AHL enforcing tough men to change ways

August 19, 2014

The following rule was brought in by the American Hockey League this summer to start as of the 2014/15 season.

20.4 (“Major Penalties”)

An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.

The AHL were certainly stringent last year on offences they deemed worthy of further punishment using the following rule.

Rule 28 – Supplementary Discipline

28.1 Supplementary Discipline – In addition to the automatic fines and suspensions imposed under these rules, the President may, at his discretion, investigate any incident that occurs in connection with any Pre-season, Exhibition, League or Playoff game and may assess additional fines and/or suspensions for any offense committed during the course of a game or any aftermath thereof by a player, goalkeeper, Trainer, Manager, Coach or non-playing Club personnel or Club executive, whether or not such offense has been penalized by the Referee.

With that in mind and the ruling regarding helmets made stricter, I was intrigued to see whether AHL teams would re-sign their fighters and highest penalty minute collators from last season.

Here’s the low-down on the top ten worst offenders in 2013/14.

Zack Stortini led the way in PIM, attaining 299, while a member of the Norfolk Admirals. On seven occasions Stortini hit double figures in a single game while twice racking up 17 and 22 PIM respectively. Lehigh Valley Phantoms have acquired his services for the 14/15 season.

Michael Liambas finished second in the list but his PIM average usurped Stortini, at almost 4.5 minutes per game in his first full AHL season.

You may recognise the name as he was suspended for the remainder of the OHL season including playoffs for boarding Ben Fanelli during a game against the Kitchener Rangers in April of 2009. Milwaukee Admirals have re-signed him for next season.

Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond was the “AHL’s Most Penalized Player“ in 2010/11 with 334 PIM. Ironically during that season he picked up twice as many points as he acquired last year. In the second year of a two-way deal, it’s most likely Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be his home again.

Brett Gallant has picked up PIM in the AHL with the ease Connor McDavid accrued goals and points in peewee. A total of 615PIM in 143 games for Gallant and last season he played his first 50+ games in the American Hockey League and passed the 250 barrier. He was re-signed to a one year-two way deal

Five and Six on the list both played for the Adirondack Phantoms but neither will be suiting up for the Philadelphia Flyers new AHL team, Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Both accrued 231PIM for the season but Zack Fitzgerald’s came in a staggering 38 games, at an average of over six. Shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise as he was the AHL’s PIM leader in 2009/10 and 2011/12. He is off to Scotland to be player/assistant coach for the Braehead Clan.

FightZack FitzGerald, left, of the Charlotte Checkers, fights with Piere-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, of the Albany Devils.
Image from http://www.CTpost.com

Brandon Manning hasn’t been offered a contract after finishing his entry level deal and is yet to find a new team. His points and PIM increased every season while with Adirondack and he suited up ten times for Philadelphia Flyers.

Bobby Robins is next and since coming back to the AHL with Providence Bruins, has consistently been amongst the top penalty minute earners. In fact last year he topped the table in that category. This will the second season of his two way deal with Boston.

Dane Byers is the first captain on the list and he will once more be wearing the “C” for the Hershey Bears in 2014. It was back to old ways for Byers whose total of 211PIM was a return to his highest total since his first full AHL season in 2006.

By no means is Kris Newbury just a hard nosed player as his 0.74PPG average in over 650 AHL games proves. He’s the third player to represent Adirondack Phantoms on the list as he spent the majority of the season with that team. Like the aforementioned Byers, his PIM tally is his highest in a long time, having to look back until his time with the Toronto Marlies in 2005/06 to see him hitting the 200 mark. Newbury has signed with the Hershey Bears after a loan spell toward the end of last year.

Completing the top ten is Curt Gogol, who began the season with Worcester Sharks before being traded and assigned to he Iowa Wild. Gogal has played under 150 games but passed the 500PIM mark with ease. He will be suiting up for his new team in 2014.

As mentioned, Adirondack Phantoms have three players in the top three with another inside the top 20.

Lake Erie Monsters are next with three player with Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Binghamton Senators both having two. The latter’s two representatives are remarkable both rookies in the form of Darren Kramer and Michael Sdao. Kramer’s total racked up at an average of night of four minutes per game

The question is will these players, let alone the teams, adapt for the new rules? It’s not just fighting that will be clamped down on as boarding and charging will be treated with as much disdain by the officials on the ice and those in charge of discipline inside the offices of the AHL.

I was witness to one of the games last season that has inevitably led to the AHL’s clamp down on discipline.

On Friday, March 7th 2014, the Toronto Marlies visited Lake Erie and both teams shared exactly 200 PIM.

Including ten fighting penalties and the same number of misconduct penalties, the officials weren’t at their best but there was nothing to excuse the majority of the behaviour from both teams.

The gloves being dropped after the opening face-off and again inside four minutes set the tone of the game.

I’m not anti-fighting per-se but a fight from the opening face-off is not a road hockey needs to be going down in this day and age.

I’m prepared to wager that the AHL will come down hard and fast with disciplinary action to set their stall early should players be ejected from games in the opening weeks of the season.

 

Note:

Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)

A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.

 


Andy French Interview

August 18, 2014

Back in December of 2013, I was fortunate to be reporting at the Men’s U20 World Championship Group that GB were hosting in Dumfries, Scotland. With the Stanley Cup in town I was lucky to be present for it’s arrival and the huge buzz of excitement around it. 

Unfortunately I had some technical difficulties with the recordings made in December but with that resolved, here is the brief interview with General Secretary of Ice Hockey UK, Andy French, who I spoke with about the Stanley Cup and delved into the eligibility rules of players representing their country.

Getting the NHL’s Stanley Cup to the UK is obviously a huge achievement, how and when did you start that process?

It all started in May last year (2012).
I’m a good friend of Phil Pritchard (keeper of the cup) as I’ve known him many years, and after we won the bid to host here in Dumfries, I proposed the to ice hockey board that we have the 100 year dinner and one of other ideas to celebrate involved getting the cup here.
I have to thank the Hockey Hall Of Fame and Phil Pritchard especially, because he had to go through a lot of hoops to make it happen.
When it arrived yesterday it was great. Chris Ellis (GB media manager) gave me a pat on the back and said what a great job had been done. When you see it actually come off the plane and you’re there with it, it’s overwhelming and exciting because we’ve seen this process through to the end and then after tonight with the dinner that’ll be the icing on the cake. If GB can win a medal or stay in this championships divisional, it would have been a successful event from start to finish.

100yr_front_white

Image from http://www.icehockeyuk.com/ihukstore/ where this Anniversary Jersey is available to buy.

So would you say this was your proudest moment in hockey?

I’ve got a lot of proud moments really. I’ve been involved for 33 years, at various levels, club, league and general manager of the national teams. To be General Secretary of Ice Hockey UK and to have the people working around me, have the support that they give me and have faith in me with the things that I do , I’ve got to take my hat off to them.
The board of directors, vice president Jim Anderson, president Mohammed Ashraf, without a lot of people around me I wouldn’t be able to do the things I would like to in this job do without their support.

You’ve recently implemented a new coaching staff for Team GB, how do you feel that’s working out?

After the disappointments of some of the teams last year, we felt that a new coaching programme, infrastructure or whatever term you wish to use, was needed. We wanted to change the format of the way things were being done.
We went through a complete interview process, advertised heavily for the position, interviewed every single person, and we’ve implemented a new structure where the coaches overlap.
So for instance the head coach of the U20’s is now an assistant coach of the Men’s team and so we’ve got that knock on effect.
Hopefully they will learn and we’ll have that complete same programme from top to bottom and we’ve completed our aim in that regard.

Could you please explain how Josh Cook was ineligible to play in this tournament for GB while Liam Stewart does qualify and how those rules work?

I deal with international transfers and eligibility for national players. I was the person who submitted all the paperwork and appealed to the IIHF to enable Liam Stewart to become eligible to play for Great Britain. It was a long process which began two years go and the IIHF finally accepted his eligibility,
Liam Stewart for born in Great Britain and he has a green card to play in America so therefore he’s not a citizen of the U.S.
He is a citizen of New Zealand. Because he has two citizenships but was born in GB, he was given an exception case.
Josh Cook however was not born in the UK, he was born in Kelowna, Canada.
He moved to the UK when he was 3 or 4 years old and played hockey here until he was 12.
At that age he went back to Canada and has never played in the UK since.
IIHF regulations state that 737 days playing in that country from your 12th birthday, which sadly Josh has not attained. He and his father are most disappointed but we are doing everything we can.
There are ongoing requests from national bodies across the world which come up at congress every two years and this year in Minsk, Belarus, we will be attending and we’ve already submitted proposals
to change that rule. If that rule changes we feel that if a player has a passport for this country, bearing in mind a child cannot dictate where he or she plays if the parents decide to move, then we’d like to have them considered to play.
I even tried appealing the Josh Cook ruling, but the IIHF stand by their rules steadfastly.


From Vegas to Alaska, Francis chasing his dream

August 9, 2014

Chris Francis is not your archetypal hockey player. 

Born and bred in Vegas which is hardly a hotbed for producing hockey talent, he’s had to work hard to get where he is today.

Francis began playing roller hockey at the age of six and didn’t step foot onto an ice rink until four years later. Drafted in the United States Hockey League at 17 years of age, but after failing to agree terms he was signed by WHL side Portland Winterhawks.
His four seasons with Portland were a learning curve and he improved every season, registering more goals, assists and points to better the year before.
A final season tally of 82 points, including 26 goals, saw the Springfield Falcons offer him an AHL contract for the 2010/11 campaign.
Things didn’t quite pan out as Francis might have wished as he saw action in just four AHL games and split the rest of the season between the Las Vegas Wranglers (ECHL) and the Fort Wayne Komets (CHL).
Francis re-signed with the Wranglers after being cut for the 2011-12 season, and it would prove to be a fruitful year as the team reached the Kelly Cup Final and he would become a mainstay of the team, especially in the playoff run.

As he proved in Portland, Francis showed aptitude for improving his game.
A 48 point season, where he passed the twenty barrier in goals, saw him gain league recognition in making the ECHL All-Star Team.

Francis-Shootout-Goal-Stephen-Sylvanie

His production waned in 2013 but in an interview given during this summer, Francis refused to blame the terrible season the Wranglers had where they finished rock bottom, but accepted he could and should have been better as one of the team’s leaders.

With Las Vegas not able to secure a rink for 2014/15, all of their players became free-agents, Francis included. With thoughts of Europe on his mind, there was only one team in the ECHL who could keep him in America, and they would come calling.
The current Kelly Cup Champions in the form of the Alaska Aces were quick to snap up his services in what should be a profitable move for both parties. Alaska are looking for two straight Championships and their fourth overall, while Francis still harbours hopes of furthering his career by progressing into the AHL.
It’s an incredibly astute signing by Alaska as well, because Francis will not count as a “veteran” in their line-up. He has played 259 regular-season pro games and under ECHL rules, any skater who has played 260 or more pro games in qualifying leagues prior to the start of a season is considered a “veteran,’’ and each team is allowed a maximum of four veterans.

Having to up-sticks and move 3500 miles north holds no fear for the 25 year old who said “I’m very excited about the opportunity to come play for a defending champion that is great every year and carries the reputation of being very skilled, speedy and well coached.”

“Dynamic” is how Alaska’s head coach Rob Murray describes Francis, who believes that his new singing has the ability to make the step up from the ECHL. His speed and shooting abilities are well noted but it’s his two-way game that needs to improve.

Alaska Aces are without an affiliation right now but with NHL teams becoming younger there maybe an opportunity with an AHL side, should he get back on the right track this season.


Jim Gregory Interview

August 5, 2014

Back in December of 2013, I was fortunate to be reporting at the Men’s U20 World Championship Group that GB were hosting in Dumfries, Scotland. With the Stanley Cup in town I was lucky to interview amongst others, NHL and Hockey Hall of Fame stalwart Jim Gregory.

Unfortunately I had some technical difficulties with the recordings made in December but with that resolved, here is the first of those interviews, starting with the aforementioned Jim Gregory.

Jim Gregory coached and managed the Toronto Marlboros, winning two championships. As General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he led the team to eight playoff appearances in the 10 years he held the position. Worked for the NHL in many positions including scouting and directorship and is involved heavily with the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Are you enjoying your time back in the UK where your family is originally from?

Very much so. My Dad was born in Salford just outside of Manchester and came to Canada in 1930, and I’ve been here a couple of time to see where he grew up. I never met my grandparents but heard a lot about them and its just very nice to be back here in the UK.

It’s very nice to see you so well after your recent health scare, but you’re not slowing down at all and still involved with the NHL and chairman of the HHOF. Obviously hockey is still a real passion for you and keeps you going?

It sure is. I’ll give you a simple explanation of what it’s like. When my son was growing up, he was about 11 or 12 years old at school and the teacher asked him, “does your dad work?” He replied “no, he’s in hockey.”

Where did your passion for hockey originate from?

Well I grew up playing hockey and I went to try and be a hockey player. It was a different system back in the early 50s, there was no drafts and you played for teams that was sponsored by the NHL clubs, so I went to try and play for one of the teams that the Leafs sponsored but unfortunately I found out that I was better in my head than I was on the ice.

That was St. Mike’s wasn’t it?

Yes it certainly was.

Do you still have much to do with the St. Mike’s school?

I go there regularly. I was there just last week and I’m on the advisory board of the school and I keep in touch with as many of the people that I was involved with in those early days. My grandson just graduated from the school last June (2013) and it was good to be there for that.

I can’t speak to you without mentioning the Toronto Maple Leafs. Can you tell me what it was like to be a part of that organisation?

I went to work for the Leafs in 1959 and as I mentioned before there was no draft system so we had to go and recruit players and put them on those sponsored teams. The Toronto St’s Mikes and the Toronto Marlboro’s were the teams where prospects came to play as I tried myself.

The fellow that helped me out most in hockey was David Bower who was coach of St. Mike’s. One day he asked me if I wanted to do this as a livelihood and I thought he was crazy, joking with me, but he took me down and introduced me to Stafford Smythe who hired me and I went to work in the Maple Leafs system in 1959 and worked there for twenty years.

Jim Gregory photo

The Leafs made the playoffs last season in what feels like forever for their fans. As a former member of the organisation were you happy to see them finally make it back to the post season?

Well I work for the National Hockey League, have done since 1979, so I’m not allowed to cheer anymore. People say you gotta be cheering for the Maple Leafs as you used to work for them but I don’t cheer, and if you think about, if they fired you, you wouldn’t cheer for them. But I do watch what they’re doing through my job and try to be fair and impartial as I can and it was very nice to see them back in the playoffs.

If I may ask you about your role in the HHOF selection process and how the system works?

Well as chairman of the selection committee, there are 18 members on the panel and we each get a vote. The votes are all secret unless it’s unanimous and they announce that straight away. You need 15 votes to get in so it’s not easy. The panel is made up of diverse and knowledgeable group of people in hockey. They vote with their conscious to try and make the best selections and as I said you have to get 75% of the vote to be inducted.

The reason we are all here apart from the 100 year anniversary and the Stanley Cup being present, is a world championships hockey group in progress. Have you had a chance to watch any games so far?

I watched the games yesterday and really enjoyed it. I saw the game last night where the French team had a little difficulty but the hockey was good and it’s amazes me when watching now. I used to do a lot of scouting and when you see the quality of the players in today’s game compared to 25-30 years ago, even perhaps forty. While watching last night I noticed the difference in size of the players, but despite their size, the skating and playmaking ability is very much improved from all those years ago.

Would you say the speed of the game is also one of the biggest changes in the game during that time as well?

The speed and skating abilities are noticeably much better, not saying they were worse players back in those days but hard to see anyone from last night’s game who struggled in those departments like they maybe used to.

 

Jim Gregory was a joy to chat with and although he’s now in the latter part of his life, he’s as bright and switched on now as he ever was. The fact that he sat down on this day with many people he’d never met before, to talk hockey and enjoy doing so, says much about the man.

 


Braehead and Solway enter hockey partnership

August 2, 2014

An exciting announcement was made in UK hockey this weekend as the Braehead Clan and Solway Sharks have formed a new partnership agreement ahead of the 2014/15 season.

For those of you not familiar with the teams, both are in Scotland with Braehead competing in the Elite League (tier 1) while Solway Sharks are a third tier team and play at the Dumfries IceBowl which has recently hosted World Championships groups for GB.

Official media release reads as follows:

***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 EIHL club. As part of the agreement, the Braehead Clan will play a pre-season game in Dumfries against the Solway Sharks on Wednesday 3rd September (7.30pm face-off).

braehead-clan-logo

Braehead Clan 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 on the 3rd September, which will give us further competitive pre-season action ahead of the 2014/15 season.”

solway_sharks_d5

Solway Sharks Chairman Les Maxwell commented: “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 further their development.

“As a development club, the Solway Sharks have always been keen to give talented youngsters an opportunity to showcase their talents within the highly competitive ENL North Moralee Conference and we have an 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 Clan gives younger players even bigger tests of their talents. The opportunity is now there with the Solway Sharks for all youngsters across the country to fulfil their dreams with a clear pathway to the top.”***

This system reminds me a little of the way North America operates where an NHL team allows their young talent to develop in the American Hockey League while having the opportunity to call them up to play as and when they wish. As long as the agreement between the two Scottish clubs is well defined and fair to both, then this can only be a positive thing for them and the young talent that will benefit.

 

It should also be a positive step for producing more home-grown talent for GB with young talent hopefully getting more opportunities to play at the highest level in this country, rather than a raft of imports.

It’s nice to see two teams working together and I hope that if this venture works then possibly it may pave the way for future collaborations should the situation be of benefit to the teams in questions.

This partnership will add extra excitement and intrigue to this UK hockey season and I wish both clubs success with this venture.

 

 

 


Saffron Allen Interview 2014

July 25, 2014

At just 19 years of age, Saffron Allen has already represented Team GB at junior and senior women’s level, whilst also recovering from a career threatening injury. She kindly gave up some of her time to speak about her short ice hockey career thus far and what the future holds.

 

At the end of 2012 during the Olympic qualification campaign, you suffered a terrible injury with two slipped discs early in the game against China. How did your rehab go through 2013 and are you now back to where you were before the injury?

The rehab was extremely difficult in more ways than one. When I returned from China I was unable to walk or sit down and so spent a number of weeks laid flat in a bed in our living room. I had a number of scans and began a rehab program as soon as I could. Kirsty Hopgood, GB Sports Therapist, was a huge support. She provided me with the rehab plans (lasting up to 5 hours a day) and made the 2 hour drive after work weekly to visit me to check progress and support. Not only did I lose ability physically but also mentally I struggled. I was unable to attend college and so had to complete the year from home and so apart from the odd visitor, I really had no social contact. On returning from China I was told I would never play again and so this motivated me more to prove everyone wrong. It was an extremely slow and painful recovery but I’m so grateful to be back playing and really do not take any shift for granted.

 

You returned from the injury to play at the 2013 University Winter Games and had some personal success. Was that a vital morale booster for your career moving forward?

The FISU Universiade Games were incredible. It was a completely different atmosphere to what I have been in before at World Championships. We were really treated like elite athletes and the whole team had a great time. Having a number of GB athletes from different sports out there meant we were able to travel and watch other sports and support our athletes in their competitions too and that was brilliant. Having now just been accepted into University for September, it will allow me to be eligible for the team next trip in Granada, so I look forward to the trials for that.

 

The year of 2012 had otherwise been a great one for you until the China incident. A place at the IIHF High Performance Camp (1 of 100 selected) and scoring vital goals for GB U18 at the WC in Dumfries, but would you say having the honour of carrying the Olympic torch was the highlight?

The Olympic torch really was the highlight of 2012. To be involved in such a high profile event and have a part like that was amazing. To have been nominated by my Senior School head teacher for not only my sporting achievements, but also for my academic side, was a real honour. It is something I will treasure forever.

 

You’ve spent most of your career up till now playing with and against boys. Do you think this has given you the edge in what you’ve been able to achieve thus far?

I have always been mainly involved in male hockey. From the age of 7 I grew up and competed in every junior age group club team for Telford and also was part of the Midlands Conference teams and England teams. I feel that I have had a great development and coaching in hockey and some that have given me an enormous amount of dedication and passion. The men and women’s games are very different, however to transfer and play for both is great. I have no plans of stopping my men’s hockey as I do feel that it develops me a lot and gives extra to my game that I can then produce within the women’s game.

 

Your GB career has been one of rapid improvement. Two personally successful U18 World Champ campaigns and making the full step up in 2014 you recorded a goal and an assist. How big is the leap in the women’s game between junior and senior?

I actually played Senior Women’s GB before I played U18s GB. My first senior tournament was back in Caen, France 2011 and have been in the team ever since (missing the Strasbourg 2013 due to my back injury). I find the step from u18s to Senior a big, but reachable one for most players. The Seniors setup is now at a stage that players are being welcomed into at an earlier age and are able to attend the training camps whilst still u18s and I feel this is a huge positive for potential players. If players are willing to put in the effort and dedication to reach it, there is no reason why they won’t.

 

For many of your teams you’ve either been captain or wearing an “A”, do you see yourself as a leader on and off the ice, despite often being the youngest on the team?

I have been very honoured in the past to be awarded such leadership roles. When I have these roles I feel that you carry a lot upon your shoulders and I like to have responsibility. Whether I have a letter upon my shirt or not my game doesn’t change and neither does my attitude. Players are put into different roles for specific reasons and so whatever role I am given within a team I follow and try and fulfill it to the best of my ability.

 

It’s summer as we speak, so are you well into you off-season training and do you have any specific plans for parts of your game or physical fitness to improve for next season?

My season ended just after we returned from Asiago, Italy in late April. During the off season I usually work on a specific weakness I feel I want to improve and work with both club and National coach to agree what area this should be. I then create a training plan around that weakness whilst including all other areas too, so that I can maintain my fitness. National camps are about to begin again for this coming year and so to keep as fit as possible is important to gain selection for the coming World Championships.

 

Saffron image

 

GB will be hosting their Senior Women’s World Championship group in Dumfries over Easter of 2015. How excited are you at the prospect of representing GB at a senior women’s WC at home and what do you believe should be the team’s expectation for this tournament?

I think expectations are high, and so they should be. Last year in Italy we were playing as the unknown team, even from our point of view after the change of setup and staff. I feel that having come so close to being promoted straight back up into Div 1b, this coming year as hosts is our time. Playing at home is always a great feeling. Having played in Dumfries with the u18s in the qualification tournament and in Hull with the Seniors for the World Championships, I know what atmosphere and feeling it brings. This year with the World Championships falling over the Easter break, we hope to see a big crowd there for all of our games. Being in our own Country also means family members that cant otherwise always get to watch us, are more able to and by having the 8pm game every night it allows the team to get into a very comfortable routine and allow us to be fully prepared for every game.

 

Your first taste of qualification didn’t end too well for you personally but for you is it the ultimate dream to play at the Olympic Games?

Absolutely. An Olympic Games would be my dream. It is a very tough road to qualify however it is not impossible. As a squad we have intentions to progress as much as possible and push to reach everything we can. I really feel that with the setup and stability in place, the team could be part of an Olympic Games one day.

 

Is there any significance to wearing the number 16?

I have always played number 16. Many players have certain superstitions and lucky numbers etc. and this is one of mine.

 

Where will you be playing next season and do you have future plans to play abroad and turn professional?

Next year is a little unknown at the moment. I will be moving to Gloucester University in September to begin my degree and so my teams and schedule will change. Throughout the summer I have trailed for a few teams, both men and women, and so I will soon be making the decision to decide where I will be playing.

Playing abroad is always a players dream. If a professional contract was offered, I would definitely love to take some time away and experience the true athlete life however I’m currently extremely excited to start my degree and stick to hockey here for now. I know, especially after having my back injury, that a career can end within seconds, so to have an academic career as well as athletic is very important to me.

 

Many thanks to Saffron for her time and I wish you all the very best for this season and beyond.

 

 


GB becoming perfect hosts

July 17, 2014

125px-GreatBritainIceHockeyThere’s a lot said and written about the state of GB’s national ice hockey teams but not enough credit has been given to the strides made by Ice Hockey UK in the last two years.

Since April of 2012, Great Britain have hosted four World Championship groups, encompassing Women’s Seniors, Women’s U18, Men’s U20 and U18.

The last three of those have been held at the Dumfries Ice Bowl in Scotland which is fast becoming GB’s new home and has been getting rave reviews from visitors and hockey dignitaries alike.

The Men’s U20 tournament held in December of 2013, marked the 100th anniversary of Ice Hockey UK and as part of the celebration the Stanley Cup was brought over by the keeper of the cup Phillip Pritchard. NHL legend and Hockey Hall of Fame official Jim Gregory was also in attendance and there was a whole host of memorabilia from the history of the game in the UK including GB captain Carl Erhardt’s gold medal and game jersey from the 1936 Olympic Games.

In no small part this was down to the hard work and diligence of General Secretary Andy French, who has helped GB make giant strides in terms of hosting international events.

That ball has been well and truly kept running as 2015 will see Dumfries once more hosting a World Championship group, as the Women’s Senior team make their second appearance in Scotland.

I was lucky enough to be reporting from the Men’s U20 tournament in December and it was a thoroughly well run event, with a few minor hitches dealt with promptly and efficiently.

Everyone I encountered through the tournament was profession, friendly, helpful and a credit to what Ice Hockey UK is trying to achieve.

I tip my hat to them and thank them for bringing international hockey to these shores. Surely it can only be a matter of time before a Men’s Senior World Championship is hosted in the UK.

 


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