North Otago men’s hockey players have had a nice shot of confidence ahead of their annual tilt at the Ian Smith Trophy this weekend.
Tainui, the club team that forms the basis of the representative squad, finally broke through for its first win in the South Canterbury premier club competition last Saturday.
Tainui beat high-flying Temuka 4-2 in Oamaru.
“That was definitely a good boost to our confidence,” Tainui and North Otago player-coach Jared Ovens said.
“Temuka are top of the table, so if we can beat them and draw with Cambridge – that’s pretty much the South Canterbury team.
“It feels like we are going into this weekend on the front foot.”
Tainui took control of the game through two Josh Dalziel penalty corners and led 2-1 at halftime.
Temuka equalised shortly after halftime, but Tainui poured on the intensity at both ends of the turf and sealed the win with goals to Nick Dalziel and Ryan Mackay.
“There was a really good feeling after that game,” Ovens said.
“We made a few mistakes here and there but overall it was a pretty good performance.
“Some of the things that we’ve been doing in practice are starting to come out, and our combinations are coming together. The team is really starting to gel, and we’re learning how some of the new players play.”
North Otago’s opening game in the Ian Smith Trophy in Cromwell is against closest rival South Canterbury tomorrow.
Other games are against defending champion Eastern Southland (Saturday), Invercargill and Central Otago (both Sunday) and Mid Canterbury (Monday).
“We’ll give it a crack. I think Mid Canterbury will be tough, and you never know how someone like Eastern Southland will go,” Ovens said.
“It could be anyone’s tournament, and we’re as good a chance as anyone.”
North Otago hockey great Shaun Cunningham will accompany the team as emergency goalkeeper and a key sideline presence.
– Tainui’s second-division side completed a great weekend for the club with a 9-3 win over Roncalli on Sunday.
Ryan Stringer led the Tainui effort with four goals. Marshall Hore and Bradley McIntosh each scored two, and Lance Sheehy completed the rout.
– Becky Wilson belted in four goals to lead Pirata White to a 6-1 win over St Kevin’s College Development in the North Otago senior mixed competition.
Jordon Cunningham scored twice for the Waitaki Girls’ High School First XI in its 5-1 win over the Waitaki Boys’ High School Second XI, Trish Chikowore bagged a double to lead the St Kevin’s First XI to a 5-0 win over Pirata Black, and Pirata Blue beat Waitaki Girls’ Development 10-0.
Ian Smith Trophy
North Otago squad
Logan Jopson, Paul Alden, Jared Ovens, George Smith, Josh Dalziel, Ryan Stringer, Cluver Swart, Nick Dalziel, Tom Wouters, Jonty Naylor, Ryan Mackay, Jim Keown, Tobias Peters, Caleb Scarlet, Logan Lory.