Mixed effort by N. Otago men

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It was a tournament of two halves.

The North Otago men’s hockey team was on track to regain the Ian Smith Trophy after winning its first two games at the annual tournament in Cromwell at the weekend.

Just a shame its next three games ended in defeat.

North Otago beat South Canterbury and defending champion Eastern Southland by identical 3-2 scorelines on Saturday.

Losses to Invercargill (4-1) and Central Otago (2-1) on Sunday were followed by a 3-1 loss to Mid Canterbury on Monday.

“We were right on song for most of the first day,” player-coach Jared Ovens said.

“But we showed a few signs of going downhill in the second half of our second game. Then we never really turned up against Invercargill, and we couldn’t convert some really good opportunities against Central Otago.

“Against Mid Canterbury, we had plenty of chances to score a few goals but we just couldn’t do it, and they were too good in the end.”

Ovens said it was one of the best tournaments in recent memory.

“Five of the six teams went into the final day with a chance of winning it, so that was really good.”

Logan Lory, Josh Dalziel and Ryan Mackay scored North Otago’s goals against South Canterbury, and Lory, Dalziel and Jonty Naylor found the net against Eastern Southland.

Jim Keown scored the only goal against Invercargill, and Ryan Mackay scored against Mid Canterbury.

Dalziel, Ovens and 20-year-old goalkeeper Logan Jopson were selected in the tournament team, and Jopson was named best youth player.

Mid Canterbury won the Ian Smith Trophy.

Most of the North Otago players have this weekend off before resuming the South Canterbury premier division campaign with Tainui.