Stampede's Colin McIntosh making his mark on the national ice hockey league
Queenstown's Stampede ice hockey team is sitting at the top of the national league and new import player Colin McIntosh is leading the scoring board.
The team took two wins over the West Auckland Admirals on the weekend and coach Adam Blanchette said the 6-4 and 5-3 scores reflected a fantastic team effort, despite two key offensive players being unavailable on the day.
"We were facing a bit of adversity but the boys stepped it up a level.
"I think it proves to us we are in fact a team. We don't rely just on a few guys to do all the damage."
The team was now in the "driver's seat" for the remainder of the season and should be able to secure finals on home ice.
"It's ours to lose."
The wins also insured the Skycity Stampede will hold on to the Toa Kauhanga Riri Tio trophy for the season. It can only be won by beating a team on home ice during the round robin and Stampede's remaining games will be held in Auckland and Christchurch.
While it was a big team effort, offensive player Colin McIntosh stood out for having a big weekend, Blanchette said.
The 29-year-old Canadian import was credited with four goals and seven assists on the weekend placing him at the top of the league scoring table with 17 goals in 12 games.
It was his first season in Queenstown and he said as soon as he flew over the South Island he knew he was in "heaven on earth."
McIntosh was loving Queenstown life and planning to extend his working visa to remain in Queenstown, work and play another season with the Stampede.
Having worked in construction and with a degree in psychology, he wasn't sure where he would look to work in Queenstown but had already done some advertising work for the New Zealand Olympic Committee ahead of this year's Winter Games.
He had played ice hockey most of his life including four years in college in the United States and the past four-and-a-half years in Europe, finishing up with time in Romania and Hungary before a stint in North Carolina and New York.
He enjoyed the Stampede's camaraderie and their physical play style, which he likened to the type of ice hockey played in North America.
"We've been getting a lot of flack for our style but we've got a lot of people playing a skilled game as well. We can be brutish out there but at the same time there's plenty of finesse."