Saturday 8 April 2023

North West Lions In Czech Tournament

North West Lions' Adam Wrixon puts the Nijmegen netminder under pressure at the Benesov tournament (Photo by Jiří Bošek) 

The North West Lions team brought a lot of positives back from their first overseas trip after taking part in the international tournament at Benesov in the Czech Republic, where the representative team –which is made of players from teams that play at Widnes, Altrincham, Deeside and Blackburn – came up against opposition from Slovakia, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the host nation.

The Lions team was originally formed in 2020 but the Covid lockdowns and subsequent foreign travel restrictions made it logistically impossible for them to take part in previous overseas tournaments so this venture was pretty much a step into the unknown.

It turned out to be quite a baptism of fire for the Lions as they lost all 4 of their 4 “Group A” games - 2-10 to HK Atlantis Zvolen from Slovakia, 13-0 to Kokory Foxes from the Olomouc in the Czech Republic, 7-1 to HC AHL from České Budělovice and 1-5 to HC Jonny Lugano from Switzerland.

In the play off game, where teams from Group A met teams from Group B in order to decide final tournament placings, they had a much closer game against Dutch team Chihuahuas Nijmegen – largely matching them in terms of puck possession and shots on goal before eventually losing out 2-8. This meant that the Lions finished in 10th place out of 10 but they certainly grew as a team as the tournament went on, gained a huge amount of experience - and made a lot of new friends!  

Adam Wrixon ended the tournament as the Lions top scorer with 4 goals and 1 assist, Luke Stone had 1+2, Adam Lappin 1+0 and Andy Way 0+2.

Netminder Mike Welch was kept pretty busy in the Lions net, facing 106 shots over the 5 games and ending up with a 71.14% Save Percentage.

The full North West Lions squad for the tournament was Mike Welch (netminder), Adam Lappin, Thomas Quigley, Josh Grocutt, Marc Taylor (defence) and Andy Way, Adam Wrixon, Chris Preston, David McMullan, Chris Alker, Luke Stone (forwards).

Josh Grocutt - who has previously played league hockey with Widnes Wild, Solent & Gosport Stars and Oxford City Stars said of the trip: 

“We went into the tournament with high expectations but soon learnt the level was a lot higher then we had anticipated, however it brought together 12 strangers who don’t normally play together and now have a strong hockey bond. I am definitely looking forward to going again, knowing what we need next time to compete.”

North West Lions Benesov Tournament Schedule:

Friday 31st March (9am)

North West Lions 2 - HK Atlantis Zvolen (Slo) 10 

Period Scores: 2-10, 0-0

Shots On Goal: Lions 10 – Zvolen 18

Penalties In Minutes: Lions 0 - Zvolen 6 

Lions scoring: Wrixon 1+1, Stone 1+2

Netminder: 18 shots / 10 goals (64.29%)

Friday 31st March (4pm)  - Group A

Kokory Foxes (CZE) 13 – North West Lions 0 

Period Scores: 6-0, 7-0

Shots On Goal: Foxes 27 - Lions 13

Penalties In Minutes: Foxes 0 - Lions 2 (Grocutt 2 - slashing) 

Netminder: 27 shots / 13 goals (67.50%)

Saturday 1st April (4.30pm) – Group A

HC AHL České Budělovice (CZE) 7 – North West Lions 1.

Period Scores: 2-0, 5-1

Shots On Goal: AHL 17 - Lions 5

Penalties In Minutes: AHL 0 - Lions 4 (Grocutt 2 – slashing, Lappin 2 - kneeing) 

Lions Scoring: Wrixon 1+0, Way 0+1

Netminder: 17 shots / 7 goals (70.83%)

Sunday 2nd April (9am) – Group A

North West Lions 1 - HC Jonny Lugano (CH) 5

Period Scores: 0-3, 1-2

Shots On Goal: Lions 16 – Lugano 23

Penalties In Minutes:  Lions 4 (Stone 2, unsportsmanlike conduct, Stone 2 – interference)

Lions Scoring: Wrixon 1+0, Way 0+1 

Netminder: 23 shots / 5 goals (82.14%)

Sunday 2nd April (11.20am) - 9th v10th Play Off 

North West Lions 2 - Chihuahuas Nijmegen (NL) 8

Period Scores: 1-3,1 –5

Shots On Goal: Lions 21- Chihuahuas 21

Penalties In Minutes: M 0-0

Lions Scoring: Lappin 1+0, Wrixon 1+0, Stone 0+1

Netminder: 21 shots / 8 goals (72.41%)

You can find out more about Yellow Hockey and their future tournaments on their website at: