If the Bay of Plenty under-18 boys' team are anything to go by, the future of hockey in the region is bright.

At last week's national under-18 tournament in North Harbour they finished fourth, after a narrow loss to eventual winners Wellington in the semifinals before going down 2-0 to South Canterbury in the third-place playoff.

Meanwhile, Bay of Plenty's under-18 girls' finished ninth in a highly competitive tournament, beating Waikato 3-1 in the ninth placed playoff.

The boys' assistant coach Paul Wyllie said for the team to be fourth in the country was "absolutely" a good achievement.


"We went away with the intention of being in the top four and achieved that, which was quite impressive considering the young team we've got.

"Only one of our players is unavailable next year because of age."

He said the team did well to get through some "tough games" in pool play.

Bay of Plenty under-18 hockey players charge out to block a penalty corner during the national under-18 tournament. Photo / Supplied
Bay of Plenty under-18 hockey players charge out to block a penalty corner during the national under-18 tournament. Photo / Supplied

"We drew with Canterbury, who ended up losing the final to Wellington, and we also drew with Wairarapa, who were a strong team as well. Both of those games were 2-all. It was a really tough pool and we managed to fight our way out of it in second place."

In the quarter-finals, Bay of Plenty and Waikato produced a thriller.

"It was 1-all at the end of regulation time. Then we went into drop-offs - where you basically lose your goal keeper and an outfield player to make it nine-on-nine for five minutes. If there's still no deciding goal it goes to seven-on-seven for five minutes, then a shootout.

16 Jul, 2018 4:00pm
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17 Jul, 2018 10:00am
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"One of our young guys Dan Ford managed to score 14 seconds into extra time with a brilliant individual effort. They basically tried to gang tackle him at the top of the circle, after he'd run half the field, he and the ball managed to pop out the other side and he was probably half a metre from the baseline when he dived, stopped it going out and slapped it into the goal.

"Dan was the vice-captain. A lot of the boys look to him in those crucial moments, and he came up big," Wyllie said.

The semifinal against Wellington also went into a drop-off, after finishing scoreless at the end of regulation time.

"It was still 0-all after the first period of extra time so we went into seven-on-seven.

"Unfortunately, five seconds from the end, they were awarded a penalty stroke for a foot in the circle, which they converted to win.

"The boys were pretty distraught after that because it meant so much to them. They achieved so much during the tournament and to be so close against the eventual winners was hard. Eventually, they realised what they had done was phenomenal anyway and it was still the best game they played all tournament."

Wyllie said the side's performance boded well for the future and six or seven players had put their hands up for Midlands selection.