Although the local hockey season recently came to an end, there is more yet to come for fans as Hockey ACT announced the final squads for the ACT Strikers and the ACT Lakers ahead of the Australian Hockey League (AHL).
The Lakers have included young Queanbeyan local and Old Canberrans Hockey Club player Lewis McLennan in their side, and he took part in their first round loss to Tasmania on Saturday.
The opportunity to play for the ACT was “exciting”, McLennan said.
“I wasn’t quite sure I was going to make the final squad but I put in the hard yard to put myself there and very grateful for the opportunity.”
Of the match, he added that “once we got into the match ,I thought it was quite tight in the third and fourth quarter.
“I think it’s a bit of a learning curve now.”
This year’s edition of the AHL differs dramatically from previous iterations. Instead of playing all matches at a single venue, each team will now play at least one home and one away game from their three matches in the pool stages.
This will be followed by the finals series in the Gold Coast. This year’s competition will take place from October 6 to October 28.
Lakers coach Morgan James said that the new format was “very exciting”.
“We haven’t had AHL here since 2012, I believe, when it was previously a home-and-away arrangement as it is this year.
“The previous two years we’ve had more of a championship arrangement where we’ve gone to Perth both years.
“This’ll be an opportunity for crowds all around the country, including here [in Canberra], to see top-level hockey.”
The Lakers’ 2018 side features eight debutants among the 22 selected players, and James is eager to see what they bring to the table.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys in this year,” James said.
“So that’s balanced by a few of the older heads, internationals like Glenn Turner and Andrew Charter, who are both in the squad.”
The Lakers have also picked up Japanese internationals Manabu Yamashita and Kazuma Murata, while the Strikers welcome Beckie Middleton from the England team and Lena Tice of Ireland.
Both ACT sides will play their first home round on October 14 against QLD.