World-class players to feature in new Premier Hockey League

The Vantage Black Sticks players and many former internationals will go head-to-head in the inaugural Premier Hockey League starting next month.

The eight-team (four men and four women) round-robin competition will run over four extended weekends from 12 November, and will now be held in Hamilton to ensure the wellbeing of all participants. The league was postponed from an August start date due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak in Auckland.

Hockey New Zealand has today announced the squads and the team names for the new league. The four teams will be called the Northern Tridents, the Hauraki Mavericks, the Central Falcons and the Southern Alpiners

Hockey New Zealand Performance Network Manager Simon Brill says the league is focused on progressing our top players as well as bridging the gap between domestic and international hockey.

“The quality of players in this league is of the highest calibre with a vast array of international performers as well as proven local and developing players spread across the eight squads.”

All Vantage Black Sticks players, except a couple who are injured, are available for the league and will be pushing for selection alongside former internationals and future stars for next year’s postponed FIH Pro League and the Tokyo Olympics.

Nick Wilson returns to elite hockey, having not featured for the Vantage Black Sticks since the Rio Olympics he will be pushing the case for selection for the Tokyo Games in 2021. 

The women’s league will also see several former Vantage Black Sticks looking to push their case for a recall to the national side with experienced internationals Michaela Curtis (Central Falcons), Kirsten Pearce, Lulu Tuilotolava (both Northern Tridents) and Tessa Jopp (Southern Alpiners) making themselves available. 

Hockey NZ wanted a Kiwi feel to the team names with a connection to our land and our people. Brill says they consulted with senior players, administrators, coaches and former players to help choose the Tridents, Mavericks, Falcons and Alpiners names.

The Northern Tridents have been inspired by the stunning stretch of water from the Bay of Islands to the mighty Hauraki Gulf, and they are named after the weapon of choice of Poseidon – the legendary God of Sea.  This team covers the region from Northland to Auckland.

The Hauraki Mavericks cover the middle of the North Island, and the name represents the bringing together of such a large area of people who will break with tradition and come up with the unexpected.

The Central Falcons span the lower North Island, an area which is woven together through the central mountain range where you’ll find the fastest predator on earth – the Falcon or mighty Kārearea.

Our fourth team is the Southern Alpiners, the first time we have had a team encompassing the entire South Island,  connected through the majestic Southern Alps.

Hockey NZ decided to move the league from Auckland to a fully controllable venue in Hamilton to reduce the risk to both our participants and to the event of fluctuating Covid-19 alert levels, particularly in Auckland. 

If the country returned to alert level 2 during the league, the bubble being created at the Hamilton venue would protect the health and wellbeing of the players as it would not be used for any other hockey at the time.

“It is disappointing to have to move the league from the new purpose-built National Hockey Centre in Albany but in securing our ability to deliver the competition – the safety of all our participants must come first,” says Brill.

All 28 matches in the Premier Hockey League will be available free on Sky Sport NEXT and are also able to be viewed on Sky Sport 9.

The full draw will be released next week, and it will be determined closer to the time whether spectators can attend based on alert levels.

Premier Hockey League 2020 Dates  
12-15 November: Women Rounds 1-3 
19-22 November: Men Rounds 1-3
25-29 November: Women Rounds 4-6 and final
2-6 December: Men Rounds 4-6 and final

Premier Hockey League 2020 Men’s Squads

Northern Tridents Men: Cory Bennett (N)Ruan BezuidenhoutRobbie CapizziJames CoughlanBenji EdwardsSteve Edwards (N)Connor GreentreeAngus GriffinXavier GuyMitch HaydeKim KingstoneIsaac HoulbrookeSam HoustonRichard Joyce (N)Richmond LumLiam MortimerGeorge Muir (N)Netesh SukhaMatthew SymondsKieran O’ConnorCharl Ulrich.
Head Coach: Bryce Collins
Assistant Coach: Graham Shaw
Manager: Casey Henwood

Hauraki Mavericks Men: Marcus Child (N)Simon Child (N)Taylor CraigieMalcolm CurleyGarrick du ToitZander FraserCam HaydeLeon Hayward (N)Shae IswarJonty KeaneyCampbell MacleanTim NeildArun Panchia (N)Daniel PanchiaJared Panchia (N)Matt Rees-GibbsDwayne Rowsell (N)Aidan Sarikaya (N)Jacob Soo ChoonNicholas Woods (N)Maks Wyndham-Smith.
Head Coach: Dean Couzins
Assistant Coach: Colin Stewart
Manager: Hugh Biss

Central Falcons Men: Jordan Cohen, Dominic Dixon, Sean Findlay, Stephen Jenness (N), Joe Hanks, Sam Hiha, Harry Lawson, Dane Lett (N), Trent Lett, Patrick Madder , Shea McAleese (N), Harry Miskimmin, Callum Olsen, Brad Read (N), Jacob Smith (N), Dylan Thomas (N), Mackenzie Wilcox, Nicholas Wilson, Matt van Aardt, Benedict van Woerkom.
Head Coach: Mike Delaney
Assistant Coach: Peter Miskimmin
Assistant Coach: Mark Borgers
Manager: Umesh Parag

Southern Alpiners Men: Louis BeckertMalachi BuschlDavid Brydon (N)George ConnellNick ElderGeorge Enersen (N)Hugo Inglis (N)Moss Jackson, Sam Lane (N)Nick LidstoneJoseph MorrisonDominic NewmanNick Ross (N)Blair Tarrant (N)Dylan ThomasGus WakelingFinn WardJordan WardSimon Yorston, Kane Russell (N), Maxwell Rasmussen
Head Coach: Grant Edwards
Assistant Coach: Aaron Ford
Manager: Campbell Stewart

Premier Hockey League 2020 Women’s Squads

Northern Tridents Women: Olivia Crum, Stephanie Dickins (N), Katie Doar (N), Madison Doar, Izzy Gill, Erin Goad, Ella Gunson (N), Sophie Hildesley, Ella Hyatt Brown, Kate Ivory Tyler Lench, Clodagh McCullough, Stacey Michelsen (N), Kathryn Moffitt, Kirsten Pearce, Jess Pilmer, Samantha Polovnikoff, Kayla Reed, Brooke Roberts (N), Rose Tynan, Madeleine Williamson. 
Head Coach: Jude Menezes
Assistant Coach: Colin Stewart
Assistant Coach: Sandie Mackie
Manager: Kim Jordan

Hauraki Mavericks Women: Breana CatleyTarryn Davey (N)Maddie DoweAli HuntAlia Jaques (N)Rose Keddell (N)Julia King (N)Alex LukinAmelia MarlowAlice McIlroy-FosterSophie MorrisonGrace O’Hanlon (N)Kendra Peart-AndersonDeanna RitchieAmy Robinson (N)Tori RobinsonKim TannerLiz Thompson (N)Lulu TuilotolavaTayla WhiteLydia WoodsEva Zylstra.
Head Coach: Mark Borgers
Assistant Coach: Chris Arthur
Assistant Coach: Danielle Cranston
Manager: Jenny Duck

Central Falcons Women: Georgia Barnett (N), Kelly Carline , Kaitlin Cotter (N), Casey Crowley, Michalea Curtis, Rebecca Baker, Megan Hull (N), Jessica Kelly, Rileigh Knapp, Ruby Logan, Estelle Macadre, Holly Pearson (N), Felicity Reidy, Jenna-Rae McIntyre, Emma Rainey, Hope Ralph, Aniwaka Roberts, Olivia Shannon (N), Kelsey Smith (N), Kiriana Wairau-Hunter, Kayla Whitelock (N).
Head Coach: Darren Smith
Assistant Coach: Verity Sharland
Assistant Coach: Henry Wong
Manager: Dani Lett

Southern Alpiners Women: Isabella Ambrosius, Jessie Anderson, Leah Butt, Amelia Calder, Hayley Cox, Anna Crowley, Frances Davies (N), Tessa Jopp, Charlotte Lee, Georgie Mackay-Stewart, Saasha Marsters, Rachel McCann (N), Olivia Merry (N), Kirsty Nation, Arabella Sheild, Belinda Smith, Phoebe Steele, Catherine Tinning, Brittany Wang, Margot Willis, Emily Wium
Head Coach: Aaron Ford
Assistant Coach: Reiner Vellinga
Assistant Coach: Kate Trolove
Manager: Rachel Williams

Further details revealed for Premier Hockey League

Over the next month, as we build towards the first-ever Premier Hockey League, Hockey New Zealand will be releasing more details around the teams and players who will be taking part in this incredible new league.

You will see the best 160 players from across the country (80 Men and 80 Women) competing against one another on the highest domestic stage. There is even more on the line this year with selections on the line for the Vantage Black Sticks as they build towards the postponed Tokyo Olympics and FIH Hockey Pro League.

North Harbour Hockey will play host at the newly built world-class stadium which played hosts to the Olympic and World Champions earlier in 2020. It will be fantastic to see this incredible venue utilized to launch such an important event for our players who are pushing for selection in the National Squads.

The matches at North Harbour will be free to attend, and we would love to see the wider hockey community get along to the series and check out the incredible hockey that will be on display. If you can’t make it don’t worry as Sky Sports New Zealand will have all the games live-streamed on their Sky Sport Next platform as well as select games on Sky Sports Television.

The competition will see four men’s and four women’s teams play a round-robin competition over two extended weekends in August and September. The final weekend will culminate with a Sunday Finals day to decide the inaugural Premier Hockey League champions.

As the Premier Hockey League is preparing our top players for the rigours of international hockey as well as for the Olympic Games next year the level of competition must meet that need. Teams will be selected via the Hockey Premier League draft. With the majority of players selected as protected local players who will not be entered into the draft and will play for the team representative of where they play their representative hockey. The draft will then select the remaining players into teams and must include two goalkeepers.

To facilitate environments that will be ideal preparation for the International Game as well as ensuring a high pace of play the following adaptions will be made to the rules of the game for the Premier Hockey League.

Every game will be played in four, 15-minute quarters. If a match is drawn, it will result in a best of three penalty shootout.

Each squad will have a maximum of 20 players; however, during any match, they will only be able to have 18 players including two goalkeepers.

This is the first representative domestic hockey league that will be resuming around the world so make sure you follow along to see our current and future Black Sticks players battling it out as they push their case for higher honours.

New Premier Hockey League Underway Next Month

Our top men’s and women’s hockey players will feature in a new Premier Hockey League launching next month.

The eight-team (four men and four women), 28-match competition will double as a selection event for the Vantage Black Sticks as they rebuild towards next year’s postponed FIH Pro League and the Tokyo Olympics.

The inaugural league will be held at the new purpose-built National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland and matches will be free to attend. The league will run from August 20-23 and September 9-13 for the men, and August 27-30 and September 17-20 for the women.

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis said they were excited to deliver the competition following today’s funding announcement from the Minister of Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson.

“We’re grateful to Sport NZ and Minister Robertson for the incredible support announced today, and look forward to bringing top-class domestic hockey to our communities”.

“Hockey in New Zealand underwent a comprehensive strategic review to ensure we were fit-for-purpose to achieve one of our key goals for the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women – to win medals at the upcoming Olympics.

“We have evolved our system to ensure we work more closely with the next tier of players, as well as helping bridge the gap between club and international hockey. This will not only help our national team’s performance on the world stage, but it will continue to grow our game.”

The Premier Hockey League is focused on progressing New Zealand’s top talent into the high-performance environment. Players for the league will be selected from across the country and are all available for Vantage Black Sticks selection. Many are part of the newly developed Performance Network, and all have been back training to prepare for full match play next month.

Hockey New Zealand is also thrilled to announce that Sky Sport is confirmed as the new League’s official broadcaster.

Tex Teixeira, Sky Sport Chief Content Officer commented, “Our aim at Sky Sport Next is to support and encourage New Zealand athletes across a wide range of sports, particularly those with a pathway to the Olympics.  We’re excited that Sky Sport and Sky Sport Next will showcase the Premier Hockey League including the Vantage Black Sticks National Squads – inspiring future world champions, Commonwealth Games athletes and Olympians.”

The previous Ford National Hockey League is now called the Ford National Hockey Championships and is where the 32 Associations will compete for national honours. Along with the K Cup for women and the Challenge Trophy for men, these tournaments remain the pinnacle provincial competitions in the country. They will return in 2021 after Covid-19 enforced cancellations this year.

PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE DATES

20-23 August – Men
27-30 August – Women
9-13 September – Men
17-20 September – Women

All matches will be played at the National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland