Zac Caldwell in action for Dalefield. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV
By Gary Caffell
A further chapter has been written in Dalefield’s fairytale rise in men’s hockey circles.
They have won the inaugural Conference Cup competition, contested by eight teams representing three different associations — Capital, Central and Midlands — to add to their first ever Wellington premier division title in 2015 which they successfully defended in 2016.
Dalefield and Hutt were the two Capital representatives and it was Hutt who were firm favourites to take the cup when going into their last match against Mid Central in Levin.
Dalefield had completed their programme by then and were sitting on 18pts, just 1pt ahead of Hutt who were considered near certainties to leap frog them by winning their final game.
However, Mid Central had other ideas and blitzed Hutt 5-2 to hand Dalefield the cup on a platter.
Dalefield coach Willie Schaefer admitted news of his team’s success came as a surprise as, like everybody else, he had expected Hutt to finish on top but he was delighted to be proved wrong.
“It’s great, I mean we went into this having very little idea what to expect, other than the fact we would get good games against quality opposition.”
News of their win is perfectly timed for Dalefield as this Saturday they will confront none other than Hutt at the National Hockey Stadium in the first round of top four playoff matches in this season’s Wellington premier division competition.
It is a crucial game for both sides as the winner will progress straight through to the grand final on August 12 while the loser will have to beat the successful team in this weekend’s encounter between the third and fourth seeded sides on August 5 to join them there.
The Dane Lett-captained Dalefield went through the qualifying rounds undefeated, winning nine and drawing five of their 14 games with two of the draws coming against Hutt (3-3 and 2-2).
However, it was Hutt who took the top qualifying position with 11 wins and three draws.
Meanwhile, the Dalefield women’s team will have home advantage when they meet Harbour City in the first round of their Wellington premier division top four playoff matches on Saturday, starting at Clareville 4.15pm.
Dalefield and Harbour City have clashed twice in preliminary round action this season with both teams having a win apiece and the scoreline being 3-1 on each occasion.
However, when the whole season is considered, Dalefield have the better record of the two, albeit only just.
They have recorded 12 wins, one draw and one loss to Harbour City’s 11 wins, one draw and two losses.