|Connah's Quay Cobras Captain Evan McKinney
The Connah’s Quay Cobras play their first game of 2024 this Saturday 6th January with a tantalising Deeside derby tussle against rink-mates the Flintshire Phantoms at Deeside Leisure Centre – 4.30pm face off.
This game represents an exciting new chapter in the Cobras’ short history as - almost exactly a year to the day since their first ever first ever training session together – they have taken the bold step of entering the Elite Section of the 2024 Ice Hockey Summer Classic Cup.
This involves playing home and away against the other teams in a “round robin” preliminary group, with the top two finishers qualifying for the play offs in Sheffield later in the summer.
As well as the two qualifying games against Flintshire, the Cobras will also play against Trafford Thunder, Blackburn Falcons, Newcastle Predators and last year’s Development Section treble winners Riverside Raiders in a group campaign that will stretch into the summer months.
Saturday’s game will be a tough test as the Flintshire Phantoms are a well established side at Deeside and have an impressive past record in the Summer Classic Cup. They won the Western Conference in the last pre-Covid lockdown competition back in 2019 and qualified for the Play Offs in 2023 where they narrowly lost out to eventual treble winners Don Valley Vikings in the semi final.
The Cobras’ lineup features an exciting mix of former Deeside juniors, traditional rec players and a number of former league players with NIHL experience, including Chris Keating, Sam Krempasky, Kenny Williams & Sam Plant (all Deeside Dragons), Kieran Clarkson (Bradford and Altrincham) and Stewart Cutting (Slough Jets) and they go into this game on the back of a 5-game winning streak in challenge matches.
Looking ahead to Saturday’s game, Cobras coach and team manager Scott Dutton said:
“This has been by far the most requested and anticipated game since we started in January. The game is on a Saturday at a fantastic time so we are expecting a bigger than usual crowd. Both sides will be looking to take the win as this is the first game of the Summer Classic Cup and the winners will also be the early stage cup group leaders.
“We will be looking to put out the strongest team we have ever fielded, so it is sure to be an exciting game played in a fast and skilful way - one not to miss!”