Wimmera Hockey hits off this weekend
|The Wimmera Hockey Association 2017 Winter season will be launched at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre on Friday evening with two games under lights, followed by a full schedule of games on Saturday.
This season will involve competition in four divisions over 15 regular rounds played between April and August, culminating in the grand finals on the 9th of September, after semi and preliminary finals.
After the success of the first season of the Under 12 competition last year, this will continue with three games played in the prime 12.30 time slot each week.
Teams representing the Wimmera Hockey Association will also participate in the Junior State Country Championships which will be held at various venues in Melbourne on the 20th and 21st of May and the senior championships at Greensborough in Melbourne form the Men and Geelong for the Women over the long weekend in June.
As usual, during the lead up to the season there has been many rumours about player movements since last year but the line-up of most teams will not be settled until a couple of rounds into the season. This makes early season form difficult to predict, but there is no evidence to suggest that the leading teams from 2016 will not be the teams to watch.
The only thing that can be predicted with any confidence about the Under 12 competition is that three keenly contested games will be played each Saturday, but player availability each week can have a great impact on the performance of each team, so predicting results can be very difficult.
Round 1 Preview
The first round will commence with a game in the Women’s division when the Dimboola Roos taking on the Horsham Jets at 7 pm on Friday evening on the artificial turf at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre in a match up that always delivers a close and exciting game.
The Jets were not very far behind the top two teams last season, and would like nothing more than to get one up on the reigning premiers early in the season.
This will be followed by the Dimboola Burras taking on the Horsham Hurricanes in the Open competition in a game that could go either way.
Since winning their one and only premiership back in 2011, the Dimboola Men’s team has remained a serious contender in the finals, but have just not been able to complete the final step into another grand final, but early wins this season will take the pressure off towards the end.
The Hurricanes have lacked consistency over recent seasons, often following a big game with a lack-lustre performance. A first up win would do wonders for their confidence and their chances of being in the top four by the end of the season.
The action on Saturday commences with three evenly matched Under 16 games, with the Horsham Bombers taking on the Dimboola Kangaroos to get the day started. The Bombers won three games last season, their best performance for several years, but they also came close to getting the points on a number of other occasions. If they can put their best team on the field this week, this will be a very close game.
The Nhill Leopards dominated the Under 16 competition last year, but the Warrack Revengers were not too far behind, so this should be another close game.
The game between the Kaniva Raiders and the Yanac Warriors will see another two evenly matched teams from 2016 meet, with either team capable of taking the points on the day.
The Nhill Thunderbirds and the Warrack Women fought it out over the closing rounds of 2016 for the last place in the finals, and will meet again at 3.00 pm in the first of the Women’s games for the day. Both teams will have some new faces so it is difficult to predict a winner.
The Kaniva Women then face the daunting task of taking on the Yanac Women, who finished well ahead on the ladder at the end of last season but did not taste victory in the grand final, so will be hungry to prove this year that they deserve to be at the top.
Once the lights are turned on in the evening, the Warrack Hoops who will be keen to start their premiership quest on a winning note will encounter a confident Nhill Rangers team which climbed from the bottom of the ladder late last season, and will be determined to continue that improvement.
The round concludes with what is always a tight game when the Yanac Tigers take on the Kaniva Cobras. Whilst the Tigers have an impressive finals record, the Cobras have always struggled late in the season, but 2017 may be the year for them to take the next stop and prove that they can be a force towards the end of the season. Taking on the reigning premiers first up will give them a good indication of where they stand and what they will need to do over the following fourteen rounds.
The three Under 12 games will be played at 12.30 on Saturday.
Round One Fixture – all games at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre
Friday 21 April
|7.00 pm ||Women - Dimboola Roos v. Horsham Jets|
|8.30 pm ||Open - Dimboola Burras v. Horsham Hurricanes|
Saturday 22 April
|9.30 am ||Under 16 - Dimboola Kangaroos v. Horsham Bombers|
|11.00 am ||Under 16 - Nhill Leopards v. Warrack Revengers|
|12.30 pm ||Under 12 - Dimboola Kookaburras v. Horsham Blackhawks|
| ||Under 12 - Nhill Bandits v. Warrcknabeal|
| ||Under 12 - Kaniva Rampagers v. Yanac Lowan Stars|
|1.30 pm ||Under 16 - Kaniva Raiders v. Yanac Warriors|
|3.00 pm ||Women - Nhill Thunderbirds v. Warrack Women|
|4.30 pm ||Women - Kaniva Women v. Yanac Women|
|6.00 pm ||Open - Nhill Rangers v. Warrack Hoops|
|7.30 pm ||Open - Kaniva Cobras v. Yanac Tigers|