Hockey has swung back into motion with the 2022 season getting under way last weekend.
The Lower South East Hockey Association relaunched itself for another big year with games taking place on its famous AstroTurf pitch at Blue Lake Sports Park.
Play began on Friday night with the Division 2 and 3 women taking centre stage before the top grade took over proceedings on Saturday and Sunday.
All in all 13 games took place to keep fans engaged across the three days.
The competitive stick versus stick contests were complimented by vocal crowds underneath the sheds on the clubrooms wing and these sounds were the true signs that hockey returned.
Lower South East Hockey Association president Lochie Nisbett said it was a great feeling to return.
“As with any sport there is plenty of excitement around after a summer off,” he said.
“Especially with COVID and all that stuff people were probably keen just to get out of the house and do something.
“I think the round went well and there were no complaints which was the main thing.”
All sporting teams are likely to be impacted by close COVID-19 restrictions this season and sadly hockey was no different.
Nisbett said numbers remained strong with only a couple of players out due to isolation, while some youngsters were busy at the representative level.
“I think all teams were pretty good with only a couple isolation, but it was not a huge deal,” he said.
“A couple of the A Grade teams had some people out for Under 15’s and 18’s state commitments which did not help those teams, but everyone was in control.
“We are going to have to put up with COVID all season and we are understanding with what is going on.
“The biggest struggle was two years ago when the season was cut short, but things are looking pretty good considering we can push on.
“We may lose the odd player for a week or two, but I would say the teams are in control.”
After getting the season off the ground last weekend, the sport takes a small breather over the Easter long weekend before getting into full swing again on Saturday, April 23.
Although the season has already started, the juniors are yet to fire up with nominations still coming in from clubs.
The fixture is also yet to be finalised,
but is expected to be fully announced within the next week.
West is the team to beat in both Division 1 men’s and women’s competitions after it swept the floor on an unforgettable night last year.
Both teams launched its title defence against Riddoch Strikers on Saturday as the season openers.
The Division 1 Men’s battle was heated from the first whistle with the West attack line testing the Strikers’ defence.
The reigning premier was able to push forward through Nathan Taylor, Chris Calliss and Brad Hann.
But the Riddoch Strikers backline held firm thanks to the gritty efforts of Dean McCarthy, John Tregenza and keeper Jordan Fabian.
Eventually their hard work paid off as Riddoch Strikers started the year with an uplifting 1-0 win over the defending champs.
West’s Division 1 Women’s team took control of its battle early and created many scoring opportunities.
The likes Gemma Ballintyne, Lily Delaland and Dana Jones were doing a lot of the heavy lifting to ensure the ball remained exclusively at West’s end in the first term.
Eventually the reigning premiers were the first to get on the board after a strong passage of play between Ballintyne and Rebecca O’Donohue.
Scores were not available at the time of print.