Magpie alert at Raceview as Wests develop fine talent
IPSWICH hockey is on a magpie alert with the annual finals just weeks away.
However, it's through a proactive approach rather than good fortune that a number of Wests' teams are ready to swoop in this year's Ipswich playoffs.
Although there's a lot of work to be done before Wests hoist multiple silverware this season, club president Grant Wingfield is delighted with the mid-season progress.
Wests had eight teams in the recent President's Cup finals at Raceview, with the Magpies club winning five and drawing three.
Winning Wests' teams were the club's Reserve Grade men and women, R2 women, E Grade girls and D Grade boys.
In his sixth year as club president, Wingfield praised the professional group of coaches for laying a solid foundation for the future after some lean premiership years.
"They are going really good,'' Wingfield said of the club's widespread mix of teams.
Among the mentors are seasoned coaches like Brent Nicholls, Kel Iszlaub and Danni Emblem, along with knowledgable hockey trio Vanessa Kissane, Bonnie Reeves and Deb West.
"We've got some really good coaches for the young kids and they're learning all the good stuff,'' Wingfield said.
"You come out and watch them and it's just great.''
He said the club had been trying to streamline its coaching with former A Grade player and international umpire Steve Rogers assuming a coaching director's role for the juniors.
Wests' junior stocks are developing well with exciting teenage prospects like Matt West, Thomas Picton, Talicia Canty, Jordn Office, Gabby Nicholls, Jess Wilkinson and Lauren Hess.
"It's pleasing as a president to actually sit here and actually watch some of these juniors come through,'' Wingfield said.
Wingfield said the junior development was improving at a time the club was also tapping into the knowledge of former state players like Todd Watson, who is helping out the senior side.
"Todd played for the Blades and he talks about things,'' Wingfield said.
"And just listening to what he says to the juniors coming through and what they should be doing.
"That's why we've gone the way we have. To try and get the good coaches in, coaching the right way . . . just that higher calibre is a lot better.''
Wingfield's comments fittingly came after the Wests' A Grade men's side strengthened its top two hopes with a 2-0 victory over Hancock Brothers on Saturday night.
Although both teams were missing under-18 players preparing for the state titles, Wests displayed enough defensive strength and attacking firepower to suggest they will be a threat in the end of season playoffs.
"That really helped us,'' said Wingfield, who is managing this year's A Grade men's team. "That was like a six-point game for us. They didn't get their three and we got our three so it's good.
"We've had two good wins the last two weeks.''
In Saturday night's game, Wests took the lead in the first half after rising under-15 talent Ayden Saric-Pamenter nailed a penalty corner deflection.
He also played a vital lead-up role in Wests' second field goal finished by club recruit Trent Davison, formerly with Hancocks.
"He's been a huge boost having him,'' Wingfield said.
"He's just such a good talker, great leg work. He's 100 per cent all the time.''
Wingfield also praised stand-in goalkeeper Dean Pamenter, who did a fine job with regular Matt West preparing to represent Ipswich at the state under-18 titles in Toowoomba.
State of play
A Grade men: Wests 2 (T Davison, A Saric-Pamenter) d Hancock Brothers 0; Norths 5 (P Jordan 2, D Jeffrey 2, N Maddoks) drew Easts 5 (T Woodford 3, J Robertson, S Bayliss).
A Grade women: Hancock Brothers 4 (R Clarke 2, E Toole, I Evans) d Bellbowrie 3 (B Dolan 2, O Norris); Swifts 3 (S Tainton 2, B McLean) d Norths 2 (N Baxter, S Fynes-Clinton).