|The Wimmera Hockey Association season is set to hit off on Saturday, with the Dimboola club hosting a full round of matches on the artificial turf at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre.
After last season’s disappointment, with only ten rounds played and the finals cancelled, the Wimmera’s hockey players are keen to take to the field again, eager for a full and uninterrupted season.
This year, the Association’s six clubs will all field teams in each of the Open, Women’s, and Under 16 competitions, except for Dimboola, which is only fielding an Open team. In addition, all clubs will be represented in the popular Under 12 Development Program.
Most teams start the season as unknowns, with many still finalising their playing rosters, so it will be several rounds before we get a good indication of how they will all perform in 2022.
Perennial champions, Yanac Tigers, dominated last year’s Open competition by winning all ten of their games, with the Warrack Hoops not far behind, and as these two have played off in eight of the last ten grand finals, all eyes will be on them to see if this rivalry will continue.
Lower on the ladder, only two wins separated the Dimboola Burras, Nhill Rangers, Kaniva Cobras, and Horsham Hurricanes, so subject to off-season player movements, any of these could emerge as a serious contender.
Yanac also dominated the Women’s division and will again be the team to catch, but Kaniva was on track to qualify for their first-ever grand final when last season was abandoned and will have the incentive of some unfinished business from 2021 to spur them on.
Nhill Thunderbirds and Horsham Jets filled the remaining places in the top four and should be competitive again.
Warracknabeal Women return after not fielding a team last year, and although being in a rebuilding period, they will have the freedom from expectations that might just allow them to spring some surprises if any opponents choose not to take them seriously.
The Under 16 competition is always challenging to predict, as forced personnel changes due to older players moving to the senior ranks will give most teams a very different look from last season.
The Yanac Warriors were undefeated in this competition last year, and regardless of player changes, they always tend to be towards the top of the ladder. Horsham Bombers were closing in on their first grand final appearance in two decades last year, so the early interest will be in whether they can recapture last year’s form and realise that potential.
Nhill Leopards, Kaniva Raiders, and Warrack Revengers should all be in the mix again after only half a win separated them at the end of last season.
The Under 12 Development Program will not be commencing until round two, with their timeslot on Saturday to hold the Association’s Annual General Meeting and presentation of the trophies from last season.
Round One Fixture
Saturday 30 April, 2022 at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre
9:30 am - Under 16 - Kaniva Raiders v Yanac Warriors
11:00 am - Under 16 - Horsham Bombers v Warracknabeal Revengers
12:30 pm - Association AGM and 2021 Award Presentations (No Under 12 Development Program)
1:30 pm - Women - Kaniva Women v Yanac Women
3:00 pm - Women - Horsham Jets v Warracknabeal
4:30 pm - Open - Kaniva Cobras v Yanac Tigers
6:00 pm - Open - Horsham Hurricanes v Warracknabeal Hoops
7:30 pm - Open - Dimboola Burras v Nhill Rangers