South rise again

The Skate of Origin was played on Saturday afternoon at Alpine Ice in Christchurch with the best non imports of the NZIHL going head to head.  For the first time ever the Bauer South Stars won the Glass Family Shield, beating the Easton North Stars 5-3.  Andrew Hewitt with more.

 


More than just an All-Star game, the Skate of Origin is an event that also doubles as a way for Ice Black selectors to take another look at those vying for a berth in the New Zealand national team.

With players representing the island in which they first played hockey, there were a few crossover players that would suit up for the opposite island that they play their club hockey on.  Most notable of these included Aston Brookes, Brett Spiers and Ian Wannamaker.

The South Island team would take the favourites tag into the game as their NZIHL teams placed 1, 2 and 3 in the final league standings.  This however, would be test to see how important the imports are to each team.

Earlier in the day, a skills competition was held with Perth Thunder’s Andrew Cox taking out the Fastest Skater award.  Winning the Hardest Shot was Nick Henderson of the West Auckland Admirals with a blistering shot clocked at 146 kph.  The shot was so hard that it reportedly split the puck in half.

Once underway the game took more the shape of an All-Star game rather than a selection event with an early goal to each side.  Adam Soffer netted for the South Stars while Jeremy Chai responded with a quick reply.

The North Stars then took the lead after a brilliant spinning back pass from Cox who continues to impress both New Zealand and Australian audiences.

Levelling it at 2, Red Devils star Chris Eaden jumped on a loose puck and took advantage of some loose defence, scoring his teams second for the game.

The defensive struggles continued for both sides with the North Stars scoring off a rebound and South Star Ian Wannamaker slotted home a shot after latching onto a Remy Sandoy giveaway in his own zone.

With 6 minutes remaining in the second period, Luke Pickering of the Dunedin Thunder broke the deadlock, handing a 4-3 lead to the South Stars.

Starting off a long run of penalties that would last until the last moments of the game, Blake Jackson was handed a 10 minute misconduct just before the end of the period.  This came at the same time that Admirals team mate Gareth McLeish went down with an accidental stick to the face, an injury he would return from in the 3rd period.

With the game on the line and time quickly running out, the North Stars pulled their goalie in a desperate effort to draw level.  It would not pay off however as the South Stars finished with an empty netter, securing a historical first win for the South Island.

The Bauer South Stars take home the Glass Shield for the first time and although the Ice Blacks team is yet to be announced, one can be certain that the final roster will include many men from the south.

by Andrew Hewitt

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