Men's Hockey League: Meet the contenders

Holcombe celebrate scoring vs Surbiton

Last year's Men's Hockey League Finals gave us plenty of goals and plenty of action. Now with the qualifiers known for this year's showpiece event we look forward to more of the same at Lee Valley this year. We introduce you to the contenders.

P: 18 W: 13 D: 5 L: 0 F: 57 A: 24 GD: 33 PTS: 44

Top Scorers:
Sam Ward (15)
Gareth Andrew (7)

Holcombe have enjoyed a stunning debut season in the top flight, going undefeated across the regular season to secure top spot and European Qualification for their first time in their history. With a number of the Great Britain squad plying their trade at Holcombe Park they have a squad that would make most envious. The meanest defence and the second top scoring side, thanks in part to Sam Ward’s 15 goals, Holcs have strength in all areas and will be confident going into the playoffs.

P: 18 W: 12 D: 1 L: 5 F: 67 A: 46 GD: 21 PTS: 37

Top Scorers:
Alan Forsyth (21)
Andy Hayward (11)

Surbiton are the division’s great entertainers. The league’s top scorers net an average of almost four goals a game. Todd Williams’ team play an open, attacking style that also means they have conceded 46 goals at the other end – the most of the playoff contenders. Scotland duo Alan Forsyth and Chris Grassick have proved to be hugely influential with Forsyth the division’s top scorer with 21. In New Zealand star Andy Hayward they have a potent penalty corner threat. Goals are a given when Surbiton play, can they find the strikes to fire them to glory?

Readings Simon Mantell

P: 18 W: 10 D: 2 L: 6 F: 51 A: 41 GD: 10 PTS: 32

Top Scorers:
Tom Carson (12)
Richard Mantell (8)

The Sonning Lane outfit have spent all bar one week in the top four in the division. Their credentials stand up to scrutiny with two wins over Wimbledon and draws against Holcombe in the regular season. Their semi-final with Surbiton should prove entertaining: the two sides played out a 5-4 thriller early on in the campaign with The Sugden Road side prevailing. The experienced heads are still going strong with Richard Mantell in his usual imperious defensive form and Simon Mantell rejuvenated after injury. Youngster Ben Boon provides flair and excitement whilst Tom Carson certainly knows where the goal is. Reading will be a real danger.

P: 18 W: 10 D: 2 L: 6 F: 41 A: 35 GD: 6 PTS: 32

Top Scorers:
Phillip Ball (7)
Johnny Kinder (7)

The reigning champions left it late, but in the end they took the final qualification spot with something to spare. As you’d expect for the trophy holders, their squad has plenty of quality. Phil Ball and Johnny Kinder have supplied goals whilst Ali Brogdon, Phil Roper, Mikey Hoare, Henry Weir, James Bailey and Ian Sloan give the Wombles a touch of international class. Perhaps they will struggle to spring the goal laden surprise they did in last year’s final, but Wimbledon have enough firepower to be a real danger.

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