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)

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

UK Ice hockey round-up (up to 6th April)

Coventry Blaze won the Elite League play-offs after a thrilling weekend of action in Nottingham.

Blaze reached the final after a 3-2 shoot-out success against Belfast Giants, while Sheffield Steelers progressed after winning 3-2 against Hull Stingrays.

The West Midlands outfit beat Steelers 4-2 in the final to claim their first post-season title since 2004-05. Belfast beat Hull 8-6 in the third place play-off game.

Peterborough Phantoms clinched the EPL play-off crown with two excellent performances in Coventry.

Phantoms defeated Telford Tigers 4-2 in the semi-final, while Manchester Phoenix went through after winning 7-4 against MK Lightning.

Milan Baranyk (2) led Phantoms' scoring in the final as they sealed a 5-2 victory to end Tony Hand's hopes of a trophy in his final ever game.

NIHL North Laidler D2 champions Solihull Barons clinched the play-off title in dramatic fashion after coming from behind to beat Telford Tigers NIHL.

Barons cruised into the final after a 12-3 win against Widnes Wild, while Tigers progressed courtesy of a 5-1 success against Sheffield Senators. Tigers looked on course for silverware as they raced into a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, but Thomas Soar's hat-trick drew the hosts level before Ryan Selwood's effort four seconds from time capped a remarkable comeback.

Chelmsford Chieftains are through to the semi-final of the NIHL1 South play-offs after a 10-5 aggregate win against London Raiders. Chieftains will face Wightlink Raiders who won 11-5 overall against Bracknell Hornets.

Invicta Dynamos edged through to the last four after an 11-10 aggregate success against Solent Devils. Their opponents will be MK Thunder who won 9-4 overall against Streatham Redskins.

In NIHLS2, Slough Jets won 17-2 at home to Haringey Racers and Bristol Pitbulls triumphed 4-1 against Cardiff NIHL2.

(Image permission: Rob Plaister)

Friday, 3 April 2015

NIHL North: Laidler D2 play-off preview

Solihull Barons first, the rest nowhere – that was the story of the NIHL North Laidler D2 regular season.

League and play-off winners in 2013/14, Barons have swept all before them again to clinch the title without dropping a point.

They are big favourites to make it back-to-back doubles, but Telford Tigers NIHL, Sheffield Senators and Widnes Wild all have other ideas.

Here's the Coast to Coast preview for the Easter weekend showdown at Hobs Moat Road.

Solihull Barons – Never looked like losing during an impressive campaign which saw them score over 300 goals.

Joe Henry, Thomas Soar and Josh Bruce are all capable of playing at a higher level, whilst Niklas Ottosson (above) was a cherry on top of a cake that probably didn't need any cherries adding to it. Perry Doyle and Tomas Janak are formidable figures at the back, ensuring Barons are the team to beat once again. Record against their rivals: P12 W12 D0 L0.

Telford Tigers NIHL – Their entry into NIHL caused ripples in certain quarters, but Tigers' efforts during the season can't be questioned. Coaches Scott McKenzie and Jason Parry assembled a youthful roster with a sprinkling of experience, and the tactic paid off with a second placed finish and promotion to Moralee D1.

James Smith and Karol Jets led Tigers' scoring charts, whilst GB U18 stopper Denis Bell looks like a netminder with a big future ahead of him. Record against their rivals: P12 W6 D0 L6.

Sheffield Senators – Tipped by Coast to Coast at the start of the season as potential promotion contenders, Senators secured their place in the top three with games to spare. Lost three of their four games against Telford during the regular season and will need the likes of Tom Humphries, Josh Gent and Nathan Britton firing on all cylinders if they're to reach the final.

Head Coach Andy Ellis has Senators well organised and he’ll be hopeful his team will give a good account of themselves. Record against their rivals: P12 W5 D0 L7

Widnes Wild – Built on last season’s promising debut in NIHL North to claim fourth place and a chance to win promotion via a play-off against D1 outfit Whitley Warriors. Won just once against the other three play-off contenders during the regular season, and could find Barons too hot to handle in the semi-final.

Filip Supa, Shaun Dippnall and Lee Pollitt are Wild's main threats, but everything points to Solihull going through. Record against their rivals: P12 W1 D0 L11.

Coast to Coast’s one to watch – Niklas Ottosson: The Swede signed for Barons after winning promotion to Allsvenskan with Vita Hästen. His prolific form saw him called up to the Elite League by Coventry Blaze, but he returned to the fold to spearhead Barons' charge to D1.

He commented: "I think we have a great chance to win another trophy. We went through the league unbeaten, so we know we can win against every team. The teams we're playing are good as well, but if we keep up the hard work and play like we've been doing the whole season I do think we'll win the play-offs."

Barons face Wild in the first semi-final on Saturday, with Tigers meeting Senators the following day. The final is scheduled for Easter Monday.

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Monday, 30 March 2015

UK Ice hockey round-up (w/e 29th March)

Sheffield Spartans clinched the final NIHL North Moralee D1 play-off place after a 7-1 win at Sutton Sting.

Spartans (left) will face Blackburn Hawks at the Dumfries showdown, while Billingham Stars and Solway Sharks meet in the other semi-final.

Solihull Barons completed the Laidler D2 season with their 100% record intact after a 5-2 win at Nottingham Lions.

Sheffield Senators enjoyed a 5-3 victory at home to Coventry Blaze, but ended their campaign with a disappointing 13-2 loss at Deeside Dragons.

Matt Wainwright and Filip Supa both hit hat-tricks in Widnes Wild’s 10-3 win at Bradford Bulldogs. Blackburn Eagles lost 4-3 at home to Deeside. The D2 play-off line-up is: Solihull Barons v Widnes Wild, Telford Tigers NIHL v Sheffield Senators.

Cardiff NIHL1 lost their D1S status after a 3-3 draw at London Raiders. Solent Devils won 5-4 at home to MK Thunder. The D1S play-off quarter-final line-up is: London Raiders v Chelmsford Chieftains, Solent Devils v Invicta Dynamos, MK Thunder v Streatham Redskins, Bracknell Hornets v Wightlink Raiders.

Invicta secured the D1 Cup after two thrilling games against Chelmsford. Dynamos battled to a 4-4 draw in the first leg at the Riverside and claimed the silverware with a 5-3 success back on home ice. Slough Jets won the D2 Cup with an impressive 7-2 win against Basingstoke Buffalo.

Telford Tigers remain on course for the EPL treble after an 11-3 aggregate success in their play-off quarter-final against Sheffield Steeldogs. Tigers now face Peterborough Phantoms who won 6-4 overall against Swindon Wildcats.

Manchester Phoenix are through to the semi-final after an 8-7 aggregate victory against Basingstoke Bison. Their opponents will be MK Lightning who won 7-5 against Guildford Flames over two legs.

Sheffield Steelers booked their place in Elite League finals weekend with a 6-5 aggregate victory over Fife Flyers, while Hull Stingrays claimed a dramatic overtime success against Braehead Clan to go through 5-4 overall.

Coventry Blaze defeated Nottingham Panthers 5-4 over two legs and Belfast Giants won 8-3 on aggregate against Cardiff Devils. The play-off semi-final line-up is: Sheffield Steelers v Hull Stingrays, Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze.

(Image permission: Sheffield Spartans)