The Black Sticks Women are two games deep into the Hawke's Bay Festival of Hockey at the time of writing this and over the weekend the suffered a 2-1 defeat to Japan, before a 1-1 draw with Australia. Tonight (Monday) the women take on USA, both teams have a loss and a draw with Japan the dominant team so far with two wins.
Coach Mark Hager is rolling out the same group of players that played the two Tests against USA last week, hence why we shouldn't be too concerned with the results from the Festival. With a few top-tier players taking time off from hockey, we get a fantastic look into how the Black Sticks Women will look moving forward as the likes of Sam Charlton, Pippa Hayward Rose Keddell, Brooke Neal, Olivia Merry and Stacey Michelsen form a young but experienced core. Given the talent in that group, the opportunity for them to step up and lead what is generally a younger squad is vital in their development.
Sally Rutherford is the exception as the goalie is 35-years-old, but of the rest of the players with over 100 caps, Hayward is the oldest at just 26yrs. The rest of that 100-cap group are between 22yrs and 25yrs which should tell you all you need to know about the potential of this team.
Some good news has just come through with Thursday's action from the Festival to be streamed on Facebook. Seeing as we've got nothing at the moment, that's awesome but these days there is no reason why the whole tournament can't be streamed via multiple channels and we should really expect live-streaming and video highlights; not just one day's play on Facebook.