Cooloola Heat fall agonisingly short of grand final showdown
HOCKEY: The Cooloola Heat fell agonisingly short of a grand final dream this year, going down 3-0 to Caloundra last weekend and leaving them to lament what could have been.
In a season brought down by the COVID-19 pandemic before it could even begin, the Heat went through two pre-seasons and went on to finish an impressive second on the Sunshine Coast competition table heading into finals.
With top team Flinders waiting on the semi final winner, Player/coach Dom Stephens said the Heat had squandered a golden opportunity.
“Flinders went straight through to the final and we’d beaten them convincingly twice this season, which was a little bit hard to cop on Sunday but that’s the way it is,” Stephens said.
“We had a pretty successful year overall really.
“Once the season got underway, it was pretty much normal, I found it to be one of our better seasons because people didn’t have personal commitments … we were able to put the same team on the field most weeks.
“I think we’d write the season off as a success. Obviously our goal was to make the final and win the final but we just fell short at that last little hurdle.”
Stephens said the Heat had done well to adapt to the unusual circumstances of the season, which meant playing more games in less time to squeeze the fixtures in.
“It was a little bit different,” he said.
“We did our pre-season and then the first game scheduled was when lockdown came in, we’d done a two month pre-season and then we were off for about two months, maybe a bit longer.
“We basically had to do another little pre-season and then they jammed as many games as they could in to try and salvage the season.
“They did a really good job of doing it, we had a few midweek games to play.”
Stephens touted Harrison Parker and Ben Hyde as two of the Heat’s most consistent performers throughout 2020, but said an impressive young brigade were a sign of strong seasons ahead.
“Everyone really stepped up to the mark, we had some young guys like Connor Innes (14) really step up, and then some other young guys having some breakout seasons,” he said.
“It was a really good sign leading into next year.
“The biggest thing will be getting that same squad back, maybe add a couple more guys. If we can do that we’ll be well on the way to achieving our goal of taking out the comp.”
The Heat are out of action until next March, but the Flinders vs Caloundra matchup will be livestreamed on our website tomorrow.
Here’s the grand final livestreaming schedule:
Saturday, September 26:
Division 3 women
11am – Caboolture v Flinders
Division 3 men
12.30pm – Buderim v Maroochydore
Division 2 women
2.15pm – Flinders v Maroochydore Gold
Division 2 men
3.45pm – Nambour v Flinders
Division 1 women
5.30pm – Nambour v Buderim
Division 1 men
7pm – Flinders v Caloundra
Gympie Hockey Grand Final Results
Under 11: Panthers 4 defeated Blades 3
Under 13: Thundersticks 3 defeated Hot Shots 2
Youth: Hot Shots 3 defeated Panthers 0
Women’s: Black 3 defeated Dore and Webb Lawyers 2
Men’s: Gympie Radiology 1 defeated Koala Accounting 0