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West Auckland Admirals | New Zealand Ice Hockey League

Game Report – Sunday 03 June 2018

After the hard-fought clash on Saturday, it was clear that the defending champions, and class team of the NZIHL for the previous three seasons, would come out strong on the Sunday, and so it proved.

Csaba Kercso-Magos Jr got the start in between the pipes for the Admirals, whilst Ice Black Callum Burns was ruled out after sustaining a shoulder injury on Saturday. Colin McIntosh also made way for the Stampede, giving Kory Helowka the import spot for what would turn out to be an eventful debut!

SkyCity Stampede Head Coach Adam Blanchette had clearly read the riot act, as the boys in gold bolted out of the gate and laid siege on the Admirals net. The game was a much more physical affair than Saturday, as both teams looked for any advantage, pushing the limits on some hard checking.

Despite being outshot 21 – 11, It was again Ryan Ruddle who scored a big goal, taking a Phillips feed during four on four play and sneaking one past Daniel Lee. Just two minutes later Justin Daigle walked the blue line with the puck and sent an exocet missile into the top corner for 2-0.

As the period wore on, the hitting increased and with Taylor Rooney and Ryan Strayer having introduced themselves to each on the ice, they both got the opportunity to continue to discuss dinner plans in the penalty box. During this four on four however, it was the Stampede who made better use of the open ice, as their import line headed by Johnston struck to pull them back within one. Johnston took a neutral zone pass, skated in and evaded a check on the mid boards before cutting in on the red line and going short-side shelf for a backhand to remember.

And then two minutes into the second period, Kory Helowka let his skates do the talking as he tied it all up 2-2. But the 2018 Admirals are made of stern stuff, and with sustained offensive zone pressure, Gareth McLeish did good work to keep the puck in the zone, and then threw his best change-up pitch on goal, with the dangerous floater sinking just at the right moment to settle in the net. Strike 3!

Andy Hart took a boarding penalty and Stampede stalwart Mike McRae again made the Admirals pay as he squared the contest at 3-3. And just when the visitors looked to start gaining ascendancy, some ill-discipline kicked in with Helowka, Cameron Trew and even the usually calm McRae taking penalties, with Trew and McRae each sitting for additional 10’s.

Helowka took another slash to start the final 20 minutes of the weekend, with the game in the balance. Just after the Power Play had ended, Craig Peacock opened up the defence and a juicy rebound fell to Verschuren, who gratefully accepted the open net in front of him. 4-3 Admirals.

It was at this point that perhaps the differences between North American hockey and NZ hockey needed to be clarified, as Helowka took another penalty (boarding) but then had 10 for taunting and finally grabbed an early shower after abusing the officials. Players as skilled and dangerous as Helowka need to be on the ice, and the Admirals took advantage with Shaun Harrison nailing one in the ensuing man advantage, before the Stampede pulled Lee with 2 to go, and Dylan Dickson found himself in the neutral zone with the puck on his stick. The experienced Dickson wasted no time potting the insurance marker, and sewing up all six points for the Admirals.

With the Admirals having the rest next weekend, the Stampede travel to Christchurch to take on a resurgent Devils team. Whilst a great result for the Admirals, it’s still very early and the Stampede are experts at pacing their seasons well. They will undoubtedly rebound, and the return clash in Queenstown between these two teams on 13 and 14 July is already shaping up to be spectacular.

Next game for the Admirals is away to cross-town rivals Swarm at Botany on Saturday 16th June, and then the big Spark Arena matinee game on Friday 22nd June, 3.30pm puck drop, again versus local rivals Botany Swarm. Get your ticket now, it covers both the matinee game, and the USA/Canada class at:

Story: Tim Ratcliffe

Photo: Debbie Barker