Provinces to vie for ‘Covid baby’

Otago will head north this long weekend in the hope of snatching the "Covid baby" from Canterbury.

The provinces are actually competing for the Mainland Cup. It is a new competition drawn up last year to give the teams some hockey after the global pandemic squashed the regular season.

Canterbury made a successful raid when it came south to Dunedin last year and it will be the favourite to retain the title on home turf.

But Otago pathways manager Hymie Gill is hopeful the province will be competitive.

Under the format the senior women, senior men, under-18 women and under-18 men play three games against their Canterbury opposites.

The winner will be the province which collects the most wins from the series. If each province has the same amount of wins then the title will be decided on a goal countback.

For the two under-18 teams it is an important tournament as they build for the national tournaments in July.

Those teams will be announced following the tournament "so it is like a final trial for them", Gill said.

"And they are playing against Canterbury, who has traditionally had some of the strongest under-18 teams around. So it is good to play the best to see where we are at and how we stack up."

The senior side will be building up for the national hockey championships, which will be held in September in Tauranga.

Gill said he felt the men’s teams offered the most hope of securing some wins against their Canterbury rivals.

The senior men’s team features the three Ward brothers, Jordan, Finn and Patrick. But the likes of Connor Hoskin, Luke Buxton, Zach Mason and James Nicolson are expected to have an impact as well.

The senior women’s team has a useful core headed by experienced goalie Ginny Wilson.

She is a quality shot-stopper and will have some help at the back in the form of solid defender Erin Doleman.

Taylor Duffy will provide some inspiration from the centre of the field and up front Sophie White and Sarah Thomas are charged with providing the finishing touches.

 

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