Wednesday, 16 April 2014

NIHL North Moralee Conference 2013/14

Solway Sharks first – the rest nowhere. The Dumfries outfit impressively swept to the Moralee Conference title, before adding the Northern Cup and play-off crown to complete a famous treble.

Losing Nathan Salem, Adam Reynolds and John Connolly was thought by many to be the start of Sharks’ demise, but Coach Martin Grubb's astute team building skills made sure this wasn't the case. Iain Bowie was a shrewd addition to their forward ranks, while the returning Juraj Senko and Pavol Melichercik proved to be the icing on the cake.

League and play-off runners-up Blackburn Hawks made a statement of intent by signing the impressive Adam Brittle, yet four wins in the first ten league games ended their expected title bid before it got off the ground. Canadian Jon Adams arrived in November and sparked a spectacular run to the play-off final, but ultimately they ended the season empty-handed.

Billingham Stars will be glad to see the back of this campaign, with injuries and a loss of form by key players disrupting their rhythm. The failure to address their coaching situation was also argued to have hindered their season. Stars eventually finished third to qualify for the play-offs, going on to lose in heartbreaking fashion to the Hawks. It could be an interesting summer on Teesside.

Simon Leach worked his magic with limited resources to haul Whitley Warriors into the play-offs. The returning Reynolds and Karl Culley enjoyed impressive seasons, while Leach also saw a number of youngsters grab senior opportunities with both hands. Warriors were almost unstoppable at Hillheads, but just one road win shows where improvements are needed if they're to challenge next season. Re-signing Reynolds, DJ Good & Jamie Tinsley is a great foundation to build from.

Sutton Sting's title ambitions went up in smoke before Christmas. Coach Ian Johnson assembled an exciting array of firepower, but their defensive inconsistencies cost them dearly. An impressive run in 2014 saw Sting almost grab a play-off slot, but they missed out on their head-to-head record with Whitley. An appearance in the KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup Final also ended in disappointment as they lost to Solway.

Sheffield Spartans kept their season alive until the final weeks, eventually finishing sixth. Captain Ollie Barron led from the front once again, while Stuart Brittle proved an excellent addition. Defenseman Jonathon Kirk enjoyed a breakout senior year, racking up almost a point per game from the blueline. If the Sheffield player production line has one or two more like Kirk lined up, Spartans could be a handful next year.

The newly-branded Manchester Minotaurs proved difficult to beat in the early part of the season. Czech forward Lukas Zeman was the star attraction, bagging 42 goals and 14 assists to finish second behind Adam Brittle in the points table. Player departures didn't help their cause and Minotaurs will hope to assemble a more settled roster for 2014/15.

Telford Titans lost 18 on the spin before picking up their first point against Whitley. Two subsequent victories against the Spartans were just reward for a team who never threw in the towel. If Titans keep their core of youngsters together and see some benefit from the financial developments at Telford Tigers they could be the surprise package next season.

That's all for Moralee Conference for this season. Please check back on Friday when we'll preview the Laidler Conference play-off weekend and also during the coming months as we bring you the latest player signings, transfers and rumours from around NIHL. We'll also have all the build-up to the All-Star weekend at Deeside.

Finally a big thank you to all the clubs, coaches, players and everyone else who's contributed to Coast to Coast this season – your help is much appreciated.

Monday, 14 April 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 13th April)

Juraj Senko grabbed Sharks' opener
Solway Sharks clinched the NIHL North treble after an exciting play-off weekend in Dumfries.

Sharks reached the final with a 6-3 success against Whitley Warriors, while Blackburn Hawks progressed with a 3-2 shoot-out victory over Billingham Stars.

The final was a feisty affair, with both teams taking a number of penalties in a scoreless opening period. The deadlock was finally broken late in the second session as Juraj Senko fired Sharks ahead.

Hawks pushed for an equaliser in the final period, but Struan Tonnar’s effort three minutes from time sealed a deserved 2-0 win.

Chelmsford Chieftains and Wightlink Raiders will contest the NIHL1 South play-off final. Chieftains cruised past Streatham Redskins 12-2 on aggregate, while Wightlink Raiders followed up a 4-3 home win against Invicta Dynamos with a 3-2 road success to secure a 7-5 overall victory.

Oxford City Stars claimed the NIHL2 South title with a win 9-3 win at Basingstoke Buffalo. Slough Jets finished runners-up after a 4-3 victory against Haringey Racers. Bristol Pitbulls snatched third place following a 4-2 home win against Swindon Wildcats and a 3-2 victory at Cardiff Devils. Peterborough Islanders also triumphed 6-2 at home to the Devils.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Hockey BG: Ted Rogers eat your heart out

It's play-off weekend in NIHL North (Moralee Conference) this Saturday & Sunday, so what better time than now to take a look back at the regular season? And who better to do it than the league's most irreverent (and now infrequent) blogger?

After seven months out of the game with a serious case of 'can't be bothered', Coast to Coast proudly brings you Billingham's infamous HockeyBG (NB: The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of C2C - to be fair most of them do, but just in case)...

"So there you have it – another season just about gone. How was it for you? Well that depends on who you support, so if you're a Sharks fan (and surely there must be one of those somewhere?) then it's been none too shabby thanks very much.

As for the rest of us mere mortals - well, I've been invited out of self-imposed exile to pen a few thoughts on the fortunes of all, with apologies to, well, just about everyone really, here you go…

Solway Sharks - Won everything so far and will probably win the play-offs too. Why? 'Cos they're miles better than the rest of us. Possibly the only team in the league that when they turn up 'short-benched' you can hear the crowd inwardly groan. They were already good, then they went and brought Pavol Meliwotdyacallhim back and they were pretty much unplayable. Come on Martin, give the rest of us a chance!

Versus the Stars: Solway are responsible for providing yours truly with this season's funniest moment – Mark 'Miss' McGill's Dangy-esque meltdown at the Forum was a joy to behold. Having travelled as the only netminder, McGill bagged himself an early shower as 'third man in' (fighting with his blocker no less) and left Struan Tonnar to take over for six minutes. Surreal and hilarious stuff.

Blackburn Hawks - After tipping themselves as title contenders, HAWKS were just pipped at the post (by 10 points), although they did manage to top the PIM league by quite some way – well done! An inspired signing in Adam Brittle – class all season – and a late run of form put the HAWKS two places better than last year, but no silverware to show for their efforts - yet.

While the rest of the league is still wondering how Mr Adams got away with his minuscule ban for throwing that bin, Stars fans are still wondering if anyone has ever turned turtle as quickly as the Blond Bombshell when he got invited to dance by Gaz Dowd.

Versus the Stars: Let's just not go there. Our last two results against T’ORKS speak for themselves. Horrid, horrid, horrid.

Billingham Stars - Sum up the season in one word? Frustrating. Yet another injury crisis (who's got the voodoo doll?) that started around December and never really went away, means we Stars fans have seen just glimpses of the side we know we can be.

But there are positives – the emergence of a good crop of youngsters (with a massive nod to Jack Davies in particular) means the club can look to homegrown talent - as yet the Stars have yet to go down the import route. But third place has left some feeling like we've gone backwards. It will be interesting to see what the summer brings on Teesside.

Best bits: THAT win over Whitley (poor for 58 minutes, world-beaters for the final two - magic), our moment in the sun against Solway. Worst bits: getting honked at home by T'ORKS, a no-excuses-whatsoever nosedive away at Sutton.

Whitley Warriors - Leachy returned, brought in lots of old faces plus a few new ones, and got the Warriors into the play-offs. Considering they pipped Sutton – they of the big ambitions but without the crowd to match – Simon must be happy with that. What he'll be less pleased about is the one win on the road all year - which says a lot about the bench Whitley have travelled with. Betya they all show up this weekend.

Versus the Stars: Honours even over the season in terms of results, but there's only one game we'll all remember. Take a bow Richie Thornton!!

Sutton Sting - Ouchies – all the grand plans came to nothing. Touted as title contenders, finishing outside the play-off places has gotta hurt. Inconsistency is what did for the Sting – capable of beating Solway, but lost to rink rivals Sheffield three times. That shocking start to the campaign didn't help either. Even signing our very own vegetarian parmo-eating superstar Adam Robinson wasn't enough. What next for Sutton and their vast army of empty seats?

Versus the Stars: Bloody odd watching Robbo in a Sting shirt - and he usually scored against us too. Traitor!

Sheffield Spartans - A massive achievement for the Spartans to stay in the play-off race as long as they did, with another pesky Brittle doing the damage. Always fun to play against too. Apparently there's a two-year plan in place to get Sheffield into the play-offs – on this showing I'd say they're on-track. Got to keep that squad together though.

Versus the Stars: The teddy toss game before Christmas. Don't remember that much about it mind - was in the pub with The Best Fan In The League (Or Indeed British Ice Hockey)™ for quite a few hours before face-off.

Manchester Minotaurs - Early season promise gave way to a familiar Metros, oops, Minotaurs story. The Manchester campaign fizzled out big style, with only Lukas Zeman for any of us plastic journalists to write home about. It shows how good Zeman is that he's in the running for Player of the Year playing with a team this lowly. A joy to watch.

Versus the Stars: Zeman aside, the standout feature of the last game at Manchester was 'Dusty Bin' Goodwin's very colourful array of bandannas. The pink one especially.

Telford Titans - Aaaaaaaah – everyone's second team. After an autumn where they won lots of friends but absolutely no points, the Titans started to pick up after Christmas and could well be next season's dark horses. A season of rebuilding and gaining much respect for the manner in which they have competed when they could so easily have joined N2 - sorry, Laidler Conference – Telford will be much stronger next time around.

Versus the Stars: The 15-1 demolition first home game that could've been so much worse for the Titans had Folley not stood on his head.

As for the play-off weekend - well Wembley it ain't, but the bright lights of Dumfries beckon for the Chosen Four. It's the Sharks trophy to lose really – home ice, better team, best coach - you'd be a fool to bet against them. And yet - didn't we all say the same last year?

Play-off hockey can be so unpredictable – who's to say we won't see another shock? An all-North East final would be just perfect, but I'll settle for a revenge semi-final win against T'ORKS as the pinnacle of my weekend. See you all there!"

Thursday, 10 April 2014

NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014

Luke Thomas (Nottingham Lions) and Brandon Stones (Sheffield Spartans) have been added to the rosters for the NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014.

The Lions' captain will represent Laidler Conference, while netminder Stones will line up for Moralee Conference over the weekend of June 7th & 8th at the charity event in aid of Mind.

Thomas has racked up nearly 200 ENL/NIHL games with the Lions and Solihull Barons. After beginning his senior career at Solihull, he joined Nottingham in 2005 and was part of their double-winning team in 2007/08.

He returned to the Barons in 2008, going on to win the ENL2 North championship in 2010/11. Thomas rejoined the Lions ahead of the 2012/13 season and led them to the NIHL2 North title, while this year they have qualified for the Laidler Conference play-offs.

Stones progressed through Nottingham’s junior system, before switching to Sheffield in 2010. He featured in the Elite League for the Steelers, on loan at Edinburgh Capitals and also represented Great Britain U18s at the World Junior Championships.

After spells with Coventry Blaze and Hull Stingrays, Stones joined the EPL's Telford Tigers before returning to Sheffield with the Spartans ahead of the 2013/14 season.

The NIHL North All-Star event takes place at Deeside Ice Rink. Saturday sees Deeside Dragons face a Laidler Conference All-Star team, while the following day they will join forces to meet the Moralee Conference All-Stars.

Organisers have also confirmed Dragons players Marc Lovell, Steven Fellows, Shaun Kippin, James Parsons and Simon Furnival will join Sunday’s Laidler roster.

A big crowd is expected for both games, so please keep an eye on Coast to Coast as we bring you all the news ahead of the event.

(Images: Luke Thomas - John Knowles; Brandon Stones - Rob Hutchinson)

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014

Three more names have been added to the Moralee Conference roster for the NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014.

Stuart Brittle (Sheffield Spartans), Stevie Adams (Solway Sharks) and Dan MacKriel (Blackburn Hawks) will face the Laidler Conference All-Stars on Sunday, 8th June at the charity event in aid of Mind.

Brittle developed through the Telford junior system before joining Nottingham Lions in the EPL in 2002. Following a spell with Hull Stingrays in the BNL, Brittle moved to Sheffield Scimitars in 2004 and helped them to the ENL North treble.

Scimitars and Brittle jumped into the EPL in 2005, with the forward going on to notch around 400 appearances with over 250 points for the club. He joined Spartans last September and has enjoyed an impressive season, scoring 15 goals and 19 assists from 24 games.

Adams made his senior Solway debut in 2007/08. After a spell with Latvian Hawks in the Irish Ice Hockey League, he returned to Scotland in 2011/12 and helped the Dumfries outfit clinch the ENL2 North title and Northern Cup.

Adams and Sharks claimed another double in 2012/13, winning NIHL1 North and retaining the Northern Cup, while this season they are on course to secure the treble. Adams has also represented Ireland at a number of World Championship competitions.

MacKriel also progressed through Telford’s junior system. He broke into Tigers’ senior team in 1995/96 and went on to represent Great Britain U18s at the European Junior Championships in two consecutive seasons.

After a spell with the Hawks in the late 90’s MacKriel became a regular fixture in the EPL, enjoying productive spells with Solihull, Romford, Slough and Telford. Following a year out of the game he rejoined Blackburn in 2012/13 and was instrumental in their NIHL1 North play-off success.

The NIHL North All-Star weekend is scheduled for the weekend of June 7th & 8th at Deeside Ice Rink. Saturday sees Deeside Dragons face a Laidler Conference All-Star team, while the following day they will join forces to meet the Moralee Conference All-Stars.

Organisers are hoping for a big crowd for both games. Coast to Coast will bring you the next player announcements on Thursday 10th April, while on Friday we'll have a special Moralee Conference play-off weekend preview.

(Images: Stuart Brittle - Sheffield Spartans; Stevie Adams - David Morrison; Dan MacKriel - Rob Hutchinson) 

Monday, 7 April 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 6th April)

Solway Sharks remain on course for the NIHL North treble after lifting the KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup.

The reigning Moralee Conference champions defeated Sutton Sting 4-2 in Dumfries and followed up with a 3-2 road success to seal a 7-4 aggregate success - Pavol Melichercik (left) & Iain Bowie both scored three over the two legs.

Widnes Wild clinched their place in the Laidler Conference play-offs with a 7-4 win at Hull Jets. Wild now face Solihull Barons in the end of season showdown, with Coventry Blaze meeting Nottingham Lions in the other semi-final.

Chelmsford Chieftains eased into the NIHL1 South play-off semi-finals after a 12-1 aggregate win against Solent & Gosport Devils. Wightlink Raiders are also through following a 10-2 aggregate victory over Bracknell Hornets. They now face Invicta Dynamos who defeated Cardiff Devils 16-5 over their two leg clash. Streatham Redskins complete the semi-final line-up after the EIHA excluded opponents London Raiders following the abandonment of their first leg tie.

Oxford City Stars are favourites to land the NIHL2 South crown after a 4-3 win against title rivals Slough Jets. Bristol Pitbulls beat Peterborough Islanders 8-2, while Haringey Racers triumphed 4-3 against the same opponents.

Basingstoke Bison won their second trophy of the season after claiming the EPL play-off title in Coventry. Bison eased into the final with a 5-2 success against Guildford Flames, while Frantisek Bakrlik’s overtime strike sealed a 4-3 win for Manchester Phoenix against Swindon Wildcats.

Robin Kovar put Phoenix ahead in the final, but two quick goals by Ciaran Long and Joe Rand sent Bison 2-1 ahead by the second break. Phoenix drew level through James Archer early in the third, before Joe Baird and Tomas Karpov made it 4-2 to Bison. With just over three minutes left Kovar gave Phoenix renewed hope, but Aaron Connolly’s late empty netter sealed the win for Bison.

Sheffield Steelers secured the Elite League play-off title after a thrilling weekend in Nottingham. Steelers progressed to the final after a 3-2 victory against Braehead Clan, while the Giants grabbed a 1-0 semi-final success against Fife Flyers.

An end-to-end final saw Giants twice take the lead only for the Steelers to tie things up. Both teams had chances to win in regulation time, but they couldn’t be split and the game went to 4-on-4 sudden death overtime. Just over a minute into the extra period Drew Fata sent the huge Steelers following into raptures as he ripped a rocket past Stephen Murphy to give his side victory.

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Friday, 4 April 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Champions Solway still chasing NIHL North treble
The KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup Final takes centre stage this weekend as Solway Sharks do battle with Sutton Sting.

Sharks welcome Sting to Dumfries on Saturday, with the return in Sheffield the following day and both camps are relishing the upcoming clash.

Sharks remain on course to claim the NIHL North treble, but Coach Martin Grubb is taking a game at a time: "We're all looking forward to the cup final against a very strong Sutton team. We've had a short break due to the U18 World Championships, but the boys are ready and I expect two good games and tight games.

"The treble was our target at the start of the season, but we're only thinking of winning this weekend. We’ve shared the series with Sutton so far, so the fans will be in for two quality games and we hope to come out on top."

Sting narrowly missed a Moralee Conference play-off spot, leaving the cup as their last chance of silverware this season. Coach Ian Johnson said: "After being really disappointed with our final league position, the lads took six points from their last three games, so I'm pretty upbeat really.

"It should be a great weekend apart from the early face-off time for our home leg on Sunday - there's going to be some tired bus legs icing for both teams. I've enjoyed the season and it's been great to see every team improve. Taking on Solway will be a great challenge for us, but if I could have chosen our opponents it would have been the Sharks.

"I’ve made some good friends up in Solway, and I like how they do things. Martin Grubb is someone I look up to and you really have to have everything in order and working together if he's going to let you have a sniff of success. What better challenge than meeting him and his league champions at the weekend? We'll have a couple of key players missing on Saturday, but I'm hopeful we'll have everyone available for the home leg.

"We need to be in close contention after Saturday to be in with a chance, but win or lose I'm looking forward to the opportunity. Next year there'll be some big changes at Sting, as I'm looking to bring in a new Senior Head Coach, so this weekend may be my last in charge of the team. Finally, good luck to Solway and also Billingham, Blackburn and Whitley in the play-offs.

The final game of the regular season in Laidler Conference is on Saturday as Hull Jets face Widnes Wild. The home team need to avoid defeat to reach the play-offs, while a Wild win would see them join Solihull Barons, Coventry Blaze & Nottingham Lions in the end of season shoot-out.

Jets Coach Andy Daintith commented: "Widnes are a very strong side who've progressed so much this season. They are always close intense encounters between the two clubs. We were hoping to get something from last week's game at Nottingham, but we came up short and that's hockey. That said, it was a great advertisement for NIHL hockey. We have a great set of talented players at Hull. We have to correct our mistakes from last week, and produce a solid 60 minutes of hockey."

After a difficult start to life in NIHL, Wild have gathered momentum in 2014, winning over half their games. Coach Mark Gillingham says he’s delighted to reach the final game with something to play for: "The fact it's come down to a head-to-head game for the play-off position is a bit of a lucky coincidence really, with it being a rearranged fixture, but it should make for a great game.

"We've picked up some good results recently against teams at the top end of the table, so we've got a little bit of form, but we're under no illusions how difficult it is to go to Hull and pick up a result. In the three games we've played so far we've just edged it 2-1, but they've all been close games and we need to be at our best."

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Monday, 31 March 2014

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 30th March)

Five-goal weekend for Branin
Solihull Barons extended their winning run to 22 games with a 10-3 success against Deeside Dragons – Joe Henry scored four.

Luke Branin (left) scored twice in Nottingham Lions' 4-0 win at Blackburn Eagles and he bagged a hat-trick in a 6-5 comeback victory at home to Hull Jets – Dan Hazeldine also scored three.

Widnes Wild kept their play-off hopes alive with a 7-2 win against Coventry Blaze – Filip Supa hit a hat-trick. Sheffield Senators won 9-1 at home to Blackburn.

London Raiders clinched fourth place in NIHL1 South with a 5-4 win at Solent & Gosport Devils. They completed their regular season fixtures with a 10-5 home defeat to Bracknell Hornets. MK Thunder won 5-2 at home to Cardiff Devils. The play-off line-up is: Chelmsford Chieftains v Solent; Wightlink Raiders v Bracknell; Invicta Dynamos v Cardiff; London v Streatham Redskins.

In NIHL2 South Swindon Wildcats won 6-5 at home to Basingstoke Buffalo, while Invicta Mustangs drew 3-3 with Cardiff Devils.

Chelmsford bounced back from a 3-2 first leg defeat at Streatham with a 5-0 win on home ice to secure the NIHL1 South Cup. Oxford City Stars reached NIHL2 South Cup final with a 4-0 win against Wightlink Tigers, while Bristol Pitbulls comfortably defeated Chelmsford Warriors 7-1 in their semi-final. Oxford claimed the silverware with a 3-1 victory in the final.

Manchester Phoenix are through to the EPL play-off semi-final after an 8-6 aggregate win against Bracknell Bees. Basingstoke Bison won 2-0 at Sheffield Steeldogs and 6-2 in the return to secure their place in Coventry.

David Longstaff grabbed the decider as Guildford Flames won 7-6 on aggregate against Telford Tigers. Jan Kostal’s late penalty shot goal sealed a 5-4 aggregate success for Swindon Wildcats against MK Lightning. Wildcats meet Phoenix in the semi-final, while Flames face Bison.

Elite League champions Belfast Giants eased their way into the play-off semi-final with a 7-3 aggregate win against Hull Stingrays. Braehead Clan became the first Scottish team to reach the end of season showdown with a stunning 9-1 aggregate victory over Nottingham Panthers.

Fife Flyers secured their slot in the final four after a hard fought battle against Dundee Stars. Flyers won 4-3 on home ice and followed up with a 4-1 success in Dundee to seal an 8-4 aggregate victory. Sheffield Steelers lead Coventry Blaze 3-2 after the first leg of their quarter-final. Belfast face Fife in the semi-final, with Braehead meeting the winners of Tuesday's Sheffield v Coventry tie.

Great Britain U18s retained their World Championship Division 2A status after a rollercoaster week in Dumfries. They were beaten by Netherlands and Korea, before securing victory against Romania. Following a heavy defeat to Croatia, GB needed a point from their final game against Lithuania to avoid relegation.

Trailing 4-3 going into the final period, Luc Johnson’s strike nine minutes from time sent the game to overtime and ensured GB’s safety. Lithuania eventually won the game after a shoot-out to secure promotion.

(Image permission: John Knowles)

Friday, 28 March 2014

NIHL North weekend preview

Laidler Conference champions Solihull Barons bid to extend their winning run to a record-breaking 22 games on Sunday as they face Deeside Dragons.

Barons hope to attract a big crowd to Hobs Moat Road as they collect their title trophy and play their final game ahead of the play-offs. Victory would see Solihull beat Cardiff Devils' British winning streak record.

Last week Barons hit double figures at Hull Jets & Widnes Wild and captain Rob Eley is keen to keep the run going:

"I thought they were two good solid performances. It can be difficult to lift yourselves when you've already won league title, but fortunately we've got the sort of characters in the team who just want to win games. The same will apply against Deeisde. We'll be looking to prove we're the best team in the league, sign off on a high and keep our form going into the play-offs."

Solihull, Coventry Blaze & Nottingham Lions will be joined in the Laidler play-offs by either Hull or Widnes and Barons' Coach Darren Bellerby is already planning for the Easter weekend showdown:

"We'll still be training twice a week to prepare for the play-offs. We won't be changing anything and hopefully we can keep everyone sharp and fit. There's no motivation problems - everyone wants to keep playing and we definitely want to win the play-offs."

Nottingham complete their regular season fixtures with a trip to Blackburn Eagles on Saturday, before returning to home ice the following evening against Hull. Lions have had a tough 2014, winning just four out of ten games, but Coach Matt Bradbury praised his team's efforts:

"We're enjoying our hockey at the moment and looking forward to the play-offs - it'll be a good affair. We've been working hard and developing our players. A lot of our guys are still learning their trade, so fair play to them for the season we've had."

Sunday's remaining games see Sheffield Senators host Blackburn, while Widnes face-off against Coventry.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014

The next trio of Moralee Conference players have been confirmed for the NIHL North All-Star weekend 2014.

Adam Reynolds (Whitley Warriors), Simon Butterworth (Sutton Sting) and Paul Windridge (Billingham Stars) will line up against the Laidler Conference All-Stars on Sunday, 8th June at the charity event in aid of Mind.

Reynolds began his senior career in ENL South with Peterborough Islanders, before progressing to the EPL with Peterborough Phantoms. He featured in over 150 EPL games and was part of Phantoms’ treble-winning 2008/09 squad. Reynolds subsequently signed for Whitley and was a key component of Warriors' ENL North double-winning teams in 2010 & 2011.

He joined Solway ahead of the 2011/12 season, and went on to notch 54 goals & 73 assists as Sharks cruised to promotion to NIHL1 North. After helping Sharks to the double last season, Reynolds returned to Hillheads and has topped their scoring charts this time around as Warriors sealed a place in the Moralee Conference play-offs.

A product of Sheffield's junior system, Butterworth won World Junior Championship gold medals for Great Britain at U18 & U20 level. He made over 50 Elite League appearances for Sheffield Steelers and claimed a British Knockout Cup winners' medal in 2005/06.

Butterworth moved to the EPL with Sheffield Scimitars in 2006/07, going on to play over 200 games and racking up nearly 150 points. He joined Sutton in 2010 and won promotion from ENL2 North in 2011/12.

Butterworth has become a pivotal part of the Sting roster, helping them to third place in their first NIHL1 North season last term, while this season they have secured a place in the KD Flavell & Sons Northern Cup Final.

Windridge has been a feature of the North East hockey scene for over two decades, winning numerous league and play-off titles. He has spent most of his career with Billingham, capped by a prolific spell with the Eagles from 1996-2001, where he notched nearly 500 points in just over 100 games.

Windridge continued to be a thorn in the side of ENL defences with Billingham Bombers, before switching to Whitley in 2009 and going on to claim successive doubles with the Warriors.

He returned to Billingham in 2011/12 and captained the Stars as they claimed the ENL1 North play-off crown. Windridge has remained in excellent form this season, helping Stars to the end of season shoot-out in Dumfries.

The NIHL North All-Star event takes place over the weekend of June 7th & 8th at Deeside Ice Rink. On the Saturday Deeside Dragons face a Laidler Conference All-Star Team, while the following day they will join forces to face the Moralee Conference All-Stars. Organisers are anticipating a bumper crowd for both games.

Please keep an eye on Coast to Coast as we bring you more player announcements in the coming weeks.

(Images: Adam Reynolds - David Morrison; Simon Butterworth - Gary Apsley; Paul Windridge - IceHockeyMedia)