that the group could be better but needed to use the loss as an opportunity for the Swarm to improve. “We need to be patient and know where our teammates are before we are on the puck. We just need to focus on basics, head up – hard accurate passes to allow us to break out and play offense.”
Swarm’s Three Stars for Round 5 are: 1) Alex Polozov, 2) Jordan Challis, 3) Joel Rindelaub
Continuing their road trip, the Swarm will now head to Christchurch for a two game set against the Canterbury Red Devils. Keep an eye out on the Botany Swarm Facebook page for game updates.