NEW success stories are few and far between in the MHC-Milo-NHC Junior Hockey League, so the progress of two 1Mas teams into the Division Two play-offs have got some excited.
Division One, as predicted turned out to be another Thunderbolts success story as they are virtually assured of the League title, while the Milo Cup also looks to be theirs for the taking.
And if the former Bandar Penawar Sports School, now named Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) play to form, this season would see them win the double for the fourth consecutive year.
UniKL and Petaling Jaya City Council (PJCC) will again play the bridesmaid, and the Best Man at Thunderbolts party.
However, development sides 1MAS TBSS Tampin and 1MAS Perlis are out to measure themselves with teams from other regions in the Division Two, playoffs which starts on Feb 26.
Both are hoping to finish in the top-two bracket, in order to play in the Milo Cup, where they will compete against the top four from Division One.
The six teams from Division Two have qualified for the play-off are Nurinsafi-PHA, 1Mas TBSS Tampin, MSNT-THT, 1 MAS Perlis, BJSS Juniors, SMKDBL Johor HA.
Teams from Perlis (Y), Penang (X), Terengganu (Y), Kuala Lumpur (X), Johor (Y) and Negri Sembilan (X) have been placed in two groups of X and Y and they will play all their matches in Kuala Lumpur.
The top two teams from Group X and Y will then join the top 4 teams of Division One for the overall Milo Cup knockout stage which will be played on a home and away basis. The final is on March 15.
For 1MAS Perlis, it is their first time venturing out of the Northern region group: "Our players 16 and 17-year-olds, and I'm proud and satisfied that the team is finally coming good since being together for the last three years," said team manager Badrisham Che Yob.
"We were close to qualifying for the Division Two playoffs for the last two years but were knocked out on goal difference.
"I told the boys that since we are in the second round, let's go one step better. The boys are looking confident and the exposure will be great."
1MAS TBSS Tampin team manager M. Vivekananda said the play-offs provides a chance to gauge his players better. They play Nurinsafi-Penang Hockey on Feb 26.
"The earlier round felt like a district tournament as we only played Southern teams. The playoff allows us to measure ourselves against teams from the North and East Coast," he said.
"The first match will be tough. Our team is made up of schoolboys while there are some seasoned players in Nur Insafi, who were doing great in the Northern region."
The four Division One teams for the Milo Cup are champions-elect SSTMI Thunderbolts, UniKL, PJCC and SSP-MSP-Thunderbolt.
UniKL and PJCC go head-on on Feb 27 in a winner take-all battle for second spot in the league.