Browse Tag: Dunedin Thunder

NZIHL Injuries Update – Week 7

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We all know hockey is a rough sport, and the 2014 season’s New Zealand Ice Hockey League injuries are doing a good job of driving that point home so far.

Every South Island team has now lost at least one player to injury. Of those, three players are unfortunately out for the remainder of the season.

Here’s a look at which teams are down players heading into Week 8 of the 2014 NZIHL season:

Southern Stampede

The Stampede have no doubt been bit hardest by the injury bug this year. The Stampede’s season opened with an after-whistle hit on brilliant forward Matt Schneider that left him unconscious. He missed the remainder of that game, which was the second of a double-header against the Canterbury Red Devils. Fortunately for the Stampede, they had a bye the next week and Schneider has told the media that he didn’t sustain concussion symptoms. He didn’t miss any further games.

Next, the Stampede lost star defenseman and AIHL Championship winner Adam Blanchette in their fourth game of the season. Blanchette sustained a suspected concussion and was pulled from the June 22 game against visitors Dunedin Thunder.

Later that week, the Stampede confirmed the worst: not only had Blanchette been concussed,he would be retiring immediately as a precaution. While we all miss seeing Blanchette on the ice, his decision to do what’s best for his health is an admirable one.

The third blow to the Stampede came when they next faced the Botany Swarm up in Auckland: young forward Callum Burns took a friendly fire slapshot to the face which left him with a cut beneath his eye and a broken nose. Burns missed the remainder of that game but returned for the next.

Unfortunately for Burns, when the Stampede took on the Thunder at home in Dunedin, he’d be struck yet again, taken off the ice with a broken wrist. Burns is expected to miss the rest of the season, which is no surprise.

This comes as a particular blow to the already hard-done-by Stampede, as Burns had really stepped up his game this season. He’d already scored 2G and 1A by the time he was injured and was showing visible improvement with each game–and at only 17 years old, against much larger and older competition.

Dunedin Thunder

English-born Matt Enright suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the fifth game of theThunder season during a match against the Red Devils. The forward was the Thunder’s third overall points producer last season. This year he was averaging a goal per game, and though the Thunder are an offensively-stacked team, his loss has still resulted in some necessary line shuffling.

In spite of his broken ankle, Enright has continued to travel with the team and remains very much an active part of the Thunder.

Canterbury Red Devils

While details are sparse and it would be no surprise to anyone if the Devils opted not to disclose how things are looking for now, the Canterbury Red Devils have lost star forward Vladimir Kutny for at least one game.

Kutny was not on the ice against the Botany Swarm for the second of last weekend’s games. Exactly when and how he sustained his shoulder injury wasn’t made clear, but the Devils and their fans are no doubt hoping he’s back in fine form for their upcoming games.

Kutny is a new addition to the Devils line-up this year, hailing from Slovakia and coming to Canterbury on the heels of a career that includes two trips to the World Junior Championships, three years of Canadian play in the QMJHL, and now 14 points in 6 games for the Red Devils.

The Devils presently sit at the top of the NZIHL table, though they seemed to be missing Kutny from the lineup as they struggled last weekend, losing two games to visitors Botany Swarm.

Botany Swarm and West Auckland Admirals

The NZIHL’s two North Island teams have either not lost any players to injury or have not disclosed any. As we head down the home stretch of the 2014 season, let’s hope their luck continues.

All of us here at OTF wish Callum Burns and Matt Enright best of luck for their return to NZIHL play in 2015. They’re important additions to their respective squads and we look forward to seeing them back on the ice. Adam Blanchette meanwhile will make an excellent addition to the Stampede’s coaching staff going forward.

Unless the Devils announce otherwise, we are assuming Vladimir Kutny will be back in the line-up for the Devils as they rematch the Swarm this upcoming weekend.

Southern Stampede Take Thunder to Overtime

stampedeLet’s admit it: the first week of the NZIHL was not a great one for the Southern Stampede, as documented in my earlier post. The injury to star forward Matt Schneider and the double-header losses to the Canterbury Red Devils were not what the team or the fanbase had in mind for a great start to the season.

Fortunately the Stampede were able to prove that’s all in the past with their 4-3 victory over the visiting Dunedin Thunder on Saturday night. Despite how early we are in the NZIHL season, this game had a sense of importance to it. The Stampede had the opportunity to prove they were well and truly over Week 1. A loss here could start to paint the wrong kind of picture; nobody wants to be that team plagued by injuries, suspensions, and frustration so early in the year.

Despite the fact that forward Mike McRae was serving a one-game suspension for fisticuffs and roughing, the Stampede answered the call. Here are a few reasons why this victory was an important one for the Stampede camp:

The Stampede prove they can win without Mike McRae

Mike McRae is an important player for the Southern Stampede. How important, you ask? As of puck drop for yesterday’s game against the Thunder, McRae had scored every single goal on the Stampede’s stats sheet. That’s right. All of them.

McRae is a lot of things for the Stampede: he’s a big presence, a physical forward that creates space and scoring opportunities. Since coming to the Stampede from the Gold Coast Blue Tongues of the AIHL, he’s been a 2+ point per game player, currently hovering at 2.29.

The numbers speak for themselves, but McRae also has assets that don’t translate directly onto the scoreboard. He’s one of those players whose teammates just look more confident when he’s on the ice. He’s got enviable chemistry with his linemates, Matt Schneider in particular. Speaking of…

Matt Schneider not only played, he had a pretty good night

The hit that Schneider suffered against the Red Devils in Week 1 was the biggest scare of my NZIHL watching life. It looked bad. Things may have played out differently if the Stampede hadn’t had a bye in Week 2 of the season. Fortunately Schneider got an extra week to recover, and it shows.

In a league where he’s literally head and shoulders above a good majority of the players, it’s no surprise that Matt Schneider is a dominant player. There were moments when the Thunder were badly outplaying the Stampede in yesterday’s match, but Schneider chased the puck like a bloodhound on the hunt and it showed. He didn’t show any signs of post-injury jitters and ended up with a goal and an assist to his name. Also noteworthy was Schneider’s nearly 30 minutes of ice time.

We were just glad to see him out there.

The Stampede’s new imports are looking good

William Compton and Ryan Strayer, both of the USA, are playing their first NZIHL seasons this year. They both notched a goal in this win, which was a true team effort. Compton in particular has a much more physical game than his size would indicate. He’s a solid, speedy addition to the team. It’s great to see the new imports fitting into the Stampede’s lines well, considering the void left on their roster (and in our hearts) by the departure of Tommy Zizian, who played his last season with the NZIHL last year.

Just in case you were wondering if Bert Haines has still got it

You got your answer last night. The veteran Captain snatched up a loose puck in the defensive zone and drove it home unassisted for the overtime game winner, short-handed no less. That was a beauty of a shot to witness. There are some moments in hockey when you can just tell a goal is coming, and this was one of them. Haines took a split second to line up, rifled it home, and the sold-out crowd absolutely exploded.

Despite this only being the third game of the NZIHL season, this was a win the Stampede needed. There were moments when the momentum of the game seemed to shift entirely into the Thunder’s hands. A win like this will buoy the team when the two clubs square off and do it all again tonight.

Tonight’s rematch of Southern Stampede vs. Dunedin Thunder will be streamed on Stuff.co.nz, puck drop at 7:00PM.