Hockey hits town

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 03-Nov-2017

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Australia's national hockey teams will be in Bendigo this weekend. Photo: Andrew Perryman.
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INTERNATIONAL hockey will once again hit Bendigo this weekend as four of the world’s top international teams line up when the 2017 International Festival of Hockey starts on
Sunday.

The two-day event will see three matches played in Bendigo featuring both of the Australian national teams, the Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos.

The second-ranked side in the world, the Kookaburras will play New Zealand in the second trans-Tasman rivalry to hit the city in the past month.

The Australian and New Zealand rugby sevens side met in a five-match series at Epsom a fortnight ago.

Australia will meet the Black Sticks on Sunday before playing again on Monday afternoon before their women’s counterparts take to the pitch.

The Australian outfit won the Oceania Cup earlier this month in Sydney but a number of changes have been made from that squad in a bid to prepare for December’s World League Final in India.

Uncapped trio Jake Harvie, Tim Howard and Corey Weyer get an opportunity after strong performances at the Australian Hockey League.

Victorian trio Kiran Arunasalam, Aaron Kleinschmidt and Josh Pollard have been recalled after their AHL campaign to play in their home state, along with goalkeeper Andrew Charter.

Aran Zalewski and Eddie Ockenden will lead the side in the absence of captain Mark Knowles.

“Having a tournament prior to the World League Final is a great opportunity,” coach Mark Batch said.

“We’re very mindful it’s been a long season for some players who played in the Hockey India League earlier this year.

 “The key thing is for these players to refresh for World League Four and we think we can achieve that, while some of the others need to play therefore the Melbourne and Bendigo matches are ideal.

“Playing consistently well at international level has been a challenge for us in the past.

“We produced good form during the Oceania Cup but we need to continue that in these matches.”

The Hockeyroos are also looking forward to their match, to be played against the USA on Monday at 6pm.

From the Hockeyroos’ winning Oceania Cup team, Victorian trio Laura Barden, Lily Brazel and Emily Hurtz and Queensland’s Savannah Fitzpatrick all come in for the festival of hockey.

“This is a great opportunity to play against high quality teams and also explore our playing group so we can make better decisions in regards to our selections for next year,” coach Paul Gaudoin said.

Tickets for the series are available through Ticketmaster.

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