Hockey: Auckland stamps mark on NHL

Defending champions Auckland were in ominous form in both the men's and women's competition's in today's opening round of the National Hockey League.

The Auckland women showed why they are again favourites to take the K Cup as they demolished Northland 7-1 in Whangarei. Leading 4-0 at the break, Auckland continued their domination in the second spell with former Black Stick Jan Rowsell controlling the midfield.

The women's feature match of the day was in Hamilton, where Midlands and North Harbour were all square at 1-1 at fulltime leaving the match requiring a penalty shootout. The shootout was even at 4-4 before North Harbour's Carli Michelsen was pushed wide with her effort and Shiloh Gloyn knocked in the winner for the home side.

In Wellington, the home side Capital held out a fast-finishing Central team to take a 3-2 win. Capital took a 3-0 lead in the second spell before late goals to player-coach Caryn Paewai and Michaela Curtis gave Central a chance, but Capital managed to hold on for the win.

In the final women's game, Canterbury had a comfortable 4-1 victory over Southern in Timaru with Olivia Merry knocking in a hat trick.

The Auckland men, joint champions with Central last year, went three better than their female counterparts as they thrashed Northland 10-0 in their defence of the Challenge Shield.

Up just 2-0 at halftime, the Aucklanders put their foot down in the second spell with Tom Wickham, Dwayne Rowsell and Alex Shaw playing strongly.

Midlands men looked like the other form team of the league as they claimed a comprehensive 3-1 win over a young North Harbour side in Hamilton. Kookaburra Tim Deavin made a quick turnaround after his bronze medal effort at the Olympics to lead the midfield for Midlands.

In other men's games, Capital won 4-2 at home against joint defending champions Central in a fast, open game. The goal of the match came late in the second half when Todd Gould buried the ball into the net after a lovely pass from Jake Smith.

Canterbury also started the NHL with a 3-1 win over neighbours Southern in Timaru with Trent Summers knocking in two goals.

NHL action continues tomorrow with round two matches at North Harbour, Auckland, Levin and Dunedin.

- APNZ

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