Why skilful teenager is enjoying a hat-trick of success
PREPARING to make his Super League debut, Norths speedster Zac Profke scored another valuable hat-trick in the Ipswich A Grade hockey competition.
The St Edmund's year 12 student netted three goals as Norths remained unbeaten with a 4-3 victory over Easts on Saturday night.
With the annual Super League championships coming up early next month, Profke has also received a boost being named in the latest Australian Futures squad.
Proud dad and Norths A Grade coach Steve was pleased to see Zac given more higher level opportunities after his impressive goal-scoring form.
But as Zac prepares to represent the South West Lumberjacks and receive specialised training in the Futures squad, Steve praised other exciting teenagers impressing with Norths this season.
Emerging talents like striker Jake Thornton, backs David Visser and Brad Walker, and goalkeeper Cian McLaughlin have joined Zac in giving the Devils fresh hope after the loss of several senior players.
"These are the kids that we've been using (often off the bench) over the last couple of years,'' the coach said.
"While they've got their chance in A Grade, they are all stepping up and doing what we need them to so it's been good.''
With seasoned regulars like Dean Jeffrey, Nick Maddocks, Andrew Pratt and Jeremy Dalais still playing, Norths have three wins and a draw either side of the Easter break.
Preparing for their first match in the annual Combined Competition with Toowoomba, Norths have also already beaten defending premiers Hancock Brothers 3-2 and Wests 2-1.
After Norths drew 6-6 with Easts in the first round, Steve Profke said Saturday night's latest win was the most satisfying so far.
"We were down 3-1 and then we came back,'' he said.
Profke said although losing some key players, Norths were able to bring the youngsters up full-time and retain a settled combination.
That was helped by focusing on A Grade without a Reserve Grade team this year.
Profke said teenage goalkeeper McLaughlin had been "absolutely outstanding'', making the big step from Reserve Grade to A Grade ranks for Norths.
He also plays Reserve Grade for Bellbowrie.
McLaughlin continues Ipswich's development of terrific young keepers following last year's Queensland Blades national league representative Cade Banditt, former state junior Kyah Andrew-Sharrad and current junior Queensland player Matt West.
As for his son Zac, Profke was thrilled the Australian Schoolboys representative was progressing well. Apart from playing for Norths in Ipswich, Zac lines up for Pine Rivers St Andrews in the Division 1 Brisbane competition.
Zac has been an ever-improving striker using his dangerous tomahawk strike technique close to goal.
Josh Shaw scored Norths' other goal on Saturday night at the Ipswich Hockey Complex.
Easts' goal scorers were Steve Bayliss and Tim Woodford.
Hancocks and Wests drew 4-4 in the other men's A Grade encounter.
Norths tackle Past High in Toowoomba on Sunday with Wests also heading up the range to face Norths Toowoomba.
"It's good to play a few different teams through the season, especially when we've only got four teams (in the Ipswich competition),'' Profke said.
State of play
A Grade men: Norths 4 (Z Profke 3, J Shaw) d Easts 3 (S Bayliss 2, T Woodford); Hancock Brothers 4 (R Smith 2, N Smith, J Willie) drew Wests 4 (C McCoombes 2, G Walker, T Dakin).
A Grade women: Wests 5 (J Office 2, A Kickbusch 2, G Nicholls) d Hancock Brothers 1 (S Rogers); Norths 4 (E Alchin 2, S Parlett, C Brown) d Swifts 2 (A Stacey 2).