SSTMI Thunderbolts are expected to start their Division One double title defence with a win as they will play against their juniors in the Junior Hockey League (JHL) curtain raiser Friday.
And double sliver medallists UniKL Young Guns will clash with BJSS Thunderbolts, with the sports school getting a boost of fresh coaching and funding from Tenaga Nasional.
This season BJSS will be coached by Tenaga's K. Rajan, who was the 2009 Malaysia-Singapore Junior World Cup coach, as they were recently roped into Tenaga's Thunderbolts programme.
The other teams in Thunderbolts programme are Temerloh Sports School playing under SSP-MSP-Thunderbolts and Division Two team Anderson Thunderbolts.
Division One is again expected to be a four-team battle with the two teams promoted from Division Two finding the going much more tougher than last season.
Nur Insafi beat SMK Datuk Bentara Luar of Johor 3-2 in the Division Two final last season, and both teams were promoted to the tougher division.
SSTMI Thunderbolts coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman is expecting a tougher fight from at least five teams.
"Of course we will play to keep both our titles but it will not be as easy as before because other teams have also progressed over the years," said Wan Roslan.
SSTMI Thunderbolts hold the distinction of winning the last four consecutive doubles.
"There is a bigger pool of players and many teams have a sound development programme. This augurs well for hockey in the country, but at the same time, makes it harder to retain our titles."
As for UniKL, coach I. Vickneswaran aims to at least win one title.
"We would like to trade in at least one of our seilers to gold this season. Even though we did not have the desired time to train as we only started after Christmas, but still, we aim to be among the top teams again," said Vickneswaran.
DIVISION ONE -- FRIDAY: SSTMI Thunderbolts v SSTMI Juniors (SSTMI, 5pm), UniKL Young Guns v BJSS Thunderbolts (National Stadium II, 5pm), Politeknik Malaysia v SMKDBL Young Guns (Taman Daya, 5pm), Nurinsafi v SSP-MSP-Thunderbolts (Sungai Petani, 5pm).
SUNDAY: BJSS Thunderbolts v SSP-MSP-Thunderbolts (National Stadium II, 5pm), SMKDBL Young Guns v SSTMI Thunderbolts (Batu Pahat, 5pm), SSTMI Juniors v Politeknik Malaysia (SSTMI, 5pm), Olak Tigers v UniKL Young Guns (Tun Razak, 5pm), Nurinsafi v Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (Sungai Petani, 5pm).
DIVISION TWO -- FRIDAY: Group A: Perlis Young Lions v Perlis Young Lions Jnrs (Kuala Perlis, 5pm), Malay College KK v SM Sains Azlan Shah (Kuala Kangsar, 5pm),
Larut Matang & Selama (Kangar, 5pm).
Group B: STAR v Felda Juniors (Azlan Shah I, 5pm), Anderson Thunderbolts v Anderson PHA (Azlan Shah II, 5pm), BJSS JUniors v MSSWPKL (Education Ministry, 5pm).
SATURDAY -- Group A: MSS Kedah v Kedah Juniors (Padang Serai, 5pm), Matri v Perlis Young Lions Jnrs (Kangar, 5pm), Perlis Young Lions v Penang MSPP-USM (Kuala Perlis, 5pm), Larut Matang & Selama v MCKK (K Kangsar, 5pm).
Group B: Anderson Thunderbolts v MSNPK-ILHC (Azlan Shah 1, 5pm), Anderson PHA v Felda Juniors (Azlan Shah II, 5pm), BJSS Juniors v MISCF-UFL (Ministry Education, 5pm).
Group C: Malacca High v Young Hurricanes (Malacca, 5pm), Datuk Taha v TBSS Tampin (Seremban II, 5pm), MSNT-Terengganu HT v Pahang Academy (Padang Midin, 5pm), SM Sains Johor v SMKDBL Jnrs (Batu Pahat, 5pm).