Hikers, Queens Park play to exciting draw…Toronto women scores convincing win

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The competition is heating up in this year’s Diamond Mineral Water Indoor Hockey Festival as Pepsi Hikers continue their good showing in the tournament, while the women from Toronto, Canada made their intentions known with a 6 – 0 win over Old Fort.

The voluminous Thursday evening crowd at the National Gymnasium was given much to cheer for when local champs, the Pepsi Hikers, took on Queens Park of Trinidad in the men’s division; a match that finished in an exciting 5 – 5 draw.

The highly anticipated feature match of the evening lived up to its billing as both teams began their quest for victory at a blistering pace.

Despite several quality players being on the court in the form of both Guyanese and Trinidadian Internationals, the sublime skills of Hikers Aroydy Branford could not be ignored as the crowd were treated to moves that would make any highlight reel.

Aroydy Branford in action on Thursday evening.
Aroydy Branford in action on Thursday evening.

Queen’s Park Captain, Daren Cowie, changed the game in the 5th minute with an opening goal to put his side up by one, but Hikers Captain Robert France responded in the 7th through a rebound off goalkeeper Reiza Hussein.

This exchange signaled the true nature of the match and Queens Park striker Jordan Vieira brought the crowd to its feet yet again with a deft spin to evade one defender, weave by another and slot home his shot in the far corner of the goal.

The Hikers however refused to fade and France netted his second in as many minutes when he deflected a Jamarj Assanah pass from the left into the open goal behind the beaten Hussein in goal.

Vieira and Dominic Young managed to surge ahead with a pair of goals for Queen’s Park in the 13th and 14th minute respectively before Randy Hope would pull the Hikers back within one from a penalty corner strike three minutes before halftime.

The second half produced fewer goals but even more excitement as Aroydy Branford released one of his trademark lightning bolt penalty corner flicks into the Queen’s Park net in the 24th minute to tie the game for the third time at 4-4.

Verbal bets were prevalent in the crowd as the match headed into the final minutes deadlocked and showing no signs of a slowing pace.  Queens Park’s Jordan Vieira stunned the local crowd by completing his hatrick through a penalty corner in the 33rd minute to give his side what was surely expected to be the winning goal.

Part of the action on Thursday
Part of the action on Thursday

The Hikers side applied a full press in the final minute of play that delivered when Branford sent the crowd airborne with excitement with a goal seconds from the final buzzer to see the game end at 5-5.

In the opening fixture of the night, the Pizza Hut GCC ladies long-standing win streak against the Woodpecker Hikers, spanning several years, came to an end as the Hikers managed to tie the game at 2-2 in the final minute through guest player Allana Lewis.

The Pizza Hut ladies took the lead through striker Sonia Jardine in the 5th minute of play before Maria Munroe drew the scores levelled at 1-1 in the 9th.  Kerensa Fernandes gave GCC its second lead of the match just before the half but the lone goal in the second half by Lewis would leave GCC short of time to respond.

Canadian ladies, the Toronto Toros, cruised to an easy 6-0 victory over Old Fort with Kaelen Watson and Jaslan Stirling scoring doubles and Angela Lancaster and Danica Jayme adding one each.  The Toros seemed unsettled in the opening minutes despite having the edge on Old Fort in possession but as the match progressed, they tightened their grip and rallied off five unanswered second half goals after a first half that only produced one.

Bounty GCC men seemed scored three early goals in their men’s clash against Carib Hockey Club of Trinidad.  The Bourda side seemed to throttle back a bit too sharply as Carib managed two goals to reduce the deficit  to one before GCC stepped up their game with two more late goals for the 5-2 win.  Kevin Spencer was the leading marksman for GCC scoring 4 of their 5 goals while Kareem McKenzie scored the 5th.  Dylan Francis and Kern Ramsammy were the goal scorers for Carib.

The two Carib veteran division matches of the evening saw Queen’s Park destroy Antonio’s Hickers by 5-1 and the Bal-Wash-Ers (comprising players from Baltimore and Washington in the USA) edging past Carib HC by 5-3.

Matches continue throughout the weekend with the finals being played from 4:00pm on Sunday November 27.

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