Absences reduce matches

With the competition being affected by the national under 21s tournament last week, fewer games were played in local premier hockey during the last two weekends.

Teams who were missing more than a third of their sides were able to defer games and only a single women's game and two men's were played each of the last two weekends.

On Saturday the only men's game in Dunedin was played between old rivals Albany and Taieri. Both sides were missing some representative players and Taieri was also carrying several injuries and had to call on some reinforcements.

The match started slowly with neither side playing to their true potential.

Control of possession slipped away at key moments and no real momentum was gained.

The turning point came in the second quarter where some ill-discipline resulted in Taieri losing two players to the sin bin. The two man difference proved crucial, as Albany scored a brace of goals in that two minutes. From then on in the first half it was able to control the pace of the match and Taieri would have been counting itself lucky the score remained 2-0.

Veterans Gabe Rawcliffe and Matt Moore were busy and efficient for the Albany side and their experience came in handy in the second half as Taieri attempted to mount a comeback.

The blue and golds would have felt they had the better of the third quarter but were not able to break through. Forwards Matt Deller and Tom Jolly were causing all sorts of trouble for Albany but the inside of the goal remained elusive.

As the clock ticked down to the final eight minutes, Taieri made a bold decision to take off its goalie and play an extra striker. It almost backfired immediately, as Albany just missed the empty net. With three minutes to go Taieri's tactics worked, as Sam Young slid into the goal with the ball, deflecting home a Jolly strike. Albany attempted to hold the ball to the end and Taieri had a chance to equalise in the final 20 seconds but the strike went wide and Albany took the points.

In the other match, Kings defended the challenge shield 1-0 over Southland in Gore. Last week Taieri also beat Southland 1-0 and Kings scored three times in the final three minutes to hold the shield against a spirited University Black side. University Blue had both its games deferred.

In the women's competition, Taieri and City Highlanders deferred their games, so only a single match was played each week. Momona beat University A 2-1 in a close battle last week and this weekend it eased past a depleted Kings United side 5-0 to remain unbeaten.

 - Matt West
 

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