‘Best’ battle, thrilling finale and a junior surprise
AS some coaches get out the calculators in a quest to make grand finals, another "outstanding surprise'' finishes this weekend.
With one round of Ipswich hockey competition fixtures left, a number of teams have locked up grand final spots on September 19 and 20.
They include the A-Grade men where Hancocks and Norths will prepare for another mouth-watering title showdown.
Ipswich Hockey Association president Robert McLeod rated Hancocks' recent 6-5 victory over Norths one of the best A-Grade men's matches he had seen.
"Hancocks got up with about five seconds to spare,'' McLeod said.
"It was just up and down all the time.
"It was good and clean. It was very crisp and it was quite a fast game.''
The 1998 champions Hancocks and last year's premiers Norths will battle again in the Saturday night grand final on September 19.
However, what shape the A-Grade women's grand final takes remains to be seen.
Hancocks currently hold top spot on goal difference (+10) from defending premiers Wests (also on 15 points with a +4 percentage).
Third placed Thistles (12 points and +5) can possibly sneak into second spot if they beat Easts comfortably in Sunday's final qualifying match.
However, a draw between Hancocks and Wests in Saturday night's game will be enough to secure both teams a grand final berth.
"It's been a very, very exciting season,'' McLeod said.
"Thistles have been a bit of a surprise packet.
"No sides are as strong as what they were last year but it's affected Wests a bit more than anybody else.''
Despite the delayed competition being shortened due to the coronavirus, McLeod was thrilled to see so many teams still battling to secure second spot for grand final weekend.
Only the top two sides will contest a final in each grade of this year's "COVID-19 2020'' hockey competition.
Winning senior and junior teams will have their club name engraved on a plaque that will be hung on the clubhouse wall.
Junior players in runners-up teams will also receive medals this season.
As coaches and players still in finals contention monitor their crucial for and against records, McLeod is delighted with another aspect of this year's season with all the COVID challenges.
"One of the things which surprised me was Hookin2Hockey,'' McLeod said.
Hookin2Hockey sessions in past seasons have attracted 200 players for fun learning in under-5, U7 and U9 grades.
However, having 115 kids still turned up regularly with COVID concerns showed the high level of interest in helping young players enjoy hockey.
All clubs, except Collegians which recently folded, were represented.
Bellbowrie was particularly supportive this season after some terrific recruiting.
"It has been an outstanding response, both from the parents and the kids themselves,'' McLeod said.
"It's good to see them walking around with a hockey stick and a hockey ball and waiting to get on the field.''
McLeod thanked the parents for their assistance helping keep everyone safe in the different zones.
The final Hookin2Hockey program is on Saturday morning.
As the popular junior sessions wrap up, all eyes will be on the grades were teams can still secure last-gasp grand final positions.
The Reserve Grade women's competition is like the A-Grade battle.
While Northern Strikers are safe on 19 points, the remaining spot is wide open. Swifts, Thistles and Wests are still on 14 points with goal differences sure to be decisive.
The R2 men's competition has also come down to the last weekend of fixtures to decide the finalists.
Norths have qualified with Easts Black and Bellbowrie battling for the second spot.
In the Ipswich junior competition, most of the grand final spots have also been locked in.
However, Wests and Nothern Strikers are still chasing second spot in D-Grade boys and Norths can leapfrog Easts Black in E-Grade boys.
A Grade women: Hancocks 15 (+10), Wests 15 (+4), Thistles 12 (+5), Easts 1.
A Grade men: Hancocks 20, Norths 16, Easts 7, Wests 3.
Reserve Grade women: Northern Strikers 19, Swifts 14 (+6), Thistles 14 (+4), Wests 14 (+1), Easts 8, Hancocks 3.
Reserve Grade men: Hancocks 16, Wests 13 (+6), Norths 11 (-2), Easts 6.
R2 women: Swifts 22, Vets 16, Bellbowrie Gold 10, Easts 3, Bellbowrie Green 1.
R2 men: Norths 23, Easts Black 18 (+11), Bellbowrie 17 (+14), Easts Gold 12, Wests 1.
A2 women: Thistles 22 (+21), Bellbowrie 22 (+15), Norths 16, Vets 9, Hancocks 5, Swifts 2.
A2 men: Hancocks 19 (+21), Swifts 19 (+7), Easts 4, Northern Strikers 4.
C Grade girls: Norths 21, Hancocks 16, Thistles 5, Bellbowrie 4.
D Grade boys: Easts 21, Wests 12 (+2), Northern Strikers 12 (-6), Hancocks 3.
D Grade girls: North Western Strikers 17, Swifts 16, Easts 12.
E Grade boys: Hancocks 20, Easts Black 16 (+17), Norths 13 (+24), Western Strikers 3.
E Grade girls: Easts 18, Norths 12, Western Strikers 7 (-13), Thistles 7 (-19), Swifts 3.
STATE OF PLAY
Men's and boys results September 4-6: A Grade - Norths 3 (Zac Profke 3) d Wests 1 (Daniel Westphal); Hancock Brothers 3 (Jay Pavitt, Jackson Willie, Aston Jackwitz) d Easts 0.
Reserve Grade - Norths 2 (R Profke 2) drew Wests 2 (B Arndt, C Jaenke); Easts 5 (J Hoyland-Meaker 2, J Robertson 2, M Schultz) d Hancock Brothers 1 (D Isaac).
R2 Grade - Easts Gold 3 (R Pickering, D Bell, A Hansen) d Wests 0; Easts Black 4 (A Gawthorne, Z Chetham, R Tange, K Riesley) d Hancock Brothers 2 (A Pavitt, S Jackwitz); Norths 1 (B Smith) drew Bellbowrie 1 (H Hocking).
A2 Grade - Hancock Brothers 3 (P Jackwitz, G Harkins, D Howells) d Easts 1 (M Pickering); Swifts 2 (C Meloury, L Pommerey) d Northern Strikers 1 (A Woods).
D Grade - Easts 6 (S Morris 6) d Northern Strikers 0; Wests 2 (S Schoenknect, M Walsgott) d Hancock Brothers 1 (K Daly).
E Grade - Norths 6 (K Hill 2, M Doyle 2, J Cox, B Stanke) d Easts Gold 0; Hancock Brothers 4 (M Hogan 3, L Dawson) d Western Strikers 0; Norths 7 (K Hill 4, T Campbell 2, E Bauer) d Western Strikers 0; Easts Black 2 (N Morris, I Welsh) drew Hancock Brothers 2 (l Dawson, R Conway).
Women's and girls results August 28-30: A Grade - Wests 3 (Eden Jacket, Gabby Nicholls, Jess Wilkinson) d Thistles 2 (Nicole Yearbury, Taylor Evans); Hancock Brothers 3 (Robyn Clark 2, Natalie Davison) d Easts 0.
Reserve Grade - Wests 0 drew Hancock Brothers 0; Northern Strikers 0 drew Easts 0; Thistles 0 drew Swifts 0.
R2 Grade - Swifts 4 (L Basham, A Geeves, C Shaw, A Mirallez) d Bellbowrie Green 0; Vets 4 (K Black 2, J Peters, K Pudwell) d Easts 0.
A2 Grade - Bellbowrie 2 (D Greenalsh 2) d Swifts 0; Thistles 3 (T Maguire, C Hannah, C Gotting) d Norths 0; Hancock Brothers 1 (R McKinnon) d Veterans 0.
C Grade - Norths 3 (C McDowell, S Wode, S Smith) d Bellbowrie 0; Hancock Brothers 2 (A Limberg, R McNamara) d Thistles 1 (J Butler).
D Grade - Swifts 13 (S Baldwin 4, G Dombrowski 3, E West 2, A Pascoe 2, A Meloury, C Philp) d Hancock Brothers 1 (L Schultz); Easts 2 (S Suey, L Mitchell) drew North Western Strikers 2 (M Doyle 2).
E Grade - Norths 4 (B Profke 2, H Johnson, I Jeffrey) d Thistles 0; Swifts 1 (E McGregor) d Western Strikers 0.