GNL. As the Rocky Cape Tavern Smithton Saints prepare to launch their Greater Northern League season this weekend, the competition is introducing four-quarter games.
Division One men and women will now play 17 minute quarters, while Div Two and Three continue to play the traditional 35 minute halves.
The Saints welcome Nick Stokes and Elliott “Mildoo” Mainwaring as the men’s and women’s coaches respectively while Peter Grey and Ashley House return for their second year with Div Two and Three.
With the Hockey North West Under 16s season starting tomorrow (Friday March 31), the Saints will take the bye and play their first game next Friday (April 7) against Devonport.
Coaching the side this year is Clayton House, who says the Saints hold an advantage with seven of the team’s 14 players having been selected to represent the state in the past. From the squad, five will also join Div Two this season.
“Our main focus is on development and getting them to play a different style of hockey . . . and as a team,” House said.
Div One coach Stokes has spent the past four years coaching Tigers Hockey Club in Circular Head Hockey Association’s Div Two and in that time led them to two grand final victories.
Despite losing Sam Porteus-Smith and John Innes-Smith, Stokes says the additions of Logan Buckby, Harry Lester and former Singapore Youth Olympian Brandon Chan will strengthen the side further.
“We’re changing our style, changing things up a bit this year playing a more aggressive offensive style,” Stokes says, building onto an already firm defensive line up.
The men will face Burnie Baptist in their first game this Saturday, while the women take a bye and begin their season next Saturday (Saturday April 8) against City Marians.
Div One women’s coach Mainwaring says with the inclusions of Lily Nibbs, Lara Porteus-Smith, Melissa Stokes, Emma Innes-Smith and Sasha Davies alongside the experience of Leah House and Sonia Poke, the women look to make an impact in the league.
Mainwaring says the club will continue to rely on players filtering from CHHA to make up numbers.
“Our main focus this year [is to] play a good enjoyable season of hockey and hopefully the success will follow through from that.”
Having begun the Div Two season last weekend (Saturday March 18) with a 6-6 draw against West Devonport, before a 1-0 victory against South Burnie on Saturday, coach Grey says the side is looking to foster the talent of the six underage players this season.
The team has a bye this weekend before facing City Marians next Saturday (April 8) in round four.
With the loss of Clayton House, Matthew Lester, Craig Dwyer and Chris House this season, Div Three coach Ashley House says the team’s focus will be to build a competitive structure and believes this is achievable after recruiting former Burnie Baptist player Tyson House, Clinton de Jonge, Curtis Tuxworth and Dylan Jago. The side began their season last night (Wednesday March 29) against Burnie Baptist in Smithton.