Kirk Cup holders Kilkeel crashed to their first defeat in defence of the trophy when they went down 8-2 at home to a rampant Banbridge side during the week.
Alex Tinney hit a hat-trick for Bann as Mark Tumilty’s side cruised into a 4-0 interval lead and, after adding to it, their hosts pulled a goal back through Luke Russell.
Bann responded with three more goals - with ex-Kilkeel player David Rae, Josh Moffett, Luke Witherow and Zach McClelland and Drew Carlisle joining Tinney on the scorers’ list - before David Finlay’s late consolation.
It was Banbridge’s second win in a row on their return to the competition following their opening 3-1 wvictory over NICS and they now look a safe bet for the semi-finals.
Coach Tumilty was delighted with the win which was achieved without Eugene Magee, who is on Four Nations duty with Ireland in Valencia.
“I was pleased with the performance and I thought we moved the ball very well and played some very good attacking hockey,” he said.
“Some of the younger players who were drafted inn really impressed me and it was a good win as Kilkeel is always a tough place to go.”
Joel Cathcart was another of the hat-trick heroes on Tuesday night as he helped Mossley beat Belfast Harlequins 5-3.
It was 1-1 at half-time and Quins twice came back from two goals down to make a real fist of it before Mossley got the insurance goal.
Will Aston and Irish international Neal Glassey, back home for a few months from Germany, were also on the mark for the Newtownabbey side with Michael Patterson (2) and Stephen McGrath replying.
Elsewhere, EYHL side Cookstown were too strong for Bangor as they came away with a 3-0 win thanks to goals from Keith Black, who scored from the spot, and two from Stuart Smyth.
Later in the week, North Down twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Queen’s and South Antrim beat Civil Service 2-1 with goals from Rory Brown and Mark Gray before Matthew Vincent’s consolation.
On Saturday, Cookstown return to EYHL duty as they travel to Cork to face C of I and skipper Greg Allen is hoping they can turn their encouraging display in a recent defeat against Annadale into a positive result.
“We played some really good stuff against Annadale last time out, but just couldn’t finish the job when we had taken the lead,” he said.
“Cork will be going all guns blazing to beat us at Garryduff on Saturday and we’ll have to meet that and then see if we can stamp our own mark on the game.”
In IHL 2, Bangor will be hoping to bounce back from their midweek loss when they host Railway Union with Instonians travelling to Dublin to play Corinthian.
Kilkeel make the long trip to Cork to face UCC, needing to get back on track after an opening loss to Corinthian.
Harlequins will also be looking to get back to winning ways when they take on NICS in the Ulster Premier League at Deramore with Newry hosting North Down and Mossley travelling to Raphoe in the other games.
On the women’s front, Pegasus will have to get used to life without goalkeeper Sammy-Jo Greer, who has has quit the club to take a complete break from hockey, representing a blow to their chances of capturing silverware this season.
The 26-year-old had been a consistent performer since joining Pegasus from Ballymoney but her work commitments which include evening shifts have forced her to call time on her hockey career, hopefully only temporarily.
Sammy-Jo has left the club with many happy memories, having also represented Ulster and Ireland at every age-group since she started playing the sport when she was 11.
She said: “Whilst at Pegasus, I’ve had the opportunity to play in the European A division, played in an Irish cup final and played in two all Ireland play offs.”
“I’ve enjoyed my time with Pegasus immensely and can’t thank the girls or the club enough for the opportunities I’ve had whilst playing with the team.
“Special mention should go to goalkeeping coaches Sammy Downes and Sharon Moffet, and also my mum, who have been a source of continuous support throughout my time playing at club, inter-pro and international level.
“It’s great to see hockey growing and gaining more exposure after Ireland’s recent World Cup success but at the moment I feel it’s time to take a step back with, potentially, maybe returning to play at some point in the future.”
Megan Todd, who joined Pegasus from Queen’s this season, is likely to take over the goalkeeping duties as Pegasus aim to get back among the trophies after reaching the EY Irish Hockey League play-offs and Irish Cup final last season.
On Sunday, they face their toughest test to date when they face Loreto in a top of the table clash at the Dub, aiming to make it five successive victories in the league.
The Dublin side have lost just once this season and with Irish World Cup stars Hannah Matthews and Ali Meeke in their line-up, will be expected to pose a stern test for the league leaders.
There is also an important game at Londonderry Park where Ards will be hoping to get their first win when they take on newly-promoted Old Alex.
So far, Ards have managed just a single point from four starts and have yet to score a goal, so they will need to remedy that problem against the Leinster side, who have made a decent start to the campaign.
Belfast Harlequins travel to UCD after a much-improved display in beating Muckross 2-0 a fortnight ago following a disappointing home loss to Cork Harlequins.
They hope to have Irish international Zoe Wilson back on board after the 21-year-old midfielder missed the Muckross game with an eye complaint.
In the IHL 2 Queen’s will be out to make it a third consecutive win when they host Trinity at the Dub on Sunday, with Dungannon facing Monkstown on Saturday.
In the Ulster Premier League, champions Lurgan and Ballymoney have a chance to make up ground on leaders Lisnagarvey, who have a day off.
Money travel to Antrim Forum on Friday night to face Randalstown, who have had a tough start to the campaign, having lost seven players from last season.
On Saturday, Lurgan are at home to top-flight newcomers Ballymena while Mossley, who have yet to register a win so far, host Rainey, who got off the mark with a 2-0 victory over Banbridge last weekend.