Stalwart still gets buzz as Norths show what dreams made of
BATTLES between experience and youth often don't end well for the younger players.
However, Norths proved speed and superior shooting under pressure can compensate for any lack in big match pressure.
The youth-laden Norths Reserve Grade did just that in this year's Ipswich COVID competition grand final. But it took extra time and shootouts to split Norths and Hancocks at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Norths won the shootouts 3-0 after rallying from 1-0 down in regular play to equalise and maintain a deadlock in the 10 minutes of extra time.
Against a Hancocks team with seasoned hockey exponents like Adrian Pavitt, Chris Fenton, Brent Kinnane and former A-Grade captain Dean Pavitt, Norths relied on teenage talents like Riley Profke, Archie Cameron, Caleb Doyle and Zac Ashton-Norton to get the job done.
Profke, Ashton-Norton and Aiden Buckley nailed their shootout opportunities to seal a tense victory.
Having seen plenty of nailbiting duels in his decades of service, Norths co-coach Kel Iszlaub was impressed with how the young guns responded after speedster Hayden Michel had put Hancocks up 1-0.
"It's really good. It's good for the club,'' the hockey stalwart said.
"We had seven who were basically in their first year in senior (competition).
"Seven went away last week with Met West so we had to cover that.
"It was a tough game.''
Assisted by another Norths veteran Chris Leeder, Iszlaub helped assemble a side which he said "started off very ordinary''.
When the coronavirus forced a competition shutdown, Iszlaub said the team's future was uncertain.
"But we stuck with it,'' he said. "When the club wanted to know who was coming back, they hang around and they all wanted to come.''
As Norths teams often do, they peaked at the right time.
Having been a long-term coach and helper at Ipswich hockey, Iszlaub still gets a buzz out of grand final rewards.
"After today, that's what you live for,'' he said. "That's what dreams are made of and the boys you can't complain about them.''
But Iszlaub conceded they had not considered the game finishing with shootouts.
"We just said to them at the end there: 'Who is confident?''' Iszlaub said.
As the hands went up, Norths were suddenly ready to break the deadlock and secure a memorable win.
"They had to dig deep and they did,'' Iszlaub said.
"You couldn't ask for any more from them - happy as.''
STATE OF PLAY
Reserve Grade men: Norths 1 (Riley Profke) def Hancock Brothers 1 (Hayden Michel) 4-1 after shootouts. After 10 minutes of extra time failed to break the deadlock, the game went into shootouts. Zac Ashton-Norton, Riley Profke, Aiden Buckley converted for Norths to make the final score 4-1 to Norths.
R2 Grade men: Norths 2 (Tony Ross, Brad Smith) drew Easts Black 2 (Jonathan Gearing, Angus Macdonald). With the score still drawn after five minutes each way in extra time, the teams decided to share the trophy.
A2 Grade men: Hancock Brothers 3 (Jake Burns 2, Jonathan Grant) d Swifts 2 (Cyle Meloury, Wade Pascoe).