A BEEFED-up Magpies have fired a warning shot across the bows of rivals in Hockey Albury Wodonga’s Division 1 Men with a 6-2 thumping of Norths.
While the win wasn’t unexpected, coach Ben Allen is expecting his team will get even stronger later in the year.
Already boasting four Spitfires and a former State League player, the Magpies are also hopeful of getting Andrew Maggs and Joel Shepherd back for the second half of the year.
“We have had a pretty solid start to the year,” Allen said.
“Our only loss was when a number of our key players were unavailable, and we showed on Sunday what we are capable of.
“Shepherd is nursing an elbow and back injury but is hopeful of playing later in the year, while Maggs, who coached the Spitfires last year, is expected back from overseas in the coming months and is likely to play, as well.”
Allen said Norths had been their bogey team in recent years.
“That would be the first time we have beaten them in two years,” he said.
“But to be fair we have probably strengthened and they have lost some of the mainstays at least for this year.”
Magpies sit a point adrift of last year’s beaten grand finalists United, which were 6-1 winners on Sunday.
Allen rated Tristan Eichorn, Brenton Newnham and Jeremy Maggs as their best in the win.
“It was a good hitout, especially when we come up against United in the next round,” he said.
“They have a similar line-up to ours and will be tough to beat — everyone expected them to be the premiers and were a bit shocked when they lost last year’s decider.”
This week there is no Division 1 or 2 action, with the annual Steakhouse Cup to be played between rep teams from Albury-Wodonga and Wagga.