Monday, 24 November 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 23rd November)

Jack McKay (left) celebrates his first Barons goal
Chelmsford Chieftains became the second NIHL South team to defeat EPL opponents in the British Challenge Cup with a 4-1 success against Bracknell Bees.

Blahoslav Novak (4) & Peter Szabo (3) led the scoring for Telford Tigers in their 12-1 win at Solway Sharks. Invicta Dynamos lost 7-1 at Bracknell and 9-1 at home to Guildford Flames.

Basingstoke Bison enjoyed a pair of home victories, winning 4-1 & 9-1 against Chelmsford and Wightlink Raiders respectively.

In NIHL1S, Wightlink won 6-1 at home to Bracknell Hornets. The visitors bounced back in style on home ice with an 8-4 victory against Cardiff NIHL1 – JJ Pitchley & Dan Rose both hit hat-tricks.

MK Thunder won 4-1 at home to Oxford City Stars, while London Raiders fell 5-1 at Cardiff. Raiders also suffered a 7-3 home defeat against Streatham Redskins in the D1 Cup.

Slough Jets are still unbeaten in NIHL2S after a 9-1 win at home to Lee Valley Lions. Swindon Wildcats NIHL drew 6-6 with Bristol Pitbulls. In the D2 Cup, Basingstoke Buffalo won 10-4 at Wightlink Tigers and Chelmsford Warriors drew 5-5 with Peterborough Islanders.

Blackburn Hawks remain three points clear at the top of NIHL1N after a 5-1 win at home to Solway Sharks. Billingham Stars secured a second successive league shut-out with a 3-0 home success against Sheffield Spartans. Whitley Warriors triumphed 4-0 at Sutton Sting.

NIHL2N leaders Solihull Barons hit double figures for the seventh time this season with a 10-2 win at home to Deeside Dragons – Josh Bruce (3) led their scoring. Sheffield Senators crashed 5-0 at Telford Tigers NIHL, but bounced back with a 4-3 home success against Nottingham Lions.

Widnes Wild enjoyed a productive weekend on home ice, securing a 3-1 victory over Nottingham and a 3-2 success against Telford. James Riddoch scored three for Blackburn Eagles in their 10-4 home win against Bradford Bulldogs.

Telford Tigers still lead the EPL after a 7-4 win at home to Peterborough Phantoms – Jason Silverthorn (2) & Joe Miller (2) were amongst Tigers' scorers. Manchester Phoenix lost 4-3 at Guildford, but recovered to win 3-2 after a shoot-out at home to MK Lightning – Tony Hand scored the decider.

Tomasz Malasinski & Aaron Nell both scored twice in Swindon Wildcats' 5-1 victory at Sheffield Steeldogs. James Ferrara's last minute goal sealed a 4-3 win for Peterborough at MK Lightning.

Sheffield Steelers are the new leaders of the Elite League. Steelers began the weekend with a 2-0 win at Braehead, but Clan gained their revenge the following evening with a 5-3 victory. Mathieu Roy's overtime strike against Coventry Blaze secured a 3-2 win and send Steelers top for the first time this season.

Nottingham Panthers won 5-3 at Fife Flyers, but failed to make it a four-point weekend as they slipped to a 4-3 overtime defeat on home ice against Dundee Stars. Cardiff Devils won 8-3 at Coventry and 10-0 at home to Edinburgh Capitals. Carl Lauzon's late empty netter capped a 5-3 win for Hull Stingrays at home to Dundee.

Belfast Giants bowed out of the Continental Cup at Semi-Final stage despite winning two of their three group games. Giants began with a 1-0 win against Neman Grodno (Belarus), before losing 2-1 to Angers (France).

A 5-3 victory against HK Sanok (Poland) wasn't enough as their goal difference and number of goals scored in the head-to-head games against Grodno and Angers were not enough to finish better than third in the table.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Friday, 21 November 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Solway Sharks continue the defence of their NIHL North crown on Sunday with a tricky looking trip to Blackburn Hawks.

Sharks made a slow start to their Moralee D1 campaign, but two wins earlier in the month have kept them in touch with the leading pack.

Head Coach Martin Grubb said: "We're looking forward to the game on Sunday and we want to keep our decent league form going.

"We've added depth by bringing Jens Engelen and Josh Hay in, and getting Frazer Goldie back is like a new signing so we now have more options in our line-up.

"Jared (Owen) has built a really good team and they've shown quality and consistency so we know this will be a tough game, but we go into it in a confident manner and will be looking to claw some points back and prove we're back in the title hunt.

"I'm sure it will be a close, physical game and it will be a good advert for our league and we will be ready to play and stop the Hawks unbeaten start in the league."

Billingham Stars are also in action on Sunday as they meet Sheffield Spartans, while Sutton Sting and Whitley Warriors face-off the previous day. The teams met at Hillheads earlier in the season, with Warriors sealing a 4-2 win, but Sting defenseman Scott Glover (above) believes they can gain revenge back on home ice.

"This season has been difficult so far," said Glover. "We've lost some good players over the summer, whilst adding a few new ones and it all takes time for them to gel.

"All the guys have work, family and other commitments so it's hard to set the lines as it's a different team each week. Matt (Darlow) is doing a great job and the 8-1 win against Billingham really showed what we can do when we turn a full team out.

"The losses at Whitley and Billingham were disappointing, but having gone with two lines we came out of both games with our heads held high. If we have a full team this weekend there’s no reason why we can't beat Whitley and grab those two valuable points."

There's one other game on Saturday, with Solway facing the EPL's Telford Tigers in the British Challenge Cup.

Widnes Wild bid to return to winning ways in Laidler D2 this weekend with two games on home ice. Wild face Nottingham Lions on Saturday, before meeting Telford Tigers NIHL the following day and forward Shaun Dippnall is targeting two victories.

"Last weekend we had two tough games, especially heading to Solihull with 11 skaters, but I still feel we were unlucky to come away from the weekend without any points," said Dippnall.

"This week we have another tough double-header facing Nottingham, who we always have good close games with, and Telford who we're a bit unsure about. Judging from their previous results they look like a very strong team. We're looking for four points but we know it will be a big ask."

Deeside Dragons travel to Solihull on Sunday looking to become the first team to take points off the runaway leaders. Forward Chris Jones bagged four goals in last week's win against Blackburn Eagles and he's looking forward to facing the Barons.

"Having played 17 games already I don't think we've had the best start to the season as our results show," said Jones. "We lost a few great players from last season, but we've added some great replacements.

"The team is starting to come together now and I think we'll start picking up a lot more wins. Most teams have improved so much from last season, and that has shown with us struggling to get going and losing some big games."

"We go to Solihull on Sunday which is a tough rink to go to, and with them not losing a game yet it's going to be very a hard game. I'd love to beat them in their own rink, but we'll have to be at our very best to have a chance of that."

The remaining D2 games see Telford play Sheffield Senators and the Eagles meet Bradford Bulldogs on Saturday, while Sens face-off against the Lions on Sunday.

(Image permission: Gary Apsley)

Monday, 17 November 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 16th November)

Sheffield Spartans returned to winning ways in NIHL North Moralee D1 with a 5-2 victory at home to Manchester Minotaurs – Stuart Brittle (2) led their scoring.

In the British Challenge Cup, Solway Sharks fell 10-2 at Manchester Phoenix and Billingham Stars lost 10-1 at home to Sheffield Steeldogs.

Laidler D2 leaders Solihull Barons remain unbeaten after a 9-5 success against Widnes Wild.

Telford Tigers NIHL boosted their promotion hopes with a four-point weekend. James Smith scored twice in their 5-1 home victory against Coventry Blaze, while Karol Jets & Joe Aston both scored two in a 6-0 win at Sheffield Senators.

Sens held on to second place with a 4-3 win at home to Widnes. Deeside enjoyed a 7-5 home success against Blackburn Eagles – Chris Jones (above) scored four for the Dragons. Nottingham Lions won 7-1 on home ice against Hull Jets.

Chelmsford Chieftains moved two points clear at the top of NIHL1 South with a pair of victories. Chieftains won 6-4 at London Raiders and followed up with a 2-0 home success against Wightlink Raiders.

Streatham Redskins stay second after a 7-1 win at Solent Devils, while Invicta Dynamos move into third after a 9-3 success at Cardiff NIHL1 and a 2-1 victory at home to MK Thunder. Alex Murray's hat-trick goal in the final minute sealed a 6-5 win for Solent at Wightlink. Oxford City Stars won 2-1 against MK Thunder.

Slough Jets retained their 100% record in NIHL2S with an 8-2 win at Invicta Mustangs. Peterborough Islanders won 10-2 against the Mustangs, while Basingstoke Buffalo won by the odd goal in three at home to Cardiff NIHL2.

In the D2 Cup, Chelmsford Warriors won 5-3 at home to Swindon Wildcats NIHL and 4-2 at Bristol Pitbulls. Wightlink Tigers fell 4-3 on home ice against Haringey Racers.

Telford Tigers are eight points clear at the top of the EPL after another successful weekend. Tigers won 6-3 at MK Lightning and followed up with a 6-1 home victory against Basingstoke Bison. Two Aaron Connolly goals kept Bison in second place after a 2-1 win at home to Swindon Wildcats.

Guildford Flames had a miserable time on the road, losing 5-4 at Peterborough Phantoms and 5-3 at Manchester Phoenix. Phantoms also won 2-0 at Bracknell Bees. Sheffield Steeldogs lost 4-3 at Bracknell and Swindon fell 3-1 at home to MK Lightning.

Evan Cheverie sent Belfast Giants back to the top of the Elite League with the decider in a 2-1 home success against Nottingham Panthers. Sheffield Steelers enjoyed a productive weekend on home ice, after a 4-2 win against the Giants and a 4-1 victory over Braehead Clan.

Cardiff Devils won 3-2 after a shoot-out at Nottingham and 5-4 at home to Dundee Stars. Chris Auger hit a hat-trick for Fife Flyers in their 6-2 home success against Braehead, but they failed to follow up after slipping to a 4-3 defeat at Edinburgh. That result sealed a rare four-point weekend for the Capitals who also won 3-2 at Dundee.

In the Elite Challenge Cup, Coventry Blaze won 4-3 at home to Hull Stingrays, but fell by the same scoreline after a shoot-out in the reverse fixture.

(Image permission: PSD-Images)

Friday, 14 November 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Sheffield Spartans bid to return to winning ways in NIHL North this weekend as they welcome Manchester Minotaurs to IceSheffield.

Spartans made a solid start to their Moralee D1 campaign, losing just one of their opening four games, but defeats in recent weeks to Blackburn Hawks and Solway Sharks have seen them drop to sixth in the table.

Although Saturday's opponents are still without a point this season, defenseman Jonathan Kirk is taking nothing for granted.

"There are no easy games in the league this year and with the shortened season, there's less room for error," said Kirk. "We need to start putting points on the board and Manchester won't be light work.

"They've taken leads into the second period, but seem to run out of legs towards the end of games, so we'll be looking to set them back and gain an early lead.

"We've noticeably improved from last season with the addition of a few younger players such as Ben Jones and Charlie Thompson, plus a few of the guys returning from time out of the game. We've had a few results go against us with big scores that don't really reflect how we're playing. We just seem to be getting punished for minor lapses of concentration and we're working hard to fix it.

"We showed in the games against Whitley and our first home fixture against Solway that when we play the full 60 minutes of a game we can compete with anyone, but the task now is to play every game like that. Our goal is to make the play-offs and I personally think if we don't we've disappointed as a team."

Two D1 teams are in British Challenge Cup action this weekend, with Solway travelling to the EPL's Manchester Phoenix on Saturday, while Billingham stars face-off against Sheffield Steeldogs the following evening.

In Laidler D2, Telford Tigers NIHL face a weekend double-header as they look to close the gap on leaders Solihull Barons. On Saturday they host Coventry Blaze, before a trip to second-placed Sheffield Senators on Sunday.

Both of Telford's previous games against those sides have ended in narrow one-goal wins, and Head Coach Scott McKenzie is expecting more of the same this weekend.

He said: "Coventry are a tough side, despite their league position, and have a lot of experience in their line-up. It will be a very tough game at home against them. Sheffield are also a very hard-working team. We beat them by the odd goal at the start of the season, but they've improved a lot.

"We've also made a lot of improvements as well, so it should be an exciting game. With having a few weeks without games, we've been working the guys pretty hard at training. I'm really happy with the way they've responded. The whole squad is excited to get back into some game time. Hopefully we'll end the weekend with another four points."

Sens are also in action on Saturday with a home game against Widnes Wild. The remaining D2 games are all on Sunday, with Solihull meeting Widnes, Deeside Dragons facing-off against Blackburn Eagles and Nottingham Lions playing Hull Jets.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Sheffield Winter Classic 2014 - The Managers

The inaugural Sheffield Winter Classic may never hit the heights of its NHL namesake, but for those involved it's a very special event in its own right.

Sheffield Spartans and Sheffield Senators are scheduled to face each other over Christmas for their first ever competitive game, and organisers are eagerly anticipating an evening they hope will showcase ice hockey in the city.

Lynn Faber, Spartans' Team Manager, said: "Expectations, hopes and dreams, the future - this game is not just a game to all involved; it's something special, something to build on and grow with.

"Sheffield has always had strong connections with their teams; it's one of the things I love about the hockey and connection we have. Right from the days of Queens Road; everyone knew everyone and the family feel has been tangible.

"This game will bring some of that together with a game of hockey that will be a tough affair, with both teams wanting to hold the trophy for the first time. The buzz of excitement around the game, sharing on social media, the chatter around the rink, the ideas and agenda all coming together in the final stages of organisation is extremely exciting to be part of.

"Everyone involved has already done above and beyond what was discussed at our first meeting. Our target crowd of 500 supporters may have seemed like a pipe dream to some in the early days - now we feel it's almost an understatement.

"Of course I'll be looking for a Spartans win, but I've known the players from both teams for far too many years to remember and they're all great lads. I personally can't wait for the game. I’m excited, anxious and nervous - but as with everything, if you're not you shouldn't be doing it.

"For the future, I hope it's a huge success and becomes an annual event at IceSheffield over the Christmas period. Let's become something other teams and leagues talk about.

"Lynn's counterpart at the Senators, Barbara Walker, added: "I'm very excited about the Winter Classic. It will be a great game of hockey played with true Sheffield passion - a passion that runs right through from the juniors up to our two senior teams.

"At the start of the season this fixture was on neither team's calendar, but ever since it was agreed to play each other the expectations have been for a very competitive game.

"Looking at the two teams Spartans should be the favourites, but the Senators are having an exceptional season and if they continue playing with their true grit, determination and passion, anything can happen. We are a hustle quick and never quit team, but we are a family and this brings the best out of each other - we play with heart and as a team.

"There's no limit to what can be accomplished and only the day will tell this, but I'm sure the fire will be burning in our boys bellies and we'll go there for the win. As long as everyone goes out there, plays their best and enjoys the game, that's all we can ask for. It promises to be a great game and one to enjoy for any ice hockey fan, regardless of which team they support.

"I just want everyone to enjoy the day and in that regard there can only be one winner - Sheffield Ice Hockey! A big thank you to everyone who has put their time and effort into organising this day, it will be great occasion."

The Sheffield Winter Classic takes place on Saturday, 27 December. For further details please click here.

Monday, 10 November 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 9th November)

NIHL1 South outfit Invicta Dynamos pulled off the first shock in this season’s British Challenge Cup with victory over the EPL's Bracknell Bees.

Dynamos' all-time record points scorer Andy Smith (left) was the hero with a hat-trick in a 6-4 success. Guildford forward Jozef Kohut scored three in Flames' 7-0 win at Wightlink Raiders.

Chelmsford Chieftains stay top of NIHL1S after a 3-2 win at home to Solent Devils. Juraj Huska (2) & Frankie Harvey (2) led the scoring as Invicta won 8-3 at Oxford City Stars.

Streatham Redskins won by the odd goal in eleven at Wightlink, while MK Thunder eased to a 5-2 victory at home to Solent. London Raiders had a miserable weekend, losing 5-0 at Cardiff NIHL and 8-1 at Bracknell Hornets.

Slough Jets retained their 100% NIHL2S record with a 5-0 win at home to Peterborough Islanders. Invicta Mustangs fell 5-3 at Lee Valley Lions and Peterborough ran out 3-1 winners at home to Chelmsford Warriors. In the D2 Cup, Swindon Wildcats NIHL won 5-3 at Bristol Pitbulls.

Solway Sharks' recent return to form continued as they enjoyed success on two fronts. Richard Bentham scored a couple in their 4-1 win at home to Sheffield Spartans in NIHL1N and they followed up with a 1-0 victory at Whitley Warriors to secure silverware with a 5-1 aggregate success in the St Andrews Cup.

James Spurr (2) & Nat Rose (2) led the way for Sutton Sting as they condemned Billingham Stars to an 8-1 defeat, but the Teessiders bounced back with a 2-0 success in the reverse fixture. Alex Lawson scored twice in Whitley Warriors' 5-1 win at Manchester Minotaurs.

Solihull Barons still lead the way in NIHL2N after a comfortable 10-2 victory at Coventry Blaze – Thomas Soar hit a hat-trick. Deeside Dragons slipped to a 4-2 defeat at Widnes Wild, but recovered to win 3-1 at home to Nottingham Lions. Blackburn Eagles raced into an early 3-0 lead at home to Hull Jets, but the visitors roared back to claim a 5-3 victory.

EPL leaders Telford Tigers crashed 4-0 at Swindon Wildcats, but bounced back in style on home ice with an 8-2 win against Sheffield Steeldogs. Basingstoke Bison won 3-2 at home to MK Lightning, but failed to follow up as they crashed 8-3 at Manchester Phoenix.

Aaron Nell hit the winner for Swindon as they triumphed 3-2 after a shoot-out at MK Lightning, while Darius Pliskauskas notched the game winning goal for Peterborough Phantoms in their 3-2 shoot-out success at Sheffield. Guildford won 5-3 at home Peterborough and Bracknell Bees secured a 3-1 victory at home to Manchester.

Braehead Clan moved back to the top of the Elite League after a pair of wins against Coventry Blaze. Stefan Meyer scored twice in their 4-2 home success, while Scott Pitt hit the decider in a 4-3 road win. Belfast Giants won 7-4 at home to Cardiff, but the Devils gained their revenge in the return with a narrow 3-2 victory.

Nottingham Panthers enjoyed a 7-2 home win against Sheffield Steelers, but they couldn’t make it a four-point weekend as they surprisingly fell 5-3 at Edinburgh Capitals. Steelers bounced back with a 6-1 win at home to Fife Flyers. John Mitchell scored three in Dundee Stars’ 6-4 win at Hull, but the Stingrays recovered with a 4-3 success in the reverse fixture. Fife won 4-1 at home to Edinburgh.

(Image permission: David Trevallion)

Friday, 7 November 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Jens Engelen makes his first appearance on home ice for Solway Sharks on Saturday, as the reigning NIHL North champions welcome Sheffield Spartans to Dumfries.

The 22-year-old defenseman (left) made an immediate impact on his Moralee D1 debut last weekend, picking up an assist as Sharks ran out 5-1 winners at Sutton Sting.

The Belgian international has arrived in Scotland with an impressive CV. He made his senior debut aged 14, going on to claim a title-winning medal with HYC Herentals in 2008/09.

The following season saw Engelen move to Tilburg Trappers in the Dutch Eredivisie, but he returned to Herentals in 2010 as they joined the Dutch league set-up. In his five years playing in the Netherlands, Engelen made almost 200 appearances.

In addition to his domestic career, Engelen has also represented his country from U18 through to senior level, playing in 14 world championship competitions.

He commented: "Representing my country is great - I love going to championships! I also played against Josh (Hay) a couple of times. I was surprised in a good way to see that I was going to play in the same team with him because he was always a guy to watch at championships.

"Coming to Scotland is my first time being away from home and will help me grow up even more. I like to practice and do some power skating and stick handling. I'm planning on going on the ice as many times as possible. Hopefully I will improve and get as high and as far as I possibly can.

"I have good experience playing in a good league and playing all those championships. I think I can help the Sharks get better in the D-zone. Strong defence wins hockey games I believe.

"I think every player in our team is really important. They all have their role and if we all play our role in the team, and stick together as we can, we'll be a good team. I kept my eyes on Josh a lot since I've played against him a couple times and he puts in a lot of work during games, at practices and off the ice."

The remaining D1 games on Saturday see Sutton host Billingham Stars, while Manchester Minotaurs meet Whitley Warriors. Stars and Sting face each other again at Billingham Forum on Sunday.

In Laidler D2, leaders Solihull Barons travel to Coventry Blaze on Saturday and Widnes Wild play Deeside Dragons. Blackburn Eagles host Hull Jets on Sunday, while Nottingham Lions look to bounce back from last week's defeat on home ice to the Dragons as they travel to Deeside.

Lions led 2-1 going into the final period, but Dragons rallied to secure a 4-2 success. Head Coach Matt Bradbury is hoping to see his team put up a much better showing this weekend.

"We didn't play well last week, but the good thing is we get a chance to get straight back at Deeside in their own barn," said Bradbury. "If it means something to the guys, they'll hopefully be smarting from the way they played, so hopefully they'll come out and give a better performance."

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Sheffield Winter Classic 2014

Sheffield is set to host its first Winter Classic as the Spartans and Senators battle for NIHL North bragging rights.

This will be the very first competitive game between the two Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy (SIHA) senior teams, but organisers hope to make it an annual Christmas event.

Moralee D1 outfit Spartans are in their 10th season in NIHL and have enjoyed their fair share of success during that time. The current squad feature a number of familiar names in Sheffield ice hockey circles including Stuart Brittle, Nick Manning and Ollie & Will Barron.

Senators were formed in 2010 and are currently pushing for promotion from Laidler D2. Some of the present day Spartans passed through the Senators' ranks before moving up.

Head Coach Andy Ellis has assembled a strong roster this term, with the likes of Tom Humphries, Nathan Britton and Josh Gent posing a considerable goal threat.

SIHA Chairman Joe Walker said: "This Winter Classic is a first for the club's two senior teams, but it has the makings of a good competitive clash and one I hope the fans of both teams look forward to watching.

"It will be played in the right spirit and the teams will put on a game to remember. They say Christmas is a time for giving - well that's what is in store from both teams as they will be giving their all in the Sheffield Winter Classic."

A specially-designed Spartans/Senators hockey shirt, signed by all the players, is just one of the raffle prizes on offer at the event, which also features an U14 exhibition game.

For further information please click here.

Monday, 3 November 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 2nd November)

Reigning NIHL North champions Solway Sharks bounced back to form with an impressive performance at Sutton Sting. Struan Tonnar (2) led Sharks' scoring as they ran out 5-1 winners in their Moralee D1 clash.

Solihull Barons retained their 100% Laidler D2 record with a 13-2 success at Blackburn Eagles. Sheffield Senators enjoyed a four-point weekend with 5-1 home victories against Deeside Dragons and Coventry Blaze.

Nottingham Lions won 4-2 at Hull Jets, but failed to follow up on home ice as they lost by the same scoreline to Deeside. Filip Supa scored four for Widnes Wild as they triumphed 7-3 at Coventry, while a late Lee Pollitt goal secured a 5-5 draw at home to Hull.

Chelmsford Chieftains moved to the top of NIHL1 South with a 7-4 win at Streatham Redskins. Anthony Leone & Callum Fowler both hit hat-tricks in Invicta Dynamos' 7-3 win at home to Cardiff NIHL1. Bracknell Hornets won 6-3 on home ice against Oxford City Stars, but fell 3-2 in the reverse fixture. Alex Murray grabbed the decider as Solent Devils won 5-4 at London Raiders.

Peterborough Islanders made it three NIHL2S wins in a row with a 5-1 home victory against Lee Valley Lions. Wightlink Tigers won 7-2 at Swindon Wildcats NIHL and Haringey Racers won 7-3 at home to Invicta Mustangs. In the D2 Cup, Slough Jets won 3-2 against Haringey and 6-1 at Basingstoke Buffalo.

Shaun Thompson (3) led the scoring for Manchester Phoenix as they cruised to an 8-0 win at Blackburn Hawks in the British Challenge Cup. Billingham Stars were also shut-out as they lost 7-0 at Sheffield Steeldogs. Swindon Wildcats won 3-0 at Wightlink Raiders and 9-1 at home to Invicta Dynamos. Wightlink also lost 3-2 at Chelmsford.

Telford Tigers moved six points clear at the top of the EPL after collecting a pair of wins. Nathan Salem hit a hat-trick in their 8-2 road win against the Steeldogs and they followed up with a 3-2 home victory against Bracknell Bees.

Guildford Flames started the week in impressive fashion with an 11-0 demolition of the Steeldogs. Two final period goals from Adam Carr condemned Flames to a 3-2 defeat at MK Lightning, but they recovered in style with a 6-3 home win against Basingstoke Bison.

Lightning lost 5-4 after overtime at Swindon, but Milan Kostourek’s late goal secured a 6-5 win at Peterborough Phantoms. Edgars Bebris (2) & Luke Ferrara (2) got the goals as Phantoms won 4-3 at Manchester. Basingstoke won 4-2 at home to Bracknell.

Belfast Giants are the new Elite League leaders. Giants followed up a 7-2 win at Coventry Blaze with a 4-1 home victory against Braehead Clan, but they missed the opportunity to move two points clear of Clan after falling 5-1 at Coventry. Clan’s miserable week in the league was completed as they lost 6-2 at Hull Stingrays.

Sheffield Steelers had a mixed weekend, winning 10-2 at Edinburgh Capitals before slipping to a surprise 4-2 reverse at Dundee Stars. Nottingham Panthers won 3-1 on home ice against Coventry and 2-1 at Cardiff Devils. Fife Flyers made it four wins from their last five games with home successes against Hull and Edinburgh.

In the Elite Challenge Cup, Braehead won 3-0 at home to Dundee – Ben Davies, Matt Keith & Scott Pitt got the goals.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Sharks sign Belgian international

Solway Sharks have signed Belgian international defenseman Jens Engelen from HYC Herentals.

Jens is a 6ft 3ins left-handed defenseman and is a player who has a huge amount of experience at both club and international level. He has played in the Continental Cup and represented Belgium in 14 IIHF World Championships at U18, U20 and senior level.

Jens has previously played for Tilburg Trappers in the Dutch Eredivisie and also HYC Herentals in the Belgian league and is regarded as one of the top up and coming young defensemen in Europe.

Sharks Head Coach Martin Grubb was delighted to have signed Jens: "We've been looking for an import defenseman since we lost Juraj (Senko), but we really wanted the right guy and were prepared to wait.

"We spoke to Daniel at Advance Sports Management and he brought Jens to our attention and we're delighted to be able to bring him here. Jens is a smooth skating, physically imposing player who, even at 23, brings a wealth of experience and is no stranger to winning which is a key characteristic for us.

"He will continue to get better with the ice time he will get here and he is hungry to play at the very top so we will be looking to help him in achieving that goal. Any player who has played in 14 world championships is going to be a big help to this team and I can't wait to start working with Jens.

"Scott McMeeken and Rab Murray have been vital in talking to Daniel at ASM and between us we think we have managed to bring a player of real quality to the Sharks and also the NIHL and I'd like to thank them all for their hard work on this signing."

Jens made his Sharks debut Sutton Sting yesterday, picking up an assist in a 5-1 victory.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Friday, 31 October 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

The focus in NIHL North switches to the British Challenge Cup this weekend, with two Moralee D1 teams tackling EPL opposition.

Blackburn Hawks host Manchester Phoenix on Sunday, while Billingham Stars travel to Sheffield Steeldogs, and both are hoping to spring a surprise.

Hawks enter the weekend full of confidence after two comprehensive wins last week and defenseman Ollie Lomax is delighted with their current form.

"Our main aim was to achieve four points against Spartans & Stars and that's exactly what we got," said Lomax.

"It started on Thursday when we ran through our approach to the weekend - everyone was on their game and practice went well.

"We all agreed the bigger game was in IceSheffield as we historically struggle in that building, contrary to our form against the Stars on home ice.

"Our preparation was dented by the introduction of the new bench coach rule which meant we were killing a penalty from the off, but we did and then took control of the game. We put it to bed in the first and although Sheffield came back hard we took momentum into Sunday's game.

"We've seemed to have had the Stars' number at our rink over the last half dozen games, so we went into the game confident and wanting to send out a message. I thought the 'juiceplusline' certainly did that and with those guys leading from the front it makes it so much easier for the rest of us.

"Conceding just two goals over both games was a testament to our defensive play. The way Stuey Ashton played between the pipes showed just how great he is – he's not just a good back-up, but a big part of what we do. With two solid 8-1 wins we achieved our aim set on Thursday, but those points are gone now, so it's onto the next game."

Stars' netminder James Flavell (above) missed last week's game at Blackburn, but he's hoping to see his team bounce back this weekend.

He said: "We've made a good start to the season, but we're still trying to develop consistency between games. We have a great squad but other teams have strengthened, so we have to work hard to try and maintain a string of results.

"It's been great to be involved in the new Challenge Cup competition and we have put up some strong performances against some of the top sides in the EPL. I think if we continue to do that and some more bounces go our way we'll continue to tighten up these scorelines.

"Obviously we're hoping to cause an upset along the way. We know we're up against it, but we definitely feel we've got what it takes to get a result our way in these games."

There's just one D1 game this weekend with Sutton Sting facing Solway Sharks.

In Laidler D2, Solihull Barons put their 100% record on the line on Saturday as they travel to face Blackburn Eagles. Please click here to listen to Barons' Head Coach Darren Bellerby's thoughts on the current state of play at Hobs Moat Road.

The remaining Saturday games see Sheffield Senators face-off against Deeside Dragons, Coventry Blaze meet Widnes Wild and Hull Jets host Nottingham Lions. Senators are in home action again on Sunday as they welcome Coventry to IceSheffield. The weekend line-up is completed with Widnes entertaining Hull, while Nottingham face Deeside.

(Image permission: Dean Reeve)

Monday, 27 October 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 26th October)

NIHL North leaders Blackburn Hawks moved five points clear at the top of Moralee D1 after a pair of comfortable victories.

Hawks triumphed 8-1 at Sheffield Spartans and followed up with a win by the same scoreline at home to Billingham Stars. Sutton Sting also won 8-1 at Manchester Minotaurs.

James Smith (left) enjoyed a productive weekend as Telford Tigers NIHL continued their excellent form in Laidler D2.

Smith scored four in Tigers' 9-6 win at Bradford Bulldogs, and his second of the night at Deeside secured a 4-3 success against the Dragons.

Sheffield Senators won 9-5 at home to Hull Jets, Coventry Blaze crashed 10-3 at Nottingham Lions and Widnes Wild eased to a 13-3 victory at Bradford.

Streatham Redskins still lead NIHL1 South after an 8-5 win at home to Oxford City Stars. Cameron Bartlett hit a hat-trick in Chelmsford Chieftains' 7-3 success at Oxford.

Piotr Poziomkowski (4) & Jamie Line (4) led the scoring as MK Thunder won 11-5 at home to London Raiders. The defeat completed a miserable weekend for London as they also fell 6-2 at home to Wightlink Raiders. Invicta Dynamos won 9-5 at home to Solent Devils. Streatham drew 4-4 with Invicta in the D1 Cup.

Slough Jets maintained their unbeaten NIHL2S record with a 3-1 win at Chelmsford Warriors. Nathan Pollard scored five in Peterborough Islanders' 13-2 win at home to Haringey Racers. Lee Valley Lions won 8-2 at Invicta Mustangs, Bristol Pitbulls lost 4-3 on home ice against Wightlink Tigers and Cardiff NIHL2 won 5-0 at home to Swindon Wildcats NIHL.

In the British Challenge Cup, Michal Psurny & Jack Watkins both hit hat-tricks for Manchester Phoenix in their 11-0 victory at Solway Sharks. MK Lightning won 7-4 at Chelmsford Chieftains.

Telford Tigers remain top of the EPL after a four-point weekend. Scott McKenzie scored twice in their 4-1 home success against Guildford Flames and they followed up with a 3-2 overtime win at Manchester – Jason Silverthorn grabbed a hat-trick.

Basingstoke Bison lost 6-4 at MK Lightning, but bounced back to win 4-2 at Swindon Wildcats. Sheffield Steeldogs won 5-2 at Swindon and 6-2 at home to Peterborough Phantoms. Bracknell Bees lost 4-3 after overtime at Peterborough, but recovered in style with a 4-1 home victory against Guildford.

Braehead Clan extended their lead at the top of the Elite League to four points with a pair of wins against Edinburgh Capitals. Clan won 3-1 on home ice and followed up with a 9-4 road victory.

Nottingham Panthers extended their winning run to five with a trio of victories. They followed up a 5-2 home success against Edinburgh with a pair of 4-3 overtime wins against Belfast Giants and Dundee Stars. Colton Fretter hit a hat-trick in Sheffield Steelers' 6-2 win at home to Edinburgh and they completed a successful week with a 4-1 victory against Hull Stingrays.

Fife Flyers had a mixed weekend, winning 5-0 at home to Dundee before falling to a 3-1 loss at Hull. Cardiff Devils won 6-3 on home ice against Coventry Blaze and they followed up with a 4-0 success against the same opponents in the Elite Challenge Cup.

(Image permission: Telford Tigers)