Easts are this season looking to build on some positive development gains last year. Picture: Cordell Richardson
Easts are this season looking to build on some positive development gains last year. Picture: Cordell Richardson

Easts in ‘best position’ for a number of years

EASTS' main A-Grade men's focus will be youth development when the 2020 Ipswich Hockey season fires up next week.

Head coach Josh Jones has been doing some terrific work in recent seasons, bringing younger players into the Ipswich ranks.

However, after the Tigers A-Graders endured some mixed results last season missing the finals, Jones was confident they had returned stronger.

"The majority of these younger guys who were 15-16 last year have now come back with bigger bodies,'' said Jones, who has been with the club since 2015.

"The majority of these younger guys play in Brisbane (the J1 competition) as well.''

That blend of experience and willingness to learn has Jones eager to see what his Tigers can achieve this season.

"I truly believe we can match it with the best of them,'' Jones said.

"We will be a significantly younger team, meaning more energy and a fast-paced game style. "Hopefully that translates into wins.''

Dependable Ipswich competition player Kyle Sippel continues as captain this season.

"He did a brilliant job last year in aiding the development of the younger guys into the team,'' Jones said.

"As the under-15 coach he'll have a first-hand look at the future of Easts A Grade.''

Joining Sippel in the leadership group is Jacob Robertson and Maximus Schulz,

Seth Bolton is Easts' top grade goalkeeper.

Easts have a final trial game against Wests this weekend before the 2020 competition starts.

"We're currently in the midst of pre-season training,'' the coach said.

"There's a large emphasis on strength and conditioning, coupled with increasing the base fitness levels of the newer players coming into the squad.''

Easts have been training on Wednesday nights. Jones plans to add a running/fitness session when the season starts.

"As a club, we're probably in the best position we've been in for a number of years,'' he said.

"We have a junior program that most clubs would envy, and we've strengthened our footprint in the women's competition by adding another team this year.

"We have a young core group of players, and our plan is to blood as many of those younger guys as possible into our senior teams.''