Monday, 1 September 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 31st August)

Hat-trick for Bowman in Stars' romp
Billingham Stars warmed up for the new NIHL North season with a 10-2 home win against Aberdeen Lynx – Michael Bowman (3) & Chris Sykes (3) led the scoring.

Whitley Warriors enjoyed a 7-2 success against Lynx, while Solway Sharks triumphed 7-1 at home to North Ayrshire Wild. Blackburn Hawks beat Widnes Wild 7-1 on home ice and followed up with a 9-0 success in the reverse fixture. Solihull Barons won 8-1 at home to Nottingham Lions.

Telford Tigers showed their intent ahead of the new EPL campaign with an 11-4 aggregate win over Sheffield Steeldogs to claim the Bradfield Brewery Cup. Peterborough Phantoms secured an impressive 6-3 success against Elite League outfit Hull Stingrays.

Nottingham Panthers returned with silverware from their pre-season trip to France after clinching the Napoleon Cup. Panthers beat Amiens Gothics 4-3 after a shoot-out, and followed up with a 3-1 victory against Rouen Dragons. A single point from a shoot-out defeat to Three Rivers University, Canada, saw Nottingham top the four-team group.

Braehead Clan won the Aladdin Cup after two hard fought games against HC Asiago 1935. The Italians won the first game 3-1, but Clan hit back the following night with a 5-2 success - Derek Roehl's shoot-out strike sealed the victory. Fife Flyers lost 10-7 on aggregate to Aalborg Pirates (Denmark) in the Bay Hotel Cup.

Ryan O'Marra hit a hat-trick as Coventry Blaze registered a 5-1 victory over Sheffield Steelers at the Skydome in their third pre-season challenge match. Blaze had started their Elite League preparations with a 3-2 win against Cardiff Devils, before suffering a 4-2 loss at iceSheffield against the Steelers.

Dundee Stars followed up a 4-3 win over Asiago with a 4-2 loss and 1-1 draw against Edinburgh Capitals. Belfast Giants won 2-1 at home to Cardiff.

(Image permission: Dean Reeve)

Saturday, 30 August 2014

NIHL round-up

Chelmsford Chieftains have completed their roster ahead of the new NIHL1 South season with the signing of Martin Piecha. The Czech forward has joined the Essex outfit after a successful four-year spell in Germany.

Canadian forward Andrew Magee has signed for Solent Devils. Magee hit 73 points in 49 games for Toronto Blue Ice Jets in the GMHL last season. Cardiff NIHL1 have signed Sam Smith from the EPL's Swindon Wildcats, while Chris Hart has agreed another season.

London Raiders have added youngsters Hayden & Taylor Wootton and Jack Lee to their squad, and netminder Michael Gray is back for another year. Jamie Newton has joined Oxford City Stars from Bristol Pitbulls. Mason Wild and Jacob Smith have also agreed another year with the club. In NIHL2S, Lewis Tribble has moved to Slough jets from Wightlink Tigers.

NIHL North Moralee D1 treble holders Solway Sharks have confirmed the signing of two Elite League forwards. Marc Fowley joins from Edinburgh Capitals and Aidan Fulton switches to Dumfries from Braehead Clan. Ric Hughes is back for another campaign with Blackburn Hawks.

In Laidler D2, Nottingham Lions have signed ex-Telford Titans defenseman Conor Gordon, while Rob McDonald joins from Slough. Craig Wallis, Slawomir Kasprzak and Ben Foster-Wilson have agreed another season with the Lions, while youngsters Sam Illsley and Sam Adcock have also been added to the roster. Jason Fitton, Tom Fielden and Conor Duthie are all back for another year with Blackburn Eagles.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

NIHL round-up

Whitley Warriors warmed up for the new NIHL North Moralee D1 season with a 7-4 win at Kirkcaldy Kestrels.

Tom Humphries (left) scored four in Sheffield Senators' 7-3 victory over Bristol Pitbulls, and the Laidler D2 outfit followed up with a 7-1 success against Manchester Minotaurs. Widnes Wild lost 2-1 at home to the Pitbulls.

Long-serving Blackburn Hawks forwards Dave Meikle and Matt Viney have agreed another season with the club. Craig Thurston has left Solway Sharks to join Cheyenne Stampede in the Western States Hockey League (WSHL).

Telford NIHL have signed GB U18 netminder Denis Bell from MK Thunder, while Macaulay Heywood and James Smith join from the Tigers' EPL team. Ken Armstrong is back for a second year with Widnes, Reece Glossop has agreed a third season with Nottingham Lions and Blackburn Eagles have added netminder Phil Crosby to their squad.

In NIHL1 South, Joe Johnston will once again captain Streatham Redskins. Charlie Phillips has joined Invicta Dynamos from London Raiders, while Bracknell Hornets have added Mark Duffy and Matt Ovenden to their roster.

Alex Murray will continue as Solent Player/Coach, and the Devils have also agreed deals with Guildford Juniors Sam Calder, Ralfs Circenis and Monty Gailer. Cardiff NIHL have added a number of players to their D1 & D2 ranks including Alex Madge, Jack Randall and Martin Davison.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Jared Owen interview

Player/Coach Jared Owen has overseen a massive turnaround in the fortunes of Blackburn Hawks over the past few seasons.

A 2009 relegation play-off defeat to Manchester Phoenix ENL should have seen the club condemned to Division 2 hockey, but a subsequent reprieve set the Hawks on the road to claiming their first-ever trophy in 2013.

Hawks were strongly fancied for more silverware last year, but found Solway Sharks a tough nut to crack as the Dumfries outfit clinched the NIHL North treble.

Hawks' boss Owen took time out from his preparations for the new campaign to discuss his hopes for the club's 25th season and give his thoughts on the new league structure. He began with his views on last season's efforts (the player may not open on some mobile devices or out of date web browsers).

Friday, 22 August 2014

NIHL round-up

Gareth O'Flaherty
Coventry Blaze have boosted their NIHL North Laidler D2 promotion hopes with the addition of Dale White & Gareth O'Flaherty to their roster.

White has been a part of the Blaze Elite League squad for the past two seasons, while O'Flaherty joins from the EPL's Telford Tigers.

The pair will focus on the Blaze NIHL team, but both will be available for the senior side. O'Flaherty will also ice for Manchester Phoenix in the EPL when available.

Jordan Bannon and Dave Clancy have agreed another season with Deeside Dragons, while ex-Telford Titans defenseman Mike Roden has also joined the North Wales outfit.

Sheffield Senators have confirmed a quartet of returnees to their roster, with Callum Rawson, Joel Aheran, Luke Smith and Tom Proctor agreeing another year. Jamie Hovell, Martin Chalke, Lee Holland and Christy Johnson-Brown have all been added to Nottingham Lions' squad. Wes Nixon has signed for Blackburn Eagles after a spell away from senior hockey.

Moralee D1 champions Solway Sharks have welcomed back two of their treble-winning squad, with Ross Murray and Stevie Moore signing for another season. Czech defenseman Pavel Slowik has signed for Blackburn Hawks.

In NIHL1 South, Invicta Dynamos' forward Andy Smith has agreed another year with the Kent club as he looks to close in on 1,000 career points. Dominic Hopkins is back for a third campaign with Streatham Redskins, while Louis Lockwood also returns after a spell with Cardiff Devils.

Bailey Wootton has joined London Raiders from Lee Valley Lions, while Player/Coach Danny Marshall has confirmed Tom Davis and Danny Peters have agreed another year. Andrew Goddard, Luke Tull, Mitchell Murray and Hugo Tibbitts have been added to the Solent Devils roster.

MK Thunder have signed Josh Nicklin from Coventry and Paul Gore returns to the club after spending last season with MK Lightning in the EPL. Forward Tom Mboya is also back for a fifth year and youngster Alex Whyte steps up for his first full senior season.

Bristol Pitbulls have completed their NIHL2S squad by re-signing Adrian Smith and Olly Shone, while Jack Cooper and Ali Band are back for another year with Haringey Racers.

(Image permission: John Knowles)

Friday, 15 August 2014

NIHL round-up

Reigning NIHL North champions Solway Sharks have boosted their hopes of retaining their Moralee D1 crown with the signing of Richard Bentham.

The ex-Manchester Phoenix and Peterborough Phantoms forward joins the Dumfries outfit after racking up nearly 200 games in the EPL. Sharks have also confirmed two returnees to their roster, with Struan Tonnar and Gary Russell both agreeing another season.

Blackburn forward Dan MacKriel is back for a further year with the Hawks, but Latvian Ivo Dimitrijevs has left to join Nottingham Lions in Laidler D2. Netminder Warren Gilfoyle also moves to the Lions from Hull Jets, while Nick Saxton is back for another season with Blackburn Eagles. Telford Tigers NIHL have confirmed Scott McKenzie and Jason Parry as their coaching team.

Ex-Telford Titans forward Paul Davies has joined Deeside Dragons. Davies previously played for Bristol Pitbulls in NIHL South, averaging over a point per game, while last season saw him finish as Titans' top goalscorer.

Defenseman Danny Wright has agreed another year with Chelmsford Chieftains in NIHL1S, while Sean Barry moves up from their NIHL2 Warriors roster. Invicta Dynamos have snapped up Billy Phillips from London Raiders and Harrison Lillis from Streatham Redksins. Joe Allen and Adam Mahoney are back for another year with the Redskins, while Jacob Ranson returns to the Raiders after a spell with MK Thunder.

Oxford City Stars have signed Romanian international Zsolt Mastaleriu from ASC Corona Brasov. Stars have also added metminder Ryan Bainborough from the Chieftains, as well as confirming last year's goalie James Skaife to their roster for another year.

Ryan McFarlane has left the SNL's Dundee Tigers to join Solent, while the Devils have also added Sam and Shaun Rudkin to their squad. Bracknell Hornets have signed Jack Baveystock from Nottingham Lions, Simon Griffiths from Slough Jets and returnee Cameron Barker.

Nathan Darmanin, Tomas Gilheany and Stas Prokofiev and Josh Ealey-Newman have all been confirmed to the Jets' roster, while Alan Armour and Grant Richardson have agreed another season with Bristol.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Ken Taggart interview

Following the announcement of the new league structure in NIHL North, EIHA Chairman spoke with C2C to explain how the decision was reached.

He also discussed a number of other issues around the league and the sport in general (the player may not open on mobile devices).

Sunday, 10 August 2014

NIHL North format 2014/15

The EIHA have confirmed next season's NIHL North will line up with a 7/10 divisional split as follows:

Moralee D1

Solway Sharks, Blackburn Hawks, Billingham Stars, Whitley Warriors, Sheffield Spartans, Sutton Sting, Manchester Minotaurs.

Laidler D2

Solihull Barons, Deeside Dragons, Nottingham Lions, Coventry Blaze, Sheffield Senators, Widnes Wild, Hull Jets, Blackburn Eagles, Telford Tigers NIHL, Bradford Bulldogs.

C2C understands clubs were contacted twice regarding the league's format on Friday evening, with the second correspondence giving teams a choice between one big division or a 7/10 split.

C2C polled a number of teams for their views, and though many refused to comment the majority favoured the set-up which has now been implemented. C2C has obtained copies of the correspondence which can be viewed here.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

NIHL round-up

Sutton Sting have received a boost ahead of the upcoming NIHL North Moralee D1 season, with Slav Movko agreeing a second year with the club.

The Latvian (left) took time to settle last term, but some improved performances towards the end of the season persuaded new Sting Coach Matt Darlow to make the forward one of his 'must have' signings for the new campaign.

Darlow commented, “I see Slav as a big piece of this season's puzzle as his speed, direct play and physicality will cause problems for defence and goaltenders alike.

"I've spoken with Slav regularly and he agrees that last season he simply tried too hard to regain form after a few years off the ice and this made him look like a selfish player at times.

"He knows the team spirit we require on and off the ice to do well this season and he's already shown me he has many more gears to go through. I'm excited to be working with him."

Movko said he's delighted to be back for another year: "I'm looking forward to another season in Sting colours and believe that although we've lost some good players we have a stronger team with guys who want to succeed together through hard work. This season is time for me to show how I can play hockey at my best level and help Sting achieve good results."

Billingham Stars have added more depth to their squad with James McCabe and Dave Thomas both agreeing another season. The pair are joined on Stars' roster by youngsters Kyran Kerry, Will Robson and Josh Nertney.

EIHA Chairman Ken Taggart has confirmed Telford Titans could be on the verge of folding. When asked about recent rumours regarding the club's future Taggart said: "We haven't been notified but have heard the same. We are working it and because of the pressure of fixtures are working it as hard as we can. The Division 1 and 2 promotion/relegation is causing a huge problem, as I advised at the AGM."

In Laidler D2, Coventry Blaze have snapped up Rob Perks from Nottingham Lions, while Luke Smith, Jay McFadyen and Philip Pollok (right) are all back for another year. Antti Kohvakka returns to the club after a year away from the game.

Ben Wood, Dan Hazeldine and Tom Hovell have agreed another season with the Lions. Deeside Dragons have added promising youngsters Jack Meadows and Ross Kennedy to their squad,

Paul Lofthouse, Sam Hurst and Tom Robjohns have joined Sheffield Senators’ roster, while Tom Murphy and Danny Jones are back for another season with Blackburn Eagles.

NIHL1 South title hopefuls Invicta Dynamos have signed Steve Osman from Wightlink Raiders, while Adam McNicoll returns to the club after a short spell with Dundee Comets in the SNL. Netminder Shannon Long has joined the Raiders from Bracknell Hornets. Streatham Redskins have secured prolific forwards Steven Fisher and Sean Scarborough for another year.

Slough Jets have boosted their NIHL2S title aspirations by signing Alan Green from last year's champions Oxford City Stars. Netminder Danny Milton has agreed another year with the Jets, while Ellis Sheppard and Liam Underdown have also been added to the squad.

Stars have signed netminder Ryan Bainborough from Chelmsford Chieftains and last season’s goalie James Skaife has also agreed another year. Bristol Pitbulls have completed the signing of their defensive line-up with the return of Tom Asprey, Dan Pettitt and Dan Mann.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sharks and Clan join forces

Solway Sharks and Braehead Clan have announced a new partnership agreement ahead of the 2014/15 season.

The partnership will see up to five Sharks development players signed on a two-way deals by the Clan, with the opportunity of training and playing with the Elite League club. As part of the agreement, Braehead will play a pre-season game in Dumfries against Solway on Wednesday, 3rd September )face-off 7.30pm).

Braehead Hockey Operations Director Gareth Chalmers commented: "The Braehead Clan are an organisation that want to sign and help develop young British players.Solway are an organisation we highly respect for the work they do in this area. From the moment I joined the Clan one of my objectives was to set up an agreement and relationship with the Sharks.

"Initially our agreement will see up to five Sharks development players sign two-way deals with the Clan, however we have a long term objective of possibly having a number of development players based in Dumfries with the Sharks, where they can learn and develop their game. We're looking forward to our game in Dumfries, which will give us further competitive pre-season action ahead of the 2014/15 season."

Sharks' Chairman Les Maxwell said: "This is an exciting partnership for the Sharks with one of the best organisations in the Elite league and gives particularly our younger players an opportunity to advance to the highest level if they are prepared to put in the work. It may also help us attract players to the club who want to further their development.

"As a development club, the Sharks have always been keen to give talented youngsters an opportunity to showcase their talents within the highly competitive NIHL North Moralee D1 and we have a good track record of such players moving onto higher levels.

"With the introduction of the crossover cup with EPL clubs this season, this partnership with Braehead gives our younger players a chance of even stiffer tests of their talents. The opportunity is now there with Solway for youngsters across the country to fulfil the dreams with a clear pathway to the top."

Tickets for the Sharks v Clan game will be available on the night at the Dumfries Ice Bowl priced at £7.50 for adults and £5.00 for concessions (16s and under, disabled and OAPs). Family tickets are priced at £15 (2 adults and all children under 16).

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Friday, 1 August 2014

NIHL round-up

NIHL North Laidler D2 teams have been busy assembling their rosters ahead of the new season.

Reigning champions Solihull Barons have confirmed Tomas Janak (left) and Ed Eaton have agreed another year, with Simon Harrison also joining from Telford Titans.

Deeside Dragons have signed Bryn Roberts from the EPL's Telford Tigers, while Gavin Austin and Andy Chappell both return for another season.

Coventry Blaze have snapped up Connor McNaughton and Joseph Steeples from Nottingham Lions, while Chris Gill, Philip Mulcahy and Daniel Barker are among seven returnees from last season’s roster. Lions have added Neil Adams to their ranks once again after a short spell away from the game.

Rudi Molnar, Matt Pigott and Charlie Thompson have stepped up from the juniors to join the Sheffield Senators' roster, while Widnes Wild have signed netminder Nicole Jackson from Manchester Minotaurs.

Sheffield Spartans' quartet Nick Manning, Scott Morris and Ollie & Will Barron are back for another year in Moralee D1, while Martyn Davies has agreed another season with Billingham Stars.

Juraj Huska has agreed a second season with NIHL1 South outfit Invicta Dynamos, and the Slovakian is joined by Elliott Dewey who has switched from the EPL’s Basingstoke Bison. Wightlink Raiders have signed Stevie Balmer who spent last season with Slough Jets in the EPL and Cardiff Devils in NIHL1S. Richard Nembhard is also back for another season on the island.

Jakub Klima and AJ Smith have agreed another campaign with London Raiders, while Michael Plenty, Tony Barclay, David Wride and Ilya Antonov are all back for a further year with Bracknell Hornets. Streatham Redskins have confirmed Head Coach Warren Rost has agreed a third season in charge.

In NIHL2S, Slough have signed Andy Cox from Oxford City Stars. Phil Dibble, Matt Thornhill and Adam Young all return for another season with Bristol Pitbulls.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Friday, 25 July 2014

NIHL round-up

NIHL North Moralee D1 champions Solway Sharks have started building for the upcoming season with Alan Crane (left) agreeing another season in Dumfries. Crane has also been appointed captain following Mark Gallagher's retirement.

Billingham Stars have confirmed Andy Munroe and Scott Ward to their roster, while Aaron Davies returns for another year with Blackburn Hawks. Callum Watson, Daniel Murdy and Joe Harley have all agreed another season with Whitley Warriors.

Prolific forward Chris Jones has agreed a further year with Deeside Dragons in Laidler D2, while promising youngster Ryan Jones has also been added to the roster. Coventry Blaze have made their first announcements of the summer, with Sam & Charlie Hammerton signing once again.

Widnes Wild have signed Sam Dunford and Stuart Ashton from the Hawks, while Tom Jackson returns for another campaign. Blackburn Eagles have added returnees Andrew Duxbury and James Riddoch to their squad.

In NIHL1 South, Anthony Leone is back for another season as Invicta Dynamos' captain, while Bracknell Hornets have signed Czech defenseman Valdemar Pelikovsk√Ĺ.

Oxford City Stars pair James Pentecost & Joe Edwards return for another year, while Dax Hedges rejoins the club after a season away from the game. Solent Devils have signed Drew Campbell from London Racers and Ben Lock from Wightlink Raiders. George Norcliffe and Steve Gosset have also agreed another year.

NIHL2S outfit Bristol Pitbulls have snapped up Josh Galea from Slough Jets, while Josh & Zach Dolphin join from Swindon Wildcats and Oxford respectively. Ian Shepherd, Perry Whitlock, Sean Martin and Sam Roberts have all agreed another year with Haringey Racers.

(Image permission: David Morrison)