The 2017 hockey season is set to start

Nhill's Shanaye Alexander. Picture: Samantha Camarri

Nhill's Shanaye Alexander. Picture: Samantha Camarri

The first round of the Wimmera Hockey Association begins with Dimboola Roos taking on the Horsham Jets in the women’s division on Friday.  

The game will be played from 7pm on the artificial turf at the Dimboola Health and Fitness Centre in a match-up that always delivers a close and exciting game.

The Jets were not far behind the top two teams last season and would like nothing more than to get one up on the reigning premier.

This game will be followed by the Dimboola Burras taking on the Horsham Hurricanes in the open competition in a game that could go either way.

Since winning its one and only premiership in 2011, the Dimboola men’s team has remained a serious contender in the finals, but have not been able to complete the final step into another grand final.

Early wins this season will take the pressure off later in the season.

The Hurricanes have lacked consistency in recent seasons – often following a big game with a lacklustre performance.

A first-up win would do wonders for the side’s confidence and its chances of being in the top four by the end of the season.

The action on Saturday commences with three evenly matched under-16 games, with the Horsham Bombers taking on the Dimboola Roos.  

The Bombers won three games last season – their best performance for several years – but they also came close to getting the points on a number of other occasions.  

If they can put their best team on the field this week, this will be a very close game. 

The Nhill Leopards dominated the under-16 competition last year, but the Warrack Revengers were not too far behind, so this should be another close game.

The game between the Kaniva Raiders and the Yanac Warriors will see another two evenly matched teams meet, with either team capable of taking the points on the day.

The Nhill Thunderbirds and the Warrack Women fought it out during the closing rounds of 2016 for the last place in the finals.

They will meet again at 3pm in the first of the women’s games.  

Both teams will have some new faces so it is difficult to predict a winner.

The Kaniva Women face the daunting task of taking on the Yanac Women, who finished well ahead on the ladder at the end of last season but did not taste victory in the grand final.

Once the lights are turned on in the evening, the Warrack Hoops will encounter a confident Nhill Rangers team which climbed from the bottom of the ladder late last season.

The round concludes with what is always a tight game when the Yanac Tigers take on the Kaniva Cobras.  

While the Tigers have an impressive finals record, the Cobras have always struggled late in the season.

This may be the year for them to take the next step and prove that they can be a force towards the end of the season.  

Taking on the reigning premiers first up will give them a good indication of where they stand and what they will need to do over the following fourteen rounds.

The three under-12 games will be played at 12.30pm on Saturday.