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The Central Falcons have won the inaugural men’s Premier Hockey League.
The men’s final went into a shootout after late goals from both the Falcons and the Southern Alpiners meant the teams were level at 1-1 at fulltime in Hamilton yesterday.
It was a day for the goalkeepers Dom Dixon and George Enerson, with only one of the five penalty shootout attempts going in (from Stephen Jenness) and a number of field goal attempts brilliantly saved.
After a scoreless 58 minutes, Falcons striker Sam Hiha found himself in space in the circle and nailed the first goal of the match.
The Alpiners immediately took off their keeper, winning a penalty corner a minute later which Sam Lane converted with a drag flick.
The first half had featured a classy save from Enerson to block a strong Dylan Thomas shot.
Dixon was not to be outdone by his opposite though, making an outstanding save of a cracking Nick Ross shot after the Alpiners skipper made a clever intercept.
Black Sticks captain Blair Tarrant had one of the best chances of the final quarter as he stole the ball and was one-on-one with the keeper, but lifted the ball wide.
The league’s most valuable player Jacob Smith (Falcons) knocked it in from the spot later in the match but unfortunately he used the back of the stick.
The Hiha and Lane goals followed to send the match into a penalty shootout with the solitary Jenness goal being the match and title winner.
But it was the Falcons keeper Dixon — who did not concede a single goal in the shootout — who was the key to the victory.
The Hauraki Mavericks collected the bronze medal with a 4-1 victory over the Northern Tridents in their third place playoff Hamilton this afternoon.