Late starter Mantell can still deliver hat-trick
WITH an 18-month son and another baby on the way, Daniel Mantell enjoyed his break from A-grade hockey.
It was the Ipswich dad's first extended time away from the game after 14 years in the top grade.
However, the former Easts captain showed in his latest game he's lost none of his finishing skills.
Mantell added another hat-trick to his successful club career in helping the Tigers overcome Norths 4-3 in Sunday's game at Raceview.
"I think we're getting better but we still have a lot of work to do," Mantell said, happy to be back on the field.
Mantell, 27, missed the pre-season and first four weeks of the premiership to spend more time at home.
With wife Beth expecting a new arrival in coming days, Brassall-based Mantell is preparing for more family excitement and interruptions to hockey.
However, he is happy to help out Easts when he can.
He sparked Easts' recovery on Sunday, after converting a stroke just before halftime to keep the Tigers trailing 3-2.
"That gave us a bit of momentum," he said.
"If we went in 3-1 down, it would have been hard to come back."
Mantell completed his hat-trick after Steve Bayliss equalised with some skilful play in the 43rd minute.
"Steve's goal was the best, a great goal," Mantell said.
"It was individual brilliance really. He stood up the defender and then popped it in the corner.
"I'm just there to put them in the net basically."
Sunday's win keeps Easts in the hunt for a top-two spot in a bid to avenge last year's A-grade grand final loss to Norths.
The Devils' first half goals were scored by Anthony Woodward and Nick Maddocks (two). However, Easts recovered from three goals in nine minutes - and an Ipswich Cup party hangover - by finishing stronger.
"That's why it was such a gutsy win," Mantell said, knowing nearly the whole team had a big day at the Cup.
"I don't think there will be many having a beer now."
In Friday night's game, Wests capitalised on Hancocks' poor penalty conversion rate to win 2-1.
Hancocks coach Martin Flanigan said his team needed to improve its accuracy in the goal circle to stay in touch with the other sides.
"What was good about Friday night was the defence was good," he said. "But attack let us down. We had 13 penalty corners and only converted one.
"The game was there for us to win. We were all over them and couldn't put the ball in the net."
Hancocks were without experienced defender Glen Mortimer (injured hamstring).
With the second round nearly over, Flanigan is still struggling to field the same team on a regular basis.
"I think we'll still be a real handful come finals time if we can get players on the field," Flanigan said.
Jarrod Brown sealed the win for Wests with a fine goal.
In last weekend's A-grade women's games, Wests defeated Thistles 2-0, Bellbowrie beat Toowoomba Past High 2-1, Swifts were too strong for Newtown 4-0 and Norths surprised Hancock Brothers 3-1.
State of Play
A grade men: Wests 2 (J Brown, P Krusi) d Hancock Brothers 1 (A McClelland); Easts 4 (D Mantell 3, S Bayliss) d Norths 3 (N Maddocks 2, A Woodward).
A grade women: Wests 2 (J Hooper, A Korner) d Thistles 0; Bellbowrie 2 (K Ahern, Mc Evans-Doherty) d Past High 1; Swifts 4 (D Casey 3, B McLean) d Newtown 0; Norths Ipswich 3 (A Davey, E Gavranich, S Parlett) d Hancock Brothers 1 (L Eleison).