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Reigning champions have point to prove

Ready to win again: Last years premier champions Matthew Hotchkis of Central Hockey Club and Emma Mathieson of St Patrick’s (front) with team representatives. Photo: Elesa KurtzThey’re the reigning champions who have the rest of the Hockey ACT Capital League competition nipping at their heels. While Central is aiming to continue its domination in a vastly different-looking men’s division, St Pat’s women’s team wants to add another piece of silverware to last year’s breakthrough success. Central begins its title defence when it takes on St Pat’s at the National Hockey Centre on Saturday, while St Pat’s has the bye in the women’s competition. Having won five of the past six premierships, Central will again be the benchmark in a men’s league featuring new teams Goulburn and Albury, while ANU has dropped out. Central captain Matt Hotchkis said the key to his team’s success had been keeping player movements to a minimum during that time. “We’ve been a similar sort of line-up for the past five or six years, so that core works well for us,” Hotchkis said. “The competition’s changed, so it’ll be harder to back up. “We’ve had a pretty good period and they’ve all been tight results. It’ll be a lot tougher this year to maintain those standards.” Goulburn looms as the dark horse, with Australian star Glenn Turner the catalyst behind the new team, taking a few of his former teammates at Wests with him. “He’s a pretty regular Kookaburra, he scores plenty of goals and he’s an Olympian,” Hotchkis said. ”It’s really good to have himself and a few others that are Australian reps and ex-Australian players in the competition to lift the standard.” St Pat’s women’s team is aiming to go back-to-back after last year’s title became its first since 2006. Veteran skipper Emma Mathieson said the incentive of trying to lift the trophy again was a reason she decided to put off retirement for at least another season. “There was talk of me maybe retiring, but I’m back again,” Mathieson said. ”It was more tempting before then, but then we won and I thought we better do it again. ”I figure you’ve got a long time on the sidelines when you’re retired.” Albury has entered the women’s competition this season, but a Goulburn team won’t start until next year. Capital LeagueMen: Saturday: Wests v Old Canberrans at National Hockey Centre, Lyneham, 1.45pm; Central v St Pat’s at National Hockey Centre, Lyneham, 3.15pm; Albury v United at Albury, 3.30pm; Goulburn v Tuggeranong Valley at Goulburn, 3.30pm.Women: Saturday: Albury v United at Albury, 2pm. Sunday: All games at National Hockey Centre, Lyneham. UC v Old Canberrans, 12.15pm. North Canberra v Tuggeranong Valley, 1.45pm. Central v ANU, 3.15pm. Bye: St Pat’s
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