Hockey starts tonight

by Wayne Edwards

THE 2007 Hockey season will kick off tonight with Women's A Grade games to be played at Marshall's Hockey Complex.

The competition has been reduced to five teams following last season's wooden spoon Legandz deciding to relegate themselves to A Reserve grade this season. Legandz were quite competitive in A Grade over the past few years and their commitment to their hockey at the highest local level has been appreciated.

The competition kicks off with a great clash between Orara Emus and Bellingen Angels at 6.15pm.

Angels may be slight favourites to be a little too strong for Emus. In the remaining game, Sawtell Cougars and Urunga Raiders are expected to have a tight match. Raiders may just have the edge. Norths Tigers have the bye.

n IN Men's A Grade to be held on Monday night, Bellingen Humble Mens are up against Urunga Thunda commencing at 6.15pm. While Thunda were last year's wooden spoon holder, they have recruited well and are expected to have a great deal of fire power up front this year.

Bellingen are also a much improved team and the game is expected to be very close. Thunda are favoured to win.

In the remaining game, last year's runner's up Southside Sharks are up against a Sawtell team determined to redeem themselves after being knocked out of contention last season by Sharks.

Both teams will have player changes from last season. This game is too close to call, although Sharks have Luke Judson in goals and he could be the difference.

Southside Redbacks have the bye and another week to wait before embarking on their quest for a sixth straight premiership. The return of evergreen Graham Robinson as Captain/Coach of Redbacks is positive, although the loss of key players this season will mean others need to step up.

n IN Men's Super League in Grafton, Southside Coffs Harbour travel to Grafton this Sunday to play Sailors in a Grand Final replay. Southside have lost the services of their Captain/Coach Dean Ball who have relocated to Newcastle for work, although the inclusion of former State Junior Simon Ball and the return of Kurt Morris should boost the local team. Sailors are coming off a big loss to City Bears last week and will be keen to get back into the winners circle. Sailors will be favoured at home to win. At this early stage City Bears and Royals look good, although the competition is expected to be very close.

n THE lower Senior Grade's will commence next Saturday on April 21.

Team numbers have been boosted and the competition for both Men and Women are expected to be very close.

Junior Hockey will commence on Saturday, April 28.

n IN other news, Coffs Harbour Junior Reece Edwards played a strong part in NSW Country's Under 18's recent win over City at Tamworth.

The game looked certain to end in a draw until a goal to NSW Country in the last 20 seconds sealed a hard fought 3-2 win.

Congratulations also to Chris Shipman for his appointment as Captain of the North Coast CHS team. They will play in the State Championships next month to be held on the Central Coast. He will be joined by club mate Reece Edwards who also gained selection.

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