By KATE ALLMAN
Casualty ward: four Tassie Tigers nursing broken hands
It’s almost a rite of passage to cop a whack to the hand at some point in a hockey player’s career.
However, it’s probably less than usual for four players in a single franchise to be suffering severe hand injuries at the same time. Far less in a short seven-week season.
That’s exactly the misfortunate besetting the Tassie Tigers this week. In the men’s team, Alex Shaw, Hayden Beltz and Josh Beltz are all nursing broken or injured hands. On the women’s side, Jade Smith has been recovering from her broken hand for most of the season.
Nevertheless, three of the four – Hayden Beltz, Shaw and Smith – are listed to take the pitch this Saturday against NSW Pride. Fingers crossed they’ve got enough JDH protective gloves to go around.
It’s a costly week for the Tigers to be walking wounded as they face two dominant NSW Pride teams on Saturday night. The Pride men remain undefeated on the top of the table, while the Pride women have several Hockeyroos returning to the lineup for the home clash.
Fresh faces on debut
Unseen players are still coming out of the woodwork as Hockey One clubs delve deeper into their squad lists, while injuries and rest weeks stack up.
On Friday we will get a first look at Brisbane Blaze debutant Jade Reid. She’s got hockey in the blood as the younger sister of Jesse Reid (Perth Thundersticks) and daughter of gold medallist Hockeyroo Sharon Buchanon.
On Sunday, the Perth Thundersticks men will field Frank Main, who has previously competed in the Australian Hockey League and plays for the University of Western Australia club in Perth. Bryn De Bes will return in his first appearance for 2023, having played for the Thundersticks last year.
Debutant Elyssa Melville will also take the turf for the Thundersticks women for the first time. Just 19 years old, Melville is a known commodity in the West Australian hockey scene, winning Rechelle Hawkes Youth Player of the Year in 2023. She also came fifth in the Charlesworth Medal count for the most valuable player of the Perth Premier League season, which was won by teammate Liné Malan.
Hockey One Pride in Pride Round
Saturday night’s double header promises a party both on and off the pitch. NSW are hosting a Hockey One Pride in Pride Round round to highlight hockey’s diverse communities and celebrate LGBTQI inclusivity.
The game is being supported by Pride in Sport Australia and Bentstix Hockey Club, with AIS Pride in Sport ambassador Greta Hayes at the forefront of the initiative.
“Growing up in Sydney and in the hockey world I didn’t always feel completely supported in this space, so having the Pride Round here in Sydney and taking those steps forward to be more inclusive in the hockey community is something that’s really close to my heart,” Hayes said.
“This round is a good step to support those coming through and hopefully pave the way for a more inclusive future.”
The Pride are hoping to set a new league record for fan attendance to beat Canberra’s 2,200-strong crowd last week. Expect live music, face painting, player signings and giveaways, and opportunities to grab a photo with the friendly lion mascot Roary.
On the turf, NSW will be looking for a clean sweep after the previous home game against HC Melbourne didn’t go quite to plan for the women, ending in a shootout loss.
This week is a must-win match for the Pride women to keep their finals hopes alive. The troops have been bolstered with the return of Mariah Williams, Greta Hayes and goalkeeper Jocelyn Bartram.