The start of the Goulburn Valley Hockey Association season is just around the corner.
While there will be no Regional Hockey League at the top level this year, the action on the home front will be as fierce as ever across eight grades of competition.
From under-10 players just beginning to find their way in the sport to experienced A-grade stars honing their craft, the hockey pitches of the Goulburn Valley will be awash with entertainment for eager fans to digest.
The recently released draw promises plenty of top-quality matches across the regular season, which begins on April 14 and ends on August 18 with round-15 clashes.
In the A-men competition, rivals Shepparton Youth Club and Shepparton Strikers will not have to wait long to resume their titanic struggle for dominance, scheduled to take on each other for the first time this season in round two.
The Strikers are reigning champions after taking out the title last year, but the Scorchers — who were on the losing end come grand final day — claimed the RHL crown over their rivals earlier in the season.
With only one premiership on offer this campaign, both teams will be looking to take the early ascendancy and sustain that momentum for the entire season.
Mooroopna and Echuca-Moama remain worthy challengers for the title, and will attempt to knock the Shepparton sides off of their perch.
In the A-women’s division, the biggest rivalry in recent years will resume in round three.
Mooroopna and Shepparton Youth Club have played out two thrilling grand finals in the past two seasons, with both titles decided by penalty shootouts.
After the Cats basked in glory in 2016 it was the Scorchers who tasted success last season — and both sides will be intent on snaring a best-of-three triumph if history repeats itself this year.
Shepparton Strikers and Echuca-Moama will have other ideas though and will look to upset plans of a trilogy between the Cats and Scorchers by reaching the decider.
The full draw can be accessed at gvhockey.com. au/general-info/season- 2018-full-fixture/ or the GVHA facebook page.