Dalefield’s Benedict van Woerkom, left, on the ball against Naenae. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

By Gary Caffell

Dalefield have made a flying start to their Conference Cup men’s hockey campaign.

Goals came thick and fast as they hammered a Mid Central West team purportedly including the best players from the Taranaki, Whanganui and Horowhenua areas at Whanganui on Sunday by a resounding 9-2 margin.

Dalefield are one of two teams representing Capital in a competition which replaces the old Central Hockey League.

Hutt is the other and they are joined by three teams from the Central region, Mid Central West, Mid Central East (Hawke’s Bay) and Mid Central (Manawatu) and two from Midlands, Midlands East and Midlands West.

For Dalefield, Sunday’s match was very much a case of entering unknown territory as they had little, or no, knowledge of the composition or quality of the opposing side with coach Willie Schaefer saying the emphasis was all about focusing on their own game.

In the opening stanzas, it was pretty much even with Dalefield scoring an early goal and Mid Central West equalising soon after but the further the game progressed the more dominant Dalefield became.

Just 24 hours earlier, Dalefield had beaten Naenae 6-1 in a Wellington premier division match, an impressive enough scoreline — but one which could have been much bigger in their favour had they made anything like the most of their scoring opportunities.

Against Mid Central West though, it was an entirely different story with most their prime scoring chances being turned into goals.

“We talked about the need to have a harder mindset in the attacking circle, and we certainly had that,” Schaefer said.

“We scored a lot of really nice goals and hopefully we can keep that trend going in future games.”

In what was only his second game for Dalefield this season, 17-year-old Rathkeale College pupil Nathan Whiteman was one of Dalefield’s best.

Playing at striker he was a constant thorn in the side of the Mid Central West defences with his speed and determination.

Also doing grand work up front for Dalefield were Zac Hardie and the Finlayson brothers, Nick and Hamish, while the Lett brothers, Dane and Trent, both showed excellent composure in scoring from penalty corners and were typically solid in all other areas of their game.

The next three rounds of the Conference Cup series will be played in Napier over Queen’s Birthday weekend.