The Dunedin Thunder will host the 2013 NZIHL Grand Final with two victories in the final week of the season, the Thunder would defeat the West Auckland Admirals 16-1 on Saturday and close out the proceedings on Sunday with a 10-2 win to finish atop the standings and claim their first Minor Premier Trophy.
The back to back wins ensure that the Thunder will take home ice advantage against the Canterbury Red Devils, when the two teams lock horns in the Grand Final on August 24.
With the Red Devils securing two wins against the Southern Stampede, the race for home ice rink advantage came down to the wire. Both the Thunder and Red Devils would finish the season on 32 points from 16 games played, however, a superior head to head record would give the Thunder the edge and send the NZIHL grand final to Dunedin to be held at the Dunedin Ice Stadium.
Thunder’s terrific display across the weekend was given more significance with Paris Heyd celebrating his 100th NZIHL appearance, Heyd first debuted in the NZIHL in 2005 and joined the Thunder in 2009 following spells at the Stampede and Red Devils. Heyd would score three goals across the 16-1 slaughter on Saturday, would pick up another two in Sundays return fixture to mark a special weekend and another fantastic season for the 22 year old.
Canterbury would see a terrific defensive display honoured with back to back wins against the Stampede, Michael Coleman would be the star of the weekend for the Red Devils, allowing only three goals across the weekends play and stopping an astonishing 43 shots in Sundays 3-1 victory.
The final standings in the NZIHL would see the Thunder first (32 points), Red Devils in second (32 points), Botany Swarm third (30 points), Stampede fourth (23 points) and the Admirals would finish at the foot of the table on three points.
Canterbury will be heading into the grand final looking for back to back titles, while the Dunedin Thunder are hoping to break the deadlock and pick up their first Birgel Cup.
The NZIHL should see a large crowd gather to the grand final at Dunedin Ice Stadium, in what will be a terrific showcase for New Zealand hockey as the top two teams compete for the ultimate prize. While many hockey fans across New Zealand will make the pilgrimage to Dunedin, many hockey fans like myself, will be watching via online stream.
The grand final will be streamed live online through Slapshot Productions, who cover the NZIHL every season showcasing top quality TV that is the next best thing from being there.
In the lead up to the NZIHL grand final, On the Fly Hockey will be running a competition for a chance for one lucky reader to win a brand new Dunedin Thunder or Canterbury Red Devils scarf.
So stay tuned!