Saturday, 23 August 2014

Jared Owen interview

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

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

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

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

Friday, 22 August 2014

NIHL round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image permission: John Knowles)

Friday, 15 August 2014

NIHL round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Monday, 11 August 2014

Ken Taggart interview

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

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

Sunday, 10 August 2014

NIHL North format 2014/15

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

Moralee D1

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

Laidler D2

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

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

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

Thursday, 7 August 2014

NIHL round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Sharks and Clan join forces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Friday, 1 August 2014

NIHL round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image permission: Keith & Jenny Davies)

Friday, 25 July 2014

NIHL round-up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Image permission: David Morrison)

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

New Cup competition for EPL/NIHL

The EIHA have announced a restructured Challenge Cup competition for season 2014/15.

English Premier League and National Ice Hockey League teams will take part in the regionally structured tournament, which has been designed to allow them to develop home-grown talent in a competitive environment.

EIHA Chairman Ken Taggart said: "This is a very exciting competition and to have clubs from different leagues play each other is fantastic.

"For the supporters it means they’ll have the chance to see teams they wouldn't normally see. I expect the NIHL teams will want to take a scalp when they come up against the EPL sides. Of course, the EPL players won't want to lose face, so the matches will be very well-fought.

"I've wanted the Challenge Cup to be a major part of the season for some time and now we have a format that will do that. Games between sides from different leagues will be played under NIHL rules, with EPL teams having to name just two imports in their line-ups.

"The matches played by teams in the same league will come under normal rules. Clubs can also nominate to play dual-purpose games, with points also counting towards league positions.

A number of sponsors have committed their support to the competition, including Telford Tigers' owners Red Touch Media.Wayne Scholes, CEO of Red Touch Media, said: "It's one of the ambitions of the league owners to improve links between the two leagues and see great collaboration between all involved in ice hockey in the UK.

"This competition will foster those links, while also giving British players the chance to show what they're capable of. This is ultimately about growing British talent and the competition is a great chance to showcase that talent.

"When we first looked at doing this, we immediately saw the potential of a quality challenge cup competition. The EIHA have been supportive in developing the competition and I believe it will become a major part of the ice hockey calendar.

"Since we came into Telford, Red Touch Media have sought to do things in a different way, so we're happy to support the competition. This is part of that process and the fans will enjoy a really great competition."

The teams have been confirmed as follows:

North: Manchester Phoenix, Telford Tigers, Peterborough Phantoms. Sheffield Steeldogs, Solway Sharks, Blackburn Hawks, Billingham Stars.

South: Guildford Flames, Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Swindon Wildcats, MK Lightning, Chelmsford Chieftains, Wightlink Raiders, Invicta Dynamos.

Friday, 18 July 2014

NIHL round-up

Billingham Stars have confirmed three more returnees to their roster ahead of the upcoming NIHL North 2014/15 season.

Paul Windridge (left), James Pattison and Ben Davison have all agreed another year with the Teessiders as they continue to build for the new Moralee D1 campaign.

Whitley youngsters Callum Queenan and Kyle Hindmarsh-Ross will both be part of the Warriors' senior squad next term. The duo also played U18 hockey last season and will continue to do so this year as they look to continue their development.

In Laidler D2, Solihull Barons have announced two new signings with Tom Soar and Dan Harrison moving to Hobs Moat Road. Soar switches from the EPL's Peterborough Phantoms, while Harrison iced for Telford last season in the EPL with the Tigers and NIHLN for the Titans.

Barons have also re-signed eight of last year's title winning squad with Josh Nicholls, Sam Hewitt, Rob Eley, Josh Bruce, Phil Knight, Kieran Papps, Dave Roger and Richard & Eddie Slater all agreeing another season.

Luke Thomas returns as Nottingham Lions captain for the third season running, Geoff Wigglesworth is back for a second term with Widnes Wild, while Blackburn Eagles have added Dave Williams and Craig & Adam Lutkevitch to their roster.

Newly-promoted Oxford City Stars have boosted their hopes of making an impact in NIHL1 South with the signing of Kyle Flemington. The Canadian defenseman has an impressive CV, having featured for London Knights as they won the Ontario Hockey League in 2011/12.

London Raiders have made their first signings of the summer, with Frankie Harvey and David Oliver both agreeing another year. Defenseman Niall Bound has returned to Wightlink Raiders after a spell away from the game.

Bracknell Hornets have confirmed Peter Jasik has agreed another season with the club. Netminder Connor Standing has joined Solent Devils from the EPL's Basingstoke Bison, while Josh Abbott, Chris Beal and Alex Cole are all back for another season.

(Image permission: IceHockeyMedia)

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Ex-Freeze boss takes on new Dragons role

Deeside Dragons Junior Ice Hockey Club have announced a new management structure for their U18 team ahead of the 2014/15 season.

Former Flintshire Freeze boss Nigel Ryland has been appointed as Manager, while son Richard will work as the team's Level 2 Coach. Ryland snr left his role with Freeze in 2010, having managed teams at both senior and junior level. He has since remained in behind-the-scenes positions with the Dragons.

Next season the team will compete in the Northern 'A' League and they're on the lookout for talented players to join their roster.

The Junior committee have passed a scale of travel-related reduced training fees for any player who lives more than 30 miles away and are still offering very affordable training fees compared to other clubs.

Dragons U18s train at Deeside Leisure Centre on Tuesdays, 10.15 - 11.15pm. There are further free training sessions with the senior squad and various other off-ice activities including a state-of-the-art gym for players wishing to improve their fitness.

For further information please email Nigel.