Wednesday, 22 July 2015

NIHL round-up

Solihull Barons have appointed Perry Doyle (left) as their new Director of Hockey Operations ahead of the upcoming NIHL1 North season.

The popular defenseman takes over at the helm following Darren Bellerby's decision to step down as Head Coach due to work commitments.

Barons have also confirmed Josh Bruce, Joe Henry, Tomas Janak and Ryan Selwood have all agreed another season at Hobs Moat Road.

GB U18 netminder Denis Bell has signed for a second year with Telford Tigers NIHL.

Brad Betteridge, Joe Aston and Josh Hustwick are amongst seven other players to agree a further season with the Tigers.

Craig Mitchell and Joe Coulter are back for another year with Solway Sharks, whilst netminder Mark Watson has agreed a fifth season in Billingham Stars' colours.

In D2N, Deeside Dragons have snapped up Filip Supa from Widnes Wild. Marc Lovell, James Parsons and Matt Compton all return for another campaign in North Wales.

Bobby Caunce has left Widnes to join Blackburn Eagles, whilst Jordan Ashington and Aaron Jordan have agreed another season the Lancashire club. Wild have boosted their ranks with the addition of Sheldon Cassidy.

Altrincham Aces have added Thomas Revesz, Aran Fox, Jorge El-Hage and Harry Greaves to their roster. Antti Kohvakka has agreed a seventh season with Coventry Blaze. James Lindley, Mark Morrison and Jacob Smith have also joined the squad.

Wightlink Raiders forward Corey Watkins and defenseman Nick Compton have agreed a fourth NIHL1S season with the club. Raiders have also signed Alex Sampford from Solent Devils and Matt Lawday from D2S outfit Basingstoke Buffalo.

Oxford City Stars have announced their two imports for the coming season, with Andrew Magee making the switch from Solent and Andrew Bates joining from Worcester State University, USA.

Defensemen Tom Avery, James Clarke, Sam Arnold and Jake Florey have all agreed a return to the Stars' roster, but Mason Wild has left the club to join Solent. Cam Barker, Ilya Antinov and Harvey Hind-Pitcher return for another year with Bracknell Hornets.

D2S title hopefuls Slough Jets have signed Richard Smith from Invicta Mustangs, whilst James Sanderson has agreed a third season at the Hangar.

Bristol Pitbulls have confirmed five more returnees, with Mike Hargreaves, Sam Shone, Tom Egerton, Phil Dibble and Matt Thornhill all returning for another year.

Alastair Band, Lee Hounslow, Mark Saunders, Ricky Mills and Ben Osborne have all agreed a further season with Haringey Racers. Luke Tull also joins the club from Wightlink Tigers. Cardiff Fire have tempted veteran forward Alan Armour out of retirement.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

NIHL round-up

Sutton Sting have announced a new coaching team ahead of the upcoming NIHL1 North season.

John Ross has been appointed as the club's new Player/Coach and he will be assisted by ex-Sheffield Scimitars forward Dean Smith.

Previous Head Coach Matt Darlow will oversee junior development.

Sting co-owner Ian Johnson said: "Last year was a real tough ask for Matt. We struggled with commitment, sometimes icing as few as ten players.

"The league is constantly getting better and we needed to make a few changes in the quest for improvement.

"John signed last year and did as well as expected after such a long time away from the game. One thing that stood out was his leadership skills and the respect he received from the lads.

"Dean has some major high level senior experience both as a player and a coach, and after supporting the senior team behind the scenes last term he jumped at the chance to be involved this season."

Johnson also confirmed that forward Slav Movko has agreed another season with the club. The Latvian missed a number of games last year due to work commitments and travel issues, but Sting have secured a new sponsor for Movko which will see him live and work in Sheffield.

Billingham Stars have signed Swedish forward Dennis Alexander Boström from Norwegian First Division side Narvik IK. Boström (above) previously iced for IF Björklöven and Tegs SK in Swedish Division One before joining Narvik and Stars' General Manager Allen Flavell is expecting big things from his new signing.

"This is great news for the club," said Flavell. "Dennis is a big physical forward with plenty of hockey experience behind him – he's looking to show the fans at Billingham what he can do.

"After a long stint in his home town of Umeå, Dennis decided to go to Norway for one year. Now he's keen to move on and he thinks England will be a good challenge and opportunity for him. He is looking forward to coming and can't wait for the season to start."

Stars have also confirmed James Flavell, Matty Campbell, Tom Keeley and Ben Davison all return for another season.

Forwards Ben Richards and Callum Watson and young blueliner Liam Smedley have all been added to Whitley Warriors roster for the forthcoming season. Aaron Davies and Tom King are back for another year with Blackburn Hawks.

Dan Croft, Karol Jets, James Smith and Macaulay Heywood have agreed another season with Telford Tigers NIHL, and forward Adam Taylor joins the roster whilst also remaining available for their EPL outfit.

In NIHL2N, Blackburn Eagles have signed Chris Jones from Deeside Dragons. Netminder Phil Crosby is back for his second year with the club. Matt Wainwright returns to the Dragons after a season with Widnes Wild.

Filip Supa and Pavel Vales have agreed another year with Wild. Michal Fico has also been added to the roster. Brian Worrall, Dan Berry and Philip Proudlove all return for another year with the newly-branded Altrincham Aces. Coventry Blaze have confirmed twelve players to their roster including returnees Dale Buckland, Lui Brindle and Luke Smith.

Last season's NIHL1S runners-up Invicta Dynamos have snapped up defenseman Michal Benadik. The Slovakian joins the Kent club after making over 120 Elite League appearances during two spells with Edinburgh Capitals. Dynamos have also added Steve Nightingale and Andrew Henderson to their ranks.

Streatham Redskins have signed David Wride from Bracknell Hornets and James Warman from D2S outfit Bristol Pitbulls. Evander Grinnell Parke, Liam Rasmussen and David Carr all return for another year. Stewart Tait has the Redksins to join the Hornets. Joining Tait in Bracknell will be Czech Republic defenseman Tomas Fojtik who returns to the ice after a year away from the game.

Sam Roberts has joined London Raiders from D2 club Haringey Racers, while Wightlink welcome back Bobby Streetley and Ben Paynter for another season. Harrison and Connor Goode have agreed a further year with MK Thunder.

Solent Devils quartet Jamie Fitzpatrick, George Norcliffe, Sam Rudkin and Christian Cole all return for another campaign. Devils have also signed young forward Alex Trendall. The ex-Wightlink winger returns to England following a season with Tampa Bay Juniors in the USPHL.

D2S title hopefuls Slough Jets have added Liam Underdown to their roster, while Bristol have agreed another year with Grant Richardson and Janne Virtanen.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

NIHL round-up

Sharks return for Senko
Solway Sharks have confirmed the signing of defenseman Juraj Senko for the NIHL1 North 2015/16 season.

The Slovakian returns to Dumfries after a year playing for Lokomotiv Fana IHK in Norway, where he notched an impressive 59 Points in 19 games.

Sharks have also signed netminder Craig Douglas from SNL club Kirkcaldy Kestrels, while Ross Murray, Struan Tonnar, Alan Crane and Stevie Moore return for another year. Richard Bentham has left the club to join Blackburn Hawks.

Canadian import forward Andre Payette has signed for Whitley Warriors. Payette has a wealth of Elite League and EPL experience for a number of top UK teams including Newcastle Vipers, Manchester Phoenix and Sheffield Steeldogs. Jordan Barnes, Alex Lawson and Martin Crammond have all agreed another season at Hillheads.

Billingham Stars have announced six returnees from last year's roster, with Andy Munroe, Chris Sykes, Scott Ward, Jamie Pattison, Luke Brown and Jack Davies all back for another season. Defenseman Matt Sellers also returns to the fold after three years away from the game.

In D2N Kieran Strangeway, Ben Brown and Josh Benstead have agreed a further year with Widnes Wild, while Robyn Crebbin has been confirmed as Head Coach of the newly-branded Altrincham Aces.

NIHL1 South champions Chelmsford Chieftains have signed Czech defenseman Lukas Zatopek for his second season at the Riverside. Bailey Wootton has rejoined Invicta Dynamos after a spell with London Raiders, while Nicky Lewis and Harrison Lillis have both agreed a further year with the club.

Frankie Harvey has returned to London after spending part of last term with Invicta. Raiders have also confirmed Liam Chong and Jack Cooper are back for another year.

Streatham Redskins' trio Robbie Brown, Adam Wood and Will Sanderson have agreed another season, while Michael Ranby switches to the club from Chelmsford. Dan Rose and Jordan Gregory have joined Wightlink Raiders from Bracknell Hornets, while Craig Tribe and Chris Cooke return for another year with the islanders.

Hornets have confirmed the signing of experienced Canadian forward Greg Chambers. Slovakian Peter Jasik has agreed another season with the club along with blueliners Luke Reynolds and Matt Jordan. Hornets have also added Danny House, Brandon Miles and Josh Martin to their roster.

Oxford City Stars have signed Steve Osman from D2S outfit Bristol Pitbulls. Stars have also snapped up netminder Connor Ranby from Coventry Blaze. MK Thunder forwards Josh Nicklin and Thomas Castle are back for another year, along with the vastly experienced defenseman Simon Howard.

Cardiff NIHL1 captain Chris has agreed another campaign with the club, while Solent Devils forward Alex Sampford returns for a second season.

In D2S Josh & Zach Dolphin, John Dibble, Chris Moore and Josh Galea all return for another year with Bristol.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

NIHL round-up

It's been another busy couple of weeks for player signings and transfers in NIHL1 South.

Reigning play-off champions Wightlink Raiders have confirmed top import Jaroslav Cesky has agreed a second season with the club, while promising defenseman Brendan Baird moves to the island after a year in the EPL with Basingstoke Bison.

Streatham Resdkins have signed blueliner Ryan Giles from Chelmsford Chieftains, while Joe Johnston and Joe Allen return for another season.

Danny Hammond, James Ayling and Sean Barry are all back for a further year with the Cheiftains, but young forward Bailey Chittock has joined London Raiders.

Mason Webster also makes the switch to London from the EPL's Peterborough Phantoms along with Sebastian Downing from D2S outfit Chelmsford Warriors, while netminder Michael Gray is back for another season. Jacob Ranson has left the club to sign for Invicta Dynamos.

Bracknell Hornets have confirmed a trio of returnees, with Tom Fisher, Ryan Handisides and Mark Duffy all back for another campaign. Danny Milton has also moved to the Hornets after an impressive season in D2S with Slough Jets.

Stephen Gosset, Alex Cole and Shaun Rudkin have agreed another season with Solent Devils, while Alan Green, Andy Cox, Josh Florey and Mike Whillock are back for a further year with Oxford City Stars.

NIHL1N champions Blackburn Hawks have confirmed Adam Brittle will return for his third season with the club. Billingham Stars duo Michael Bowman (above) and Richie Thornton are back for another year with the Teessiders. Dan Pye, Josh Maddock and Callum Queenan have all agreed a further season with Whitley Warriors.

In D2N, Widnes Wild have confirmed Matt Wainwright is back for his second season, while forward Chris Gee has also been added to the roster. Gee returns to the UK after spending a year in Canada playing for Da Byes in the Calgary Men's Hockey Association League.

(Image permission: Dean Reeve)

Friday, 5 June 2015

NIHL round-up

Reigning NIHL1 South champions Chelmsford Chieftains have added six more players to their roster ahead of the 2015/16 season.

Ross Brears, Alex Staples and Cameron Bartlett all return for another year, while netminders Ben Clements and Euan King have also agreed a further season at the Riverside.

Grant Bartlett has rejoined the squad after recovering from the injury that kept him sidelined for the whole of the last campaign.

Streatham Redskins have added experienced EPL forwards Nicky Chinn and Chris Wiggins from Basingstoke Bison and MK Lightning respectively. Dom Hopkins is back for his fourth year with the club.

Mark McGill and Adam McNicoll have both agreed a further season with Invicta Dynamos, while Wightlink Raiders have snapped up promising GB U18 forward Danny Ingoldsby. Ryan Webb has also signed for a second season with the Isle of Wight outfit.

Alan Lack has agreed another year with London Raiders, while Slovakian forward Michal Oravec switches to the capital from Invicta.

Solent Devils Player/Coach Alex Murray has added the first two players to his roster, signing Richard Facey from Wightlink and agreeing a further year with Ben Lock.

Whitley Warriors have been the most active NIHL1N club, adding nine more players to their squad including DJ Good, Dean Holland, Jamie Tinsley and Harry Harley. Shaun Kippin is also back in a Warriors shirt after a year away from the game through injury. Chris Arnone has agreed another season with Blackburn Hawks.

In NIHL2N, Widnes Wild have confirmed Ken Armstrong, Geoff Wigglesworth and George Crawshaw to their roster.

(Image permission: Chris Turner)

Friday, 22 May 2015

NIHL round-up

The NIHL 2015/16 season is still over three months away, but a number of teams have already begun to assemble their rosters.

Whitley Warriors have confirmed the biggest news in D1 North, appointing ex-Guildford Flames boss David Longstaff (left) as their new Player/Coach.

Dan MacKriel has replaced Jared Owen as Blackburn Hawks Player/Coach, with netminder Daniel Brittle continuing as assistant.

Scott McKenzie has left EPL champions Telford Tigers to take over at Widnes Wild.

The D2 outfit have also confirmed Greg Ruxton, Calum Ruddick, Shaun Dippnall and Daniel Bullock have all agreed another season with the club.

Reigning D1 South champions Chelmsford Chieftains have been the busiest club so far, adding seven players to their roster.

John Connolly returns to Essex after a spell in the EPL with MK Lightning, while Juraj Huska and Anthony Leone join from Invicta Dynamos. Matt France switches to the Riverside from London Raiders and Julian Smith, Darren Brown & Matt Turner are all back for a further year.

Wightlink Raiders have secured netminding duo Matt Colclough and Shannon Long for another campaign. David Oliver is back for another year with London and Thomas Davis has agreed a sixth season with the club.

MK Thunder have snapped up Ross Bowers from the EPL’s MK Lightning, while Jamie Line and Damien King have both re-signed. Drew Campbell has left Solent Devils to sign for former club Haringey Racers in D2 South.

(Image permission: Chirs Turner)

Monday, 20 April 2015

UK Ice Hockey round-up (w/e 19th April)

Wightlink Raiders claimed their first NIHL1 South play-off title since 2010 with a 9-6 aggregate win against Invicta Dynamos.

To read a full match report please click here.

Monday, 13 April 2015

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 12th April)

Blackburn Hawks completed the NIHL North Moralee D1 double after an exciting weekend of play-off action in Dumfries.

The reigning league champions found Sheffield Spartans a tough nut to crack in their semi-final, but eventually opened up a two goal lead.

Spartans tied things up at 2-2, before goals by Aaron Davies and Luke Brittle sent Hawks through.

Billingham Stars and Solway Sharks produced a goal-fest in their semi-final. The Teessiders progressed courtesy of a 9-6 victory – Chris Sykes and James Moss both hit hat-tricks.

The final was an end-to-end affair, with Stars going ahead in the first through Michael Elder before Luke Brittle drew Hawks level. Davies put Hawks in front in the middle period, but Stars bounced back early in the third to take the lead though Paul Windridge and Elder.

Hawks refused to lie down, with Davies and Brittle each adding their second of the game before Tom King and Jordan Bannon wrapped up a 6-3 win.

Whitley Warriors retained their D1 status with two comfortable play-off victories against Laidler D2 outfit Widnes Wild. Warriors won 9-3 on the road and followed up with an 11-2 success on home ice.

Invicta Dynamos and Wightlink Raiders will contest the NIHL1 South play-off final after successfully negotiating their last four ties. Dynamos defeated MK Thunder 9-5 on aggregate, while Raiders defeated London Raiders 20-9 overall.

Slough Jets wrapped up their NIHL2S regular season campaign with a 12-3 win at home to Chelmsford Warriors. Bristol Pitbulls triumphed 5-3 on home ice against Wightlink Tigers and Basingstoke Buffalo won 6-3 at Cardiff NIHL2.

Slough now face Basingstoke and Bristol meet Peterborough Islanders, with the winners of each tie playing off for promotion to NIHL1S.

Kirkcaldy Kestrels added the SNL play-off crown to their regular season title after a 4-2 win against Edinburgh Capitals.

(Image permission: Mark Paterson)

Friday, 10 April 2015

NIHL North: Moralee D1 play-off preview

After finally winning their first-ever league title, Moralee D1 champions Blackburn Hawks are hoping to add the play-off crown to their haul in Dumfries this weekend.

Hawks completed the regular season unbeaten and are strongly fancied to secure the double, but Billingham Stars, Solway Sharks and Sheffield Spartans will all be keen to stop them in their tracks.

Here's the Coast to Coast preview of what promises to be an exciting weekend of NIHL North action:

Blackburn Hawks – Swept to the title in impressive fashion, with Luke and Adam Brittle proving an unstoppable force throughout the campaign.

Will want to send departing Player/Coach Jared Owen out on a high, but whether his announcement proves to be an inspiration or a distraction remains to be seen as they strive to make their 25th season even more memorable. Record against their rivals: P12 W10 D2 L0.

Billingham Stars – Frustratingly inconsistent for much of the season, Stars finished strongly to secure the runners-up slot. The likes of Thomas Stuart-Dant and Chris Sykes are capable of causing most defences problems, while netminder James Flavell is one of the best in D1.

Won in Dumfries against Sharks in both league and cup, so facing the hosts on their own ice should hold no fears. Record against their rivals: P12 W6 D0 L6.

Solway Sharks – Failed to mount a serious defence of their league title and will be desperate to hold onto their play-off trophy. Like Stars they struggled to find their form for most of the season, but six wins from their last seven matches should give them confidence.

Have plenty of firepower at their disposal and looked more solid defensively at the back end of the season. Home ice proved advantageous last year and could do so again. Record against their rivals: P12 W4 D0 L8.

Sheffield Spartans – Looked on course to qualify comfortably for the play-offs during the first half of the season, but lost their way after Christmas before bouncing back to clinch fourth on the final day.

Head Coach Martin White has Spartans well-drilled and after twice coming close to beating Hawks during the regular season will be hopeful of making it third time lucky in the semi-final. Record against their rivals: P12 W2 D2 L8.

Coast to Coast's one to watch - Brandon Stones: Spartans' netminder (above) enjoyed an excellent second year with the Yorkshire outfit to firmly establish himself as their number one choice. Produced stunning performances in the two draws against the Hawks and will need to be in the same sort of form if Spartans are to spring a surprise.

He commented: "It's been a tough season from start to finish, but I can honestly say we deserve to be where we are and it's far from over yet. It's huge for us to make play-offs and anything can happen. We're just going to go up there and play our game, which we know is enough to turn them over and Blackburn know it too."

The weekend line-up is as follows: Saturday – Hawks v Spartans 1pm; Stars v Sharks 5pm. Sunday – Final 2pm.

(Image permission: David Morrison)