It is that time of the year again. Nails are bitten, hands are held on top of heads and an army of yellow support their fellow club family in the chase for the ultimate prize. Yes, its finals time!
This season has been one of strength overall. When you see the list of teams that have made finals and those that missed out by the smallest of margins, UCHC has once again showed that once we cross that white line, we are a force to be reckoned with.
This week marks the first week of finals with teams vying to book themselves a ticket straight to the big show or looking to continue their journey through the pack to finish on top. The week starts with a midweek showdown between UCHC and Wests in the major semi-final. It will be a tough test for the mighty midweekers who come against an undefeated Wests side (an unfortunate trend in this year’s finals). Wests have had the upper-hand in this competition, but UCHC have always given them the biggest concerns and whilst the last 2 results haven’t gone the way of UCHC, they definitely don’t reflect how close the two teams are. UCHC has a mighty record in recent history of the competition, particularly in finals. They have shown on countless occasions that everything changes when it gets to finals time and expect nothing different. With 2 players in the top 5 goals scorers in the midweek competition (Scott Moore and Ben O’Sullivan), expect offence to be the flavour of the night. The cool head of recently appointed Canberra Chill Assistant Coach, Paul Sureda will provide the hockey brains and experience needed to guide UCHC to an upset victory and book a place in the grand final. (Game starts Wednesday, 7:10pm Powell Field)
Saturday provides a plethora of hockey action for UCHC members with the men’s teams featuring throughout the day. First cab off the rank is the UCHC Red SL3 men’s team. Having fought off the other UCHC team in their grade, UCHC Red will be keen to show why they are the team to fly the UCHC flag in this grade. Coming up against a St Pats team that is always keen to show their physicality, the boys (and girls) in yellow will need to play smart hockey to overcome the Saints. Whilst St Pats appear a tough task on paper, they have twice drawn with UCHC Red during the regular season and with the special talent of Thekla Ganiaris in goals and the unpredictable striking force of Gurpreet Singh Saini upfront, expect these guys to bring home the sweets! (Game starts Saturday, 12:15pm Watt Field)
Following on from the SL3 men on the same field, the SL4 ‘beership’ men come up against the same opposition club in St Pats. Having made the return to finals, these guys are keen to make 2019 count. Finishing 3rd in the regular season they face an opponent that has tested them during the regular season, though it was UCHC that won 3-2 in round 19 in their last matchup. With a combined experience of just over 4500 games between them, the SL4 men have experience in finals situations on their side. A mix of youth in Ali Al-Ameri and Aidan Smith, and experience in John Lovejoy and John ‘JB’ Blood ensures the perfect mix of pace and hard hitting that has been an entertaining feature of the SL4 men’s season. If anyone was under any doubt of which field the SL4 men are playing on come Saturday, just listen out for the famous “YELLLLLLLLOOOOOOOOWWW” from club legend Garth O’Connell to guide you and watch these guys bring home the bacon! (Game starts Saturday, 2pm Watt Field)
At the same time, the ever-strong SL2 men kick off their finals campaign in an elimination final against Quangers (Queanbeyan). SL2 have prided themselves on a formidable defence this season with Brick S***house (Male Goalkeeper of the year) favourite Cam Esler in goals, they tied the best defensive record in the competition. Not to be outdone, the perennial firepower upfront of Dave ‘dicey on the backstick’ McNally with 23 goals already scored this season will no doubt be a worry for the Quangers defenders. Having somehow only played once during the regular season way back in round 3, UCHC were comfortable winners 4-1. A lot has obviously changed since then and the two teams will be relative unknowns to each other this time around. Having played in finals for the last 3 or 4 seasons in a row, we expect these boys to have the competitive edge in this one and come out on top! (Game starts Saturday, 2pm Powell Field)
Last, but definitely not least, the final game of the day will see our CL2 boys in the major semi-final. Similar to the midweekers, the CL2 men come against an undefeated and barely scored against Wests outfit that regularly features multiple first grade representatives. Whilst it seems an uphill battle for our top graded men’s side, Wests record in finals for this grade has been nothing but disappointing over the last couple seasons as they were dumped out of finals last year in straight losses. Those that have followed the CL2 season closely will note the last game between the sides was 1-1 at half time with the score only blowing out in the final stages of the match. The case will not be the same this time round with this game promising some very entertaining hockey. Pete Carling has shown in recent weeks, why he is the best male keeper in the club coming up with some massive saves for the team. Similarly, the pace up front in Taylor Green, Ryan Dix and Jackson Leckie will keep the defence on their toes and should UCHC get some short corner opportunities Stirling Sharpe has proved lethal at times during the season with 15 goals already scored. The boys will need all the support we can muster so don’t miss this one, game starts Saturday, 5:45pm Carter Field.
Whilst not in action this week, last year’s grandfinalists SL1 Blue Women have the week off for the first round of finals and will instead fight it out in a semi-final in round 2 of the finals.
This year also sees a return of the supporter shirts for sale at $10 each. So kit up and come down and cheer on the Yellow Devils this Wednesday night and Saturday! FORGET THE CHILL, UC DEVILS ARE BRINGING THE HEAT!