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West Auckland Admirals | New Zealand Ice Hockey League

Game Report – Saturday 02 June 2018

The West Auckland Admirals made their first appearance at home for the 2018 season, hosting the SkyCity Stampede from Queenstown in a repeat matchup of last season’s Birgel Cup Final. With 16 very recent Ice Blacks scattered amongst the two sides, this was always going to be a marquee date on the 2018 NZIH calendar.

Coming off a first round tussle away to the Dunedin Thunder, in which the Admirals took 4 out of a possible 6 points, the blue team started the quicker of the two as they plundered 17 shots on in the first period, against just 7 from the Stampede. The Southerners were working out a bit of rust, having had the bye in the NZIHL’s first round.

It was the Stampede though who opened the scoring, with Mike McRae doing the damage on the game’s first power-play just 3 minutes in. The Admirals hit back as import forward Craig Peacock continued his goal run from last week, followed by Frazer Ellis putting the home team up 2-1 by periods end.

As both teams settled into their work, each exchanged goals through the second stanza, with the very dangerous Stephen Johnston potting a rocket for the Stampede, whilst Admirals import trio of Craig Peacock, Kevin Phillips and Mike Verschuren all combined to keep the Admirals ahead.

The game was very tight as the teams battled through the final period, and when Phillips took a hooking penalty at the midpoint, the slick Stampede PP unit looked to tie it all up.  But the Admirals work on special teams paid dividends, as Captain Daigle and Daryl Harrop combined to force a turnover, and fed a streaking Ryan Ruddle who broke into the O-zone and put a shot on net which managed to find the smallest of five hole gaps.

Going 4-2 up on the shortie proved too much for the Stampede, and with less than five to go, Frazer Ellis potted his second of the night as the top Admiral line again did the damage.

Ellis and Peacock finished with 3 points apiece, with Vershuren and Daigle claiming a couple of assists each also. Rick Parry was stellar in net, turning away 30 of 32 shots faced, whilst Daniel Lee withstood an Admirals broadside in his Stampede debut, being peppered with 46 shots.

Story: Tim Ratcliffe

Photo: Debbie Barker