Tuesday 12 November 2019

NIHL National Division: Leeds Chiefs 1 - Swindon Wildcats 4 (Played at Widnes)

Team warm ups - Photo by Paul Breeze

National Division ice hockey made a rare appearance in Widnes on Sunday as the Leeds Chiefs played a home game against Swindon Wildcats at the Planet Ice Rink.

Leeds are a new team to ice hockey this season and, as their new home rink at Elland Road is not yet complete, they are having to play "home" games at other venues to avoid a fixture backlog later in the season.

This was the first ice hockey match at national league level to be played at the Widnes rink since Manchester Phoenix played Swindon there back in January 2017 and was, therefore, of interest to many hockey fans from across the country, as well as local Wild fans.

With the Swindon Wildcats leading the National Division at the start of the weekend and the Chiefs sitting bottom with just 3 wins and just 7 points from 13 games, it always looked likely that this game would see an away win. Swindon took the lead on 12 minutes but the Leeds Chiefs gave as good as they got and honours were otherwise pretty much equal in terms of possession and shots of goal in the first period.

The second period was just as entertaining to watch, with end-to-end hockey, although the Wildcats out-shot Leeds by 19 to 10. Just as it looked as if the period would play out goal-less, Swindon fired in 2 quick-fire goals within 30 seconds of each other in the 39th minute and this handed them a huge advantage, taking a 0 – 3 lead into the second period break.

Leeds finally managed to find the back of the net in the 49th minute, with a fine strike from Radek Meidl but that was as good as it got for the home side. Swindon restored the 3-goal advantage 3 minutes later and the score remained 1 - 4 at the final buzzer.

The Leeds Chiefs have two more "home" games scheduled to be played at the Planet Ice Arena in Blackburn during November and then hope to have their home Leeds rink ready to stage matches from December onwards.

GB Under 18 Women Win 4-Team Tournament In Dumfries

Great Britain U18 Women are the winners of the 4Nations tournament in Dumfries following a 4-2 victory over Poland U18 Women on the final day.
GB came from 2-0 down to clinch success and add to their victories over Spain U18 Women and Iceland Women earlier in the tournament.
The two teams took part in a perfectly-observed silence for Remembrance Day before face-off.
There were no goals in the opening session but Lucy Beal and Emily Harris (short-handed) had chances for GB inside the opening 10 minutes.
The game burst into life in the second period with five goals. Poland scored twice in eight seconds as Iga Schramm tapped in at far post (23:16) before a clearance deflected off Karolina Baran (23:24).
GB roared back into the game with Amy Robery and Kaitlyn Morrison setting up Sophie Campbell, whose neat forehand-backhand finish on the powerplay reduced the deficit to one (27:29).
Britain were ahead by the end of the period as Grace Garbett fed Harris who fired in her fifth goal of the tournament from the left circle (33:48), while a turnover at the Poland blueline led to Chamonix Jackson forcing the puck home (37:14).
Morrison scored GB’s fourth on a four-on-three powerplay from close range (55:20) to ensure a perfect record for GB at the 4Nations.

Head coach, Cheryl Smith, said: “Myself and the coaching staff are thrilled at what we have seen over the weekend.
“I said from the start that getting wins would be good but the performances would be the most important thing.
“The way we came back from two goals down and didn’t panic today was exceptional.
“We have a great group of girls who have worked so hard for each other and understood the gameplan for the weekend.
“We have a tough World Championship in January but we can look forward to it with confidence.”
Friday 8th November
Spain U18 Women 0-3 Great Britain U18 Women
Iceland Women 1-7 Poland U18 Women
Saturday 9th November
Spain U18 Women 3-4 Poland U18 Women (after penalty shootout)
Great Britain U18 Women 4-3 Iceland Women
Sunday 10th November
Spain U18 Women 6-5 Iceland Women (after penalty shootout)
Poland U18 Women 2-4 Great Britain U18 Women
Photo credit: Helen Hobbins and Charley Keen. 

NIHL & WNIHL Player of the Month Awards For October 2019

The English Ice Hockey Association has announced the October Players of the Month for its senior leagues, presented in association with OddBalls – the underwear brand everyone is talking about.

October’s awards are the second of the season for NIHL but a first ever award for our women’s leagues, the WNIHL. Each winner will receive a distinctive OddBalls “Obble” hat courtesy of our sponsor.

The roll of honour for October 2019 is as follows:

NIHL National – Adam Barnes (Leeds Chiefs)
NIHL North 1 – Gary Russell (Solway Sharks)
NIHL South 1 – Vanya Antonov (Streatham IHC)
NIHL North 2 – Richard Haggar (Hull Jets)
NIHL South 2 – Kevin Lake (Invicta Mustangs)

WNIHL Elite – Louise Adams (Guildford Lightning)
WNIHL Premier – Steph Towns (Whitley Squaws)
WNIHL Division 1 North – Katie Russell (Solway Sharks Ladies)
WNIHL Division 1 South – Ceri Powell (Coventry Phoenix)
WNIHL U16 North – Emily Johnson (Kingston Diamonds)
WNIHL U16 South – Kayla Poole (Swindon Top Kittens)

First of all in the NIHL National Division, our October winner is Adam Barnes of Leeds Chiefs. Barnes has become a clutch player for the Chiefs scoring at least a goal in every game this month, including the game winning goal to lift the Chiefs out of tenth place in the league.
Also nominated in the NIHL National: Michal Klejna (Basingstoke Bison) and Jordan Marr (Peterborough Phantoms).
The top division of the WNIHL is the Elite League, and our first WNIHL Elite Player of the Month is Louise Adams from Guildford Lightning. Adams is recognised for her commitment to the team, leading in the locker room and on ice. Excellent performance on ice – not just for the team but is an inspiration and mentor to the younger athletes stepping up to the Elite League.
Also nominated in WNIHL Elite: Alana Clare (Solihull Vixens) and Danni Newlove (Kingston Diamonds).
In NIHL Division 1 North the award goes to Gary Russell of Solway Sharks. ‘Rusty’ made a return to NIHL this season after a spell in Elite League with Glasgow Clan and he has backstopped Sharks to an unbeaten month in League and Cup, with .919 save percentage including one shutout
Also nominated in NIHL N1: James Moss (Billingham Stars) and Tomaš Rubeš (Billingham Stars).
WNIHL Premier League is the second tier of the women’s leagues, and the first player of the month for that division is Steph Towns of Whitley Squaws. Towns stepped up to be player coach and over the summer took on recruitment and sought game sponsorship to enable team to continue in the Premier League. Towns gives 100% effort on and off ice and support to new and experienced players, encouraging the team to continue playing to their best ability right to the last whistle.
Also nominated in WNIHL Premier: Phoebe Mather (Kingston Diamonds).
Player of the month in NIHL Division 1 South is Streatham’s Vanya Antonov. Antonov has helped the High Road club to a perfect 5&0 record in the month with seven goals including a hat-trick, while also stepping up to the National division with Bracknell Bees when available.
Also nominated in NIHL S1: Grant Bartlett (Chelmsford Chieftains) and Ben Ealey-Newman (Bracknell Hornets).
Division 1 of the WNIHL is split into a north and south division. October’s player of the month in the North is Katie Russell of Solway Sharks Ladies. Russell has shown dedication and hard work in training on and off ice. Although she lives two hours from the rink she never misses a single session. She encourages new players, assists coaches in demonstrations and also coaches pee-wees at both Greenock and Braehead.
Also nominated in WNIHL D1N: Anne Maclean (Telford Wrekin Raiders).
Division 1 South’s inaugural WNIHL Player of the Month is Ceri Powell of Coventry Phoenix. Powell retired a few years ago but has come back this year fitter and faster. She takes off ice fitness sessions for the Phoenix, and encourages younger players while working hard for the team on and off the ice.
Also nominated in WNIHL D1S: Elise Willoughby (Slough Sirens) and Courtney Lewis (Solent Amazons).
NIHL Division 2 North has named Richard Haggar of Hull Jets as the October player of the month. Haggar has helped lead the Jets to the top of Laidler division with four wins from five games in the month. Bringing experience to the lineup, Haggar has contributed on the scoresheet too with six goals and nine helpers in October including a 4+3 game in Deeside.
Also nominated in NIHL N2: Kieran Beach (Hull Jets) and Oliver Hunt (Telford Tigers 2)
WNIHL’s U16 division is also split north and south and there will normally be a single award for this division. However the October nominees were so evenly matched it was decided to recognise them both.
Both winners are up and coming netminders playing for club and Conference teams. In the North the winner is Emily Johnson of Kingston Diamonds. Emily is in her first season at U16 and picked up a shutout in her second game – a bright star for the future for sure.
In the South our winner is Kayla Poole of Swindon Top Kittens. Kayla is a consistent with a 90+ save average in net. She always gives her best even when the team is being out shot. Kayla always encourages all new players to have a go.
Finally in NIHL Division 2 South, our October winner is Kevin Lake of Invicta Mustangs. Lake is captain of the Mustangs and has lead from the front this month as Invicta went 4&0 in league and cup competition. Lake has potted three goals but added an impressive ten helpers to the cause.
Also nominated in NIHL S2: Jake Luton (Invicta Mustangs) and Haydn Wooton (Guildford Phoenix).
Congratulations to all winners – the OddBalls Obble hats are on their way!
If you want to get your own OddBalls merchandise give them a visit at www.myoddballs.com – new ranges launched this month include, fittingly, umbrellas and towels. Bespoke items are also available if you want to personalise items with a logo or name.
And remember all funds raised by OddBalls go towards their campaign to raise awareness and support for testicular cancer. Their ranges now include items for women, teens and children so there’s plenty to choose from.

Friday 1 November 2019

Widnes Ollie's Charity Hair Initiative

Ollie Cliffe (on the right) with Wild NIHL player Bez Hughes
(Photo by Geoff White)
Widnes Wild Academy junior player Ollie Cliffe is growing his hair long to raise money for the Little Princess Trust, which is a charity that provides real hair wigs to children and young people who have lost their own hair through cancer or other conditions.

A keen ice hockey player and fan, Ollie decided that he wanted to grow his hair long to look like some of the senior Wild players. He then decided to grow his hair even longer so that he could donate it to children who needed it. Wild NIHL player Tom Jackson did a similar thing a couple of years ago and raised £725 for the Little Princess Trust.

Ollie’s Mum Chantelle said: "This idea all came from Ollie himself and, of course, we have backed him all the way. His hair is now ten inches long and soon will be gone. We – his parents and family – are so proud of him."

Ollie is hoping to raise £500 for the Little Princess Trust and you can support his fund-raising initiative via his Just Giving page HERE