All the news for Saturday 25 February 2017
SA Women's squad for tests against England
Various changes had to be made to the South African Women’s team that will play two tests against England this Saturday and Sunday.
Both matches will be played in Cape Town at the Hartleyvale stadium and action starts at 16:00.
Coach Sheldon Rostron could not pick regular players like Quanita Bobbs, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs and Shelley Russell because of other commitments. ExperiencedDirkie Chamberlain and Erin Hunter are back in the squad along with goalkeeper Nicole la Fleur.
Various players from the England squad were part of the Great Britain team that won gold at the Rio Olympic Games last year. England has arrived in South Africa with a large training squad including 13 debutants for the country. England is currentlysecond on the world rankings and South Africa is 13th.
In the recent Summer Series against Chile and China the South Africans played some really good hockey and they would like to keep the momentum going against a world-class team like England. Coach Sheldon Rostron has a unique opportunity to use this series as further preparation for the World Cup qualifying Africa Cup of Nations event taking place in August as well as the Hockey World League Semi Finals taking place in July.
The SA squad: Nicole la Fleur (WP), Phumelela Mbande (NG), Marelise van Tonder(NG), Kara Stella (KZN C), Jessica O’Connor (KZN C), Kirsty Adams (Boland), Erin Hunter (KZN C), Izelle Verster (NG), Illse Davids (WP), Nicolene Terblanche (NG), Stephanie Baxter (SG), Marizen Marias (SG), Tarryn Glasby (WP), Bernadette Coston (SG), Sulette Damons (NW), Kate Koenig (KZN C), Candice Manuel (WP), Toni Marks (SG), Dirkie Chamberlain (NG).
SA Hockey Association media release
Weakened Proteas face star-studded England
The South African women's hockey team will have to do without Quanita Bobbs (centre) in Saturday's match against England at Hartleyvale. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
CAPE TOWN - The South African women’s hockey team face an uphill battle when they take on England at Hartleyvale on Saturday in the first of two Test matches.
The match (4pm start) will feature an England outfit made up of most of the victorious Great Britain team which won gold at the Rio Olympics
SA coach Sheldon Rostron has been forced into making numerous changes to the squad due to the unavailability of a few stalwarts. The absence of players such as Quanita Bobbs, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs and Shelley Russell will considerably weaken the squad.
However, SA always knew that these players would be away for this series and the make-up of the squad reflects an element of youth blended with the experience needed to be competitive at this level.
Experienced campaigners Dirkie Chamberlain, Erin Hunter and goalkeeper Nicole la Fleur are back in the squad and their experience will stand SA in good stead.
England have arrived in South Africa with an extended training squad including 13 uncapped players. They are currently ranked second in the world and South Africa is 13th .
In the recent Summer Series against Chile and China the South Africans played some really good hockey and they would like to keep the momentum going against a world-class team like England.
SA squad: Nicole la Fleur (WP), Phumelela Mbande (NG), Marelise van Tonder (NG), Kara Stella (KZN C), Jessica O’Connor (KZN C), Kirsty Adams (Bol), Erin Hunter (KZN C), Izelle Verster (NG), Illse Davids (WP), Nicolene Terblanche (NG), Stephanie Baxter (SG), Marizen Marias (SG), Tarryn Glasby (WP), Bernadette Coston (SG), Sulette Damons (NW), Kate Koenig (KZN C), Candice Manuel (WP), Toni Marks (SG), Dirkie Chamberlain (NG)
The Weekend Argus
Wits and Southern Gauteng midfielder receives national hockey team call-up
Rusten Abrahams (yellow) does the business for Wits on the hockey field.
BRAAMFONTEIN – Wits first-year student Rusten Abrahams makes South Africa's men’s senior national hockey team for upcoming summer series against Germany and England
As the South African men’s senior hockey side prepare to take on the might of Germany and England in the upcoming Cape Town Summer Series starting on 2 March, the star power of Wits and Southern Gauteng midfielder, Rusten Abrahams has been called upon.
Last year, Abrahams was selected for the Wits men’s 1st hockey team that placed fourth at the Varsity Hockey tournament; and was chosen for the senior Southern Gauteng B team that competed in the A-section at the inter-provincial national tournament. He also played in the Premier Hockey League (PHL) team, Every Sun Addo Elephants, that featured in the inaugural PHL tournament held in September last year.
In a conversation with City Buzz, Abrahams, who is a first year Bachelor of Health Sciences student at Wits, described the moment he received the call-up to the national side as being ‘unforgettable’. He said, “I was making my way to a friend when I received the call from the head coach, Fabian Gregory. He notified me of my selection to the national men’s team for the upcoming series. I was left speechless [by] the news and was in utter disbelief [given] the amazing opportunity extended to me.”
He recalled some of his earliest memories of playing hockey with friends on grass fields for fun. Since then, the midfielder has made incredible strides. “Various coaches such a Jean de Wilde, who was a key developer and motivator in my early high school years; and Mark Ray, who was my coach at Krugersdorp High School have inspired me over the years,” he said.
“My main inspiration, however, is Alistair Fredericks, who has a long list of accolades such as being the first player of colour to make the South African men’s senior team and played in prestigious tournaments such as the Hockey World Cup and the Olympic Games. Alistair has become a huge mentor for me throughout my high school and varsity years.”
He added that his experience of the past year at the Wits Hockey Club has propelled his game forward given the multiple opportunities he was given to thrive against the best opposition in South African hockey. “These challenges pushed me to grow many aspects of my game. I was also given opportunities to represent my province in outdoor and indoor hockey.
“All these challenges helped me to push myself to reach my goals such as being called up to the national men’s indoor team and now the national men’s outdoor team. The Wits Hockey Club and staff have really helped me to get to where I am today.”
Canadian men aiming higher as World Cup qualification kicks off with World League
In just over a month, Canada’s men’s field hockey team will play in its first competition of the year.
And despite the lengthy layoff since their last games – which came at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil last August – World League Round 2 (March 25 to April 2 in Tacarigua, Trinidad and Tobago) also comes with major importance.
The top two finishers of the tournament move on to World League Round 3 this summer, where teams will compete for spots at the 2018 World Cup in India.
And Canada’s Men’s National Team could not be more ready to hit the field, after a long Canadian winter.
“We’ve had a little bit of trouble with the weather cooperating, which has been a bit of a factor,” says goaltender Antoni Kindler. “But I think we’re confident, we’ve got enough time here to get prepared.”
“We would have loved to have played a few more games, but that’s the reality of the situation. We’re doing our best to take that first step towards World League 3.”
What they’re also trying to do is take a step forward from what the team accomplished in the previous quadrennial.
In 2016, the Canadian men returned to the Olympic Games after missing out on the 2012 Games in London, and by the end of the year had increased their world ranking to 11th, which is where it stands now.
But despite that, the team wants more.
“We understand in our group we’re more than capable of qualifying,” says forward Matthew Sarmento. “So the goal is excelling at the World Cup and challenging for a better spot than we did at Rio.”
Canada finished 11th out of 12 teams in Rio, which is in line with it’s world ranking, however, they expected better, and look at 2017 and beyond as a way to prove that they deserve it.
“There’s definitely a bit of added expectation,” Kindler adds. “We know what we’re capable of. We’ve had some key retirements from some role players on our team, but at the same time it’s kind of exciting, because it means its an opportunity for new guys to take on those roles.”
With his experience at the Olympics and the departure of some key veterans – with the likes of Benjamin Martin, David Jameson, Jagidsh Gill, Philip Wright, and Stephen Bissett retiring – Sarmento looks at himself as one of the guys that can take on a bigger role.
“We feel that we under-performed at Rio and we think that being put up against the best in the world, we can do better than 11th place,” he says. “So we definitely want to improve on that.”
Canada’s World League Round 2 begins on March 25, 2017 at 1:15pm (local time in Tacarigua) against the United States.
For Canada’s full schedule, results, and recaps, click here.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Field Hockey Alum Swaps UConn Blue for Irish Green
Former UConn standout Roisin Upton '16 (ED) swings at the ball during a game against Hong Kong in South Africa in January. Since graduating, Upton traded her UConn blue jersey for the green of the Irish National Team.
Former Husky field hockey standout Roisin Upton ’16 (ED) has traded her UConn blue jersey for the green of the Irish National Field Hockey Team.
Since she began playing field hockey in her hometown of Limerick, she had always dreamed of playing for the ‘Green Army.’ And now she is living her dream.
This winter, she is coming off her first big international tournament as a member of the Irish team. Ireland won the World League 2 tournament in Malaysia in January, earning its spot in World League 3 and inching closer to a bid in the 2018 World Cup. With Upton onboard, the team is ready to make a run.
“It’s a great feeling, getting to put on a green jersey,” says Upton. “I got a warm welcome into the speed and intensity of the international game in January, and it was a great start to a huge year for us as a squad.”
Upton scored a hat trick against Singapore in the World League 2 quarterfinals, as part of a 10-0 win for Ireland. She also scored a goal against Hong Kong in pool play, her first international goal.
The Irish team has a busy stretch coming, with World League 3 looming in July. But even before that, Upton will be able to gain more international playing experience.
“We’re gearing up for World League 3 in South Africa in July,” she says, “but we also have a couple of series in the coming weeks in England, Germany – and in May, the U.S. – in preparation for the World Cup qualifier.”
Upton’s club team, Cork Harlequins, is also nearing the end of its season with each team looking for a spot in the final four weekend.
A two-time First Team All-American at UConn, Upton is used to a hectic playing schedule. “UConn gave me an incredibly unique experience,” she says. “At UConn, you’re treated as close to a professional athlete as a hockey player will ever be. Our coaches Nancy, Paul, and Cheri enhanced my work ethic and understanding of the game. I left UConn having gained so much.”
Nancy Stevens is the Huskies’ head coach for field hockey; Paul Caddy is the associate head coach, and Cheri Schulz is the assistant coach.
During her time at UConn, Upton helped the Huskies win national championships in 2013 and 2014 – the third and fourth in program history (they previously won the championship in 1981 and 1985).
UConn also helped prepare the two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year for life off the field, which she is planning out carefully.
“Hockey in Ireland is not full-time, so at the moment, I’m working for my brother with his Analytic Design company,” Upton says. “And I’ll be applying for master’s programs in the coming months. All of the girls on the squad juggle some mix of full-time jobs, college work, and hockey.”
With a full plate of hockey, work, and graduate school applications, Upton has a busy spring and summer schedule coming up – and she wouldn’t have it any other way, as she continues to live her dream.
Top four teams ready for Semi Final face-off
Chandigarh: The stage is set for an exciting day of hockey as the Semi Finals of the fifth edition of Coal India Hockey India League gets underway with a clash between Kalinga Lancers and Uttar Pradesh Wizards here at the Chandigarh Hockey Stadium in Sector 42. This match will be followed by the second Semi Final between table toppers Dabang Mumbai and Delhi Waveriders.
The top four teams will not only play for pride, honour and the trophy but they will also be vying to win the handsome cash reward of Rs 2.50 Crores will be up for grabs for the winner of the Coal India Hockey India League 2017. The 2017 Tournament total prize money of Rs 6,01,00,000 is being awarded for 11 different categories throughout the tournament.
While the Kalinga Lancers, having finished the pool stage in second position on points table have been a dominant team this season, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards are determined and eager to make it to their first ever Final in the history of the league. Uttar Pradesh Wizards’ best performance so far has been a third-place finish in 2013. Though they did make the last four in the first three seasons, a pulsating 9-8 defeat in the shootout to Ranchi Rays kept them out of the Final in 2015. “Our first aim was to make it to the Semi Finals. Now that we have achieved it, we want to make this opportunity count and qualify for the Final. We are probably the only team who has made it to the Semi Finals maximum number of times but not made the Final. The winning formula against Kalinga Lancers will be simple – stick to the strategies given to us by the Coach and execute it through the game. League stage was a different ball game and our approach to the semis will be different,” stated Uttar Pradesh Wizards skipper V.R Raghunath.
The team, under the watchful eyes of Roelant Oltmans, trained one last time on Friday to fine tune their skills and work out specific plans for Mark Hager’s squad which includes players like German stalwart Moritz Fuerste, Glenn Turner and Dutchman Billy Bakker who bring great variety and quality to their defence, which is Kalinga Lancers strong point. The Bhubaneswar-based franchise had made it to the Semi-Finals last year ahead of Dabang Mumbai only because of goal difference, and then won a shootout against Ranchi Rays, before losing 6-1 in the final to the Jaypee Punjab Warriors. “That was a bitter loss because we had played very well through the season but lost out because of one bad day on the field. We didn’t play our natural game but this year, we are stronger and have had a good week-long training session here in Chandigarh. The team is fresh and upbeat for the Semi Final and we are looking forward to a good contest,” expressed Fuerste, Captain of Kalinga Lancers.
The second Semi Final between Dabang Mumbai led by the ever-inspiring German Florian Fuchs will take on Delhi Waveriders, who after a slow start made remarkable comeback in the league with some fine victories against defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Kalinga Lancers and Uttar Pradesh Wizards that ensured a Semi Final spot. “Though Delhi Waveriders didn’t get off to a great start nor did they lose games by big margins, they have managed to turn things around for themselves with some inspiring performances. But having said that, our team is very confident especially after winning some good games where we have come back in the last 15 minutes to win. As a franchise, this is the first time Dabang Mumbai is playing in a Semi Final and the mood in the team is upbeat and everyone is excited to play the Semi Final,” said Florian Fuchs.
Delhi Waveriders, on the other hand, would be hoping to keep up their winning ways despite a loss in their previous game to Ranchi Rays. They will be heavily banking on defender Iain Lewers, midfielder Harjeet Singh and Austrian Benjamin Stanzl to provide a good supply toGerman Niklas Wellen, Mandeep Singh and Parvinder Singh in the forwardline. “I think we played well in the last 15 minutes against Ranchi Rays but we had conceded too many goals to make a comeback. We can’t afford to make the kind of mistakes we did in the league stage. Dabang Mumbai have been very consistent this season and we need to make sure we don’t miss out on the chances we create. The beauty of the tournament is such that you can’t predict which team will pull off a win and I am sure it will be an exciting outing of hockey on Saturday,” stated India’s ace drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, also the skipper of Delhi Waveriders.
The Winning team of the fifth edition of Coal India Hockey India League will be awarded a cash prize of Rs 2.50 Crores while the runners-up will be presented with Rs 1.25 Crores, second runner-up will win a cash prize of Rs 75 Lakhs.
The Coal India Most Valuable Player of the Tournament will walk away with a cash prize of Rs 50 Lakhs.
Winner of the Ponty Chadha Upcoming Player of the Tournament will win Rs 20 Lakhs.
Winner of the Dhruv Batra Maximum Goals Award will win Rs 20 Lakhs.
The Hero Achiever of the Tournament will win Rs 10 Lakhs.
The Coal India Goal of the Match (34 matches) wins Rs 50,000/- per match
The Man Of Match (34 matches) wins Rs 50,000/- per match
The Airtel Most Entertaining Player of the Match (34 matches) wins Rs 25,000/- per match
The Hero Young Achiever of the Match (34 matches) wins Rs 25,000/- per match
Semi Finals 1 & 2 on 25th Febrary 2017
SF 1 – Kalinga Lancers Vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards at 16.50hrs
SF 2 – Dabang Mumbai Vs Delhi Waveriders at 19.20hrs
3/4th Place Play Off & Final on 26th February 2017
Loser SF1 Vs Loser SF2 at 16.50hrs
Winner SF1 Vs Winner SF2 at 19.20hrs
Official HIL site
HIL semis: Mumbai, Kalinga seem the best bets
Dabang Mumbai players during a practice session at the Sector 42 stadium in Chandigarh on Friday. Tribune photo: Vicky Gharu.
Chandigarh: After a month of city-hopping and desperation-filled duels for the knockout slots, the dust has finally settled with the four most deserving teams left standing.
The multinational hockey festival has finally landed in Chandigarh, but the home team will not be in contention. Punjab Warriors, the defending champions, crashed out of the tournament, having finished last in the pool stage. While the trophy will shift hands this year, there is a big probability that this year’s edition will throw up first-time champions.
Among the semifinalists, only Delhi Waveriders are former winners; and while Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Kalinga Lancers have made it to the knockout stage earlier, Dabang Mumbai have made it this far for the first time in the league’s five editions.
Mumbai have done it in style, finishing at the top of the table, seven points ahead of second-placed Kalinga. Mumbai, who have been solid in defence and arguably the most cohesive in their attacks, will face an equally attacking Delhi. Just like Mumbai, the former champions have a young and vibrant forward line. But their defence has been a drawback, a big reason why they qualified in the last position.
Mumbai, on the other hand, seem reinvented in their defence. But it’s their fighting spirit that has been secret to their success. On various occasions, Mumbai have managed to come back from the dead to either salvage a draw or pull off a win.
“Though Delhi didn’t get off to a great start, they have managed to turn things around for themselves with some inspiring performances. But our team is very confident, especially after winning some good games where we have come back in the last 15 minutes to win,” said Mumbai captain Florian Fuchs.
“I think we played well in the last 15 minutes against Ranchi Rays but we had conceded too many goals to make a comeback,” said Rupinder Pal Singh, the Delhi skipper. “We can’t afford to make the kind of mistakes we did in the league stage. Mumbai have been very consistent this season and we need to make sure we don’t miss out on the chances we create.”
UP vs Kalinga
The other semifinal is likely to be a battle of attrition. Wizards, looking to enter their first final, have also been an attacking force. But their low conversion rate has made life difficult for the Roelant Oltmans-coached side, who have been one of more cohesive units. They will be pushed by Kalinga, who are last year’s finalists. Kalinga, though not the most attractive teams, have been disciplined and gritty, and they have been inconspicuously efficient in getting favourable results.
Kalinga had made it to the semifinals last year ahead of Dabang Mumbai because of goal difference, and they went on to lose 1-6 in the final.
“That was a bitter loss because we had played very well through the season but lost out because of one bad day on the field,” said Moritz Fuerste, Kalinga’s captain. “We didn’t play our natural game but this year, we are stronger and have had a good week-long training session here in Chandigarh. The team is fresh and upbeat for the semifinal and we are looking forward to a good contest.”
Dabang, Wizards look to make maiden finals
When Dabang Mumbai takes the field against Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League here on Saturday evening, it will hope to carry its form from the league stage.
Delhi will bank on all its experience of the big stage even though it has struggled this season, knowing well that the league results do not matter now.
Cedric D’Souza’s boys will hope to find their rhythm against the one team that has destroyed every opposition over the last month. For that, they have to make sure the defence remains compact, and Mandeep Singh, often left alone in the attack, has enough support.
A return to form for captain Rupinderpal Singh in penalty corners will be a bonus.
“We can’t afford to make the kind of mistakes we did in the league stage. We need to make sure we don’t miss out on the chances we create,” Rupinderpal said.
Mumbai has never reached this stage earlier, but became the first team to book a semifinal spot this time.
In the other semifinal, Uttar Pradesh Wizards takes on Kalinga Lancers in a battle between two of the best defensive sides.
Wizards will look to its drag-flick battery of V.R. Raghunath and Gonzalo Peillat to score, and the attack of Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Ajay Yadav has been impressive in recent games.
But the team’s biggest strength is its goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh, who has single-handedly kept them in the competition.
Last year’s runner-up Kalinga too is raring to go a step further. Built around Moritz Fuerste, Glenn Turner and Billy Bakker, Kalinga has conceded the maximum goals but also scored the second-highest.
The schedule: Semifinals: Kalinga Lancers vs Uttar Pradesh Wizards (4.30 p.m.), Dabang Mumbai vs Delhi Waveriders (7 p.m.).
Why are drag-flickers firing blanks?
The absence of Sandeep Singh, the top-scorer in two of the four HIL editions he played, has coincided with a decline in short-corner conversions this year. Photo Credit: Manob Chowdhury
Penalty corner specialists have struggled this HIL season and have two days to get it right
For quite a few years now, international hockey has revolved around the penalty corner (PC). Most top teams base their strategies on earning PCs and converting them through world-class specialists.
The ongoing season of the Hockey India League (HIL), however, has seen sides pursuing field goals. The reason is two-fold: every field goal counts as two; more importantly, some of the biggest names in drag-flick have struggled.
Consider this: last year, three of the top five scorers were penalty corner experts. In this edition, with the league phase done, the only one who has made any impact is German legend Moritz Fuerste. The rest — Ashley Jackson (England, Ranchi Rays), Gonzalo Peillat (Argentina, UP Wizards), V.R. Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and even Fuerste’s teammate Gurjinder Singh — have disappointed. The highest scorer among the recognised specialists is junior India player Harmanpreet Singh, with seven goals.
There are several explanations floating around.
“There are many reasons,” says Ranchi coach Harendra Singh. “For one, most of these big players have not been in action competitively since the Rio Olympics. However much you train, match practice is different. I think Jackson isn’t firing due a combination of too much top-level hockey for the first half last year and then almost none in the next.”
The players themselves insist there isn’t much wrong with their effort, but admit the results haven’t followed. “Yes, it is a disappointment, more so since my defensive duties haven’t been affected,” says Rupinder. “There are some variations I am trying. Not scoring is something I am concerned about, but this is also a platform where you can try new things and use them with the National team. I guess that’s also one of the reasons.”
The player-of-the-tournament in 2016, Rupinder has scored just four in the league phase. Peillat has managed to convert just one, as has Jackson. Raghunath has managed two but failed a lot more. Others, like Trent Mitton and Jeremy Hayward, haven’t got any so far.
Mumbai coach Jay Stacy believes it has more to do with improved penalty corner defences. “I don’t think anything is going wrong with those who are attempting PCs. I think the defence is getting a lot better, there is more focus now,” he reasons.
The team that has suffered the most is Uttar Pradesh Wizards. With both Raghunath and Peillat in its ranks, the team has the strongest battery of PC experts but couldn’t make it count. Peillat, in particular, was nowhere close to replicating his form from the past two years, when he repeatedly ended up as the top-scorer at major competitions, including the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.
Raghunath feels the margins have reduced for the flickers. “Goalkeepers have studied us very well and it is not easy,” he says. Goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh says, “PC defence has changed a lot. The first rusher has become very good. The scoring angles have been cut down drastically.”
The one player oblivious of all this is Fuerste. The German veteran, who quit international hockey after winning the bronze in Rio, has showed amazing accuracy at Kalinga Lancers. “That’s because he is not as regular a flicker as the rest and his style also is very different to others,” both Sreejesh and Raghunath say. “It’s the specialists who are struggling.”
India coach Roelant Oltmans feels Fuerste has the added advantage of experience. “He is not a regular and not as fast as some others, but he is a very, very clever player. And, of course, he has this huge experience behind him,” Oltmans says, adding that while one-in-three is acceptable in international competitions, with improved defence at the highest level, sometimes even one-in-four — or 25% — is par for the course.
For the rest, however, it is time to get their act together. Saturday’s semifinals and Sunday’s final will prove unforgiving otherwise.
Hoofdklasse returns with major new broadcast shows
The Hoofdklasse returns on Sunday with Ziggo Sport and NOS set to provide a large increase in coverage of the Dutch elite league.
Ziggo Sport will broadcast the game between HGC and Den Bosch from 2pm (CET) on Sunday afternoon while there will be a new highlights show at 10.30pm (CET) which will feature all the men’s and women’s highlights of the weekend. NOS, meanwhile, will provide an hour-long show on Sunday evening from 6pm to 7pm (CET).
There are a series of marquee games on offer. On the men's side, EHL-duo AH&BC Amsterdam and SV Kampong meet in the Wagener Stadium on Sunday with the former looking to strengthen their place in second while Kampong are playing catch-up in sixth place.
Both sides will miss star men, making the tie a tough one to predict. Billy Bakker, Justin Reid-Ross, Sander de Wijn, David Harte and Robbert Kemperman are all in the Hockey India League semi-finals.
But Amsterdam will have Fergus Kavanagh and Mirco Pruyser back from the HIL having missed out on the playoffs with their franchises.
Oranje-Rood, fifth, host Rotterdam, third, in another high quality encounter. Like the other match, both will miss players because of the HIL with Adam Dixon, Seve van Ass (both Rotterdam), Benjamin Stanzl and Agustin Mazzilli (Oranje-Rood) out but Rob van der Horst and Mink van der Weerden are available.
Den Bosch, fourth, will aim to keep up their impressive start to the campaign against HGC who are in seventh but just two points off the playoff places. Den Bosch, though, will miss Austin Smith and Kieran Govers at the HIL.
Leaders Bloemendaal have six points to spare over the rest of the table and they will anticipate they can strengthen that position when they play Pinoke.
Bloemendaal’s Roel Bovendeert is out for the rest of the season while Wouter Jolie and Florian Fuchs are in India but they should have too much in the tank.
There are also key games at the bottom with Almere facing Qui Vive and Hurley playing Tilburg.
Euro Hockey League media release
Legends of the EHL: Jeroen Hertzberger
Euro Hockey League Legend Jeroen Hertzberger is ambitious that he can create goalscoring record that can never be beaten if he can help his Rotterdam side qualify for the EHL on a couple more occasions.
The striker is currently top of the EHL scoring charts, three clear of German star Marco Miltkau, on 35 after the first nine completed seasons.
All of them have come with Rotterdam with whom he has signed “a contract for life” and he is keen to see the Dutch club get back into the EHL so he can add to his huge tally of goals.
Aged 21, Hertzberger was one of the first marquee stars of the EHL, scoring in each round of the competition in the inaugural season in 2007/08, starting off with a hugely competitive ROUND1 tie against Atletic Terrassa.
He netted against Scotland’s Grange, nabbed a hat trick against the Waterloo Ducks in a 6-1 KO16 win and then added a crucial goal in a 3-2 win over Reading in the KO8. Their bid for the title came to an end at the FINAL4 stage, falling 7-4 to HGC, but bounced back to beat Club Egara in the third place playoff in front of a home crowd in Rotterdam in a shoot-out.
Reflecting on that first season, he remembers it as a ground-breaking moment for hockey.
“We performed well and it was actually one of the first leagues where TV really upgraded their broadcasting. Many cameras around just made it special.
“It was the first time hockey players really felt like professionals. It contributed to players taking their hockey career more seriously.”
One of the features of the Rotterdam was that Jeroen played in the same team as his brothers Willem and Maurits. It is one of the special things about the EHL, playing in the best club competition in the world but representing your local area and your family roots.
“We have all been captain of the Rotterdam team and it felt great being able to spend so much time with my brothers for all those years. It felt normal because we had done it all our life. But now, looking back, it is very unique and special.”
It is one of the elements that keeps the club so close to Jeroen’s heart.
“Everything about Rotterdam appeals to me. The members, the people that run the bar/restaurant, the board and also the families around the players. Everything is great and it is simply a second home.
“I have always, and still, had the feeling that Rotterdam is the place where I can become the best possible hockey player. They have helped me to become the player i am now. I believe in loyalty above all else, and that why I signed for life!”
As such, it made for a special occasion when the club was awarded the rights to host the EHL FINAL4 in year one. That they could not claim the overall title, though, meant there were bittersweet emotions.
“That was amazing. I don’t think we ever had that many spectators ever since. For us, it was disappointing because many of our internationals had to leave before the finals. But it did give me the chance to step up but cost us a potential victory.”
Indeed, the Holy Grail would prove painfully out of reach for Hertzberger despite the number of goals he would score. Another bronze followed in the 2008/09 season, knocking out AH&BC Amsterdam in the KO8 only to fall to Bloemendaal in the FINAL4. They thumped Dragons 8-1 to win third.
2009/10 proved their best ever season, claiming the silver medal. Hertzberger reflects on the FINAL4 win over Amsterdam as a major highlight of his EHL career.
“That was definitely a great game for us. Amsterdam are great rivals and to beat them like that at their ground was amazing. Another game that comes to mind was our KO16 game against Uhlenhost Mulheim. We went up 4-0 and they came back to force shoot outs. The shoot outs are something special for us because we did well from the start of that new rule.”
That latter journey in 2011 ultimately ended in a fourth place finish, meaning there was to be no fourth EHL medal for the star striker.
Nonetheless, he is confident that he and Rotterdam will make a comeback in the competition and deliver glory in the coming few seasons, potentially with an improved record to his name.
Speaking about the situation, he says: “I haven’t played in the EHL for three years and it really frustrates me. When I signed for life at Rotterdam, my goal was to get Rotterdam back to the top of Holland and Europe. You will not see a more motivated player around the Hoofdklasse fields than me as I try to get my club back where they belong!
“If I can play another two or three seasons in the EHL, I think I can set a goal record that will never be beaten. That is something to be proud of!”
Euro Hockey League media release