VENUE & DATE: Queenstown Ice Arena, Queenstown New Zealand, Saturday 8th September, 2012 @ 7pm
LAST TIME: 26/08/2012: Stampede 6 def Red Devils 2 at Alpine Ice, Christchurch
WHAT’S WHAT: This is it. The pinnacle of hockey in New Zealand. The Birgel Cup is what every player in the NZIHL dreams about and the day when it is won has arrived. Neither the Red Devils or the Stampede got off to the best of starts this season and by the mid point, this final would have been unimaginable.
The Stampede spent a lot of the season towards the bottom of the standings and after a less than impressive performance at the TTCL, the hopes weren’t high for the 2011 Birgel Cup Finalists. On their return something changed. A spark was lit and although it took a while for the fire to warm up, when it did nothing was going to stop the Stampede and in the last round of the NZIHL snatched first place and rights to host the Final from the Red Devils, timing their run almost perfectly.
The Devils have had a season in similar vein to the Stampede only to have started their run towards the final a little earlier. Just by making the Final, they will now be part of the TTCL where they will, along with the Stampede, pit their talents against the best of the AIHL.
WHO’S HOT: The Red Devils have a number of stars on their roster including Chris Eaden and Valery Konev who have combined for many of their team’s goals. The Eaden/Konev combo saw them placed 1st and 2nd respectively in the overall NZIHL standings. What makes this even better is that Eaden is not an import and proves that the sport in New Zealand is improving massively.
Another big weapon for the Red Devils will be Max Fokin who has returned to the team after an absence. Fokin has only played 8 games for Canterbury this season but has averaged 1 point per game and cannot be left out of the equation.
Brett Spiers for the Stampede will be the main target for the home team and he has been a large part of the reason why the Stampede are in the Final. Spiers has tallied 13 goals and 22 points leading his team in the regular season.
WE THINK: These are two teams that would both be worthy NZIHL Champions. Both have had to make miraculous comebacks and both have timed their run to the Final almost perfectly. The two form teams of the competition will face off in a close and entertaining Final. Stampede won easily at last start but you can’t leave the team from Christchurch out.
Remember you can watch the LiveStream of the even by clicking here
by Andrew Hewitt
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