History beckons new-look squad

THE Strikers under-17 squad is chasing history.

After successive Victorian titles the Hockey Albury Wodonga girls rep team can set a new standard with a three-peat this year.

While coach Craig Shepherd acknowledges it is a big ask — seven of last year’s players are now too old to play — he believes the next generation is impressive.

“Three in a row at the state championships has never been done before,” he said.

“In some ways we are setting the benchmark against squads that boast up to six state players.

“Last year at the state carnival we had other teams videoing our games — some to prepare for when they played us and others to copy our style.

“We are from the country and we play it pretty tough, pretty physical.

“It’s the way we play in club hockey. Most of these girls play senior hockey. Quite a number last year played state league hockey for the senior Strikers.

“It is one of the reasons we are so strong.

“We don’t really have superstars just a solid squad of girls.”

The Strikers under-17s will have a wave of under-15 rep players who were runners-up in their division at the state titles last year.

“Junior hockey in general is in good shape on the Border, Shepherd said.

“There has been a focus on that in recent times and it appears to be paying dividends.

“Our under 17 squad of 20 will have to be cut to 14.

“The under-13s look like having a development squad as well as the main team.”

Hockey Albury Wodonga operation manager Belinda Fraser said there would be club competitions for under-9s to veterans.

“New and old players are welcome,” she said.

“Hook in2 Hockey — a hockey skills program for kids under 12 — will also be running.

A registration day will be held on Sunday at the Albury Hockey Centre from 10am to noon.

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