Tuesday 30 September 2014

The Steve Swift Memorial Cup

The very first ice hockey match to be staged at the new Fylde Coast Ice Arena in Blackpool was momentous for many reasons. 

Not only was this EIHA Under 16 game the first competitive fixture played by a Blackpool Seagulls team in over 20 years, it was also the first match ever to be played on a full size ice surface in the North West resort.

It was fitting that this first home game for the Seagulls was against North West rivals Deeside Dragons as there has always been a lot of player movement between the two clubs and this meant that Sunday’s game was the ideal opportunity to commemorate the recent passing of a hugely missed ice hockey dad.

The STEVE SWIFT MEMORIAL CUP was presented to the winning team and will now be played for each time that Blackpool and Deeside play each other.

Steve Swift was the father of Corey Swift who now captains the new Seagulls team but previously played with Deeside, as Steve’s wife Learne explains: 

“Corey was at Deeside for two years and Steve drove him to training every Tuesday and to every game whether home or away. They knew they could always rely on him.  We have made many lifetime friends there who have continued to support us.

“It was Deb and Matt Humphreys who thought of the memorial game yesterday in his honour and provided the trophy. It was Steve’s pure generosity, kindness and friendship that made a large impression on everyone at Deeside.”

After the match, the Memorial Cup was presented by Steve’s brother Paul - who himself plays for the Blackpool Seagulls recreational team  - and sisters Debbie Biddulph and Jodie Baker.

Paul said: “It was a very nice gesture yesterday and we can't thank the ice hockey family enough, even with the Seagulls flowers at his funeral.

“The match and presentation were very poignant for us all. I haven't been down to play or train with the Seagulls since Steve died, but the kindness and warmth the team (Peter Bleackley, Darryl Kenyon, Gary Shearman etc ) have shown makes me realise and look forward to returning to the ice.”

Photo (left to right): Corey Swift, Debbie Biddulph, Paul Swift & Jodie Baker with the Steve Swift Memorial Cup.  Photo by Peter Heyworth - www.styleimage.co.uk

Under 16 Match Details: Blackpool Seagulls 10 - Deeside Dragons 3

Sunday 28th September 2014
EIHA Under 16 North League Division 2
Blackpool Seagulls 10 - Deeside Dragons 3

Period Scores: 4-0, 3-1, 3-2
Penalties In Minutes: Seagulls 8 - Dragons 12

Seagulls Scoring: Jacob Lutwyche 3+1,  Corey Swift 2+1, Charles Ratcliffe 2+0, Alexander Porter 2+0, Nathan Frankel 1+2, James Bruce 0+2,  Thomas McFadden 0+2, Lewis Bennett 0+2

Dragons Scoring: Callum Wilson 2+0, Billy Perks 1+0, Liam Richards 0+1

The Steve Swift Memorial Cup was awarded to the winning team after the game. (read more about that HERE )

Match Report by Darryl Kenyon:
It's 20 years since a competitive league ice hockey was played in Blackpool, but on Sunday the stars of the future took to the ice at the new Fylde Coast Ice Arena in their first home league fixture in the Under 16's North 2. Two weeks after their first game away at Sheffield, where a close game eventually ended in a 7-4 loss, the Seagulls were looking for their first points and their first silverware against Deeside.

Playing for the inaugural Steve Swift Memorial Cup, the home team took just 4 minutes to open the scoring through Jacob Lutwyche. Two minutes later the lead was doubled by Charles Ratcliffe. Blackpool were now finding their touch and two quick goals from captain Corey Swift with assists from Jimmy Bruce and Nathan Frankel in his first game for the club made the first period score 4-0.

The second period started like the first with Lutwyche opening the scoring with a solo effort before Alex Porter scored his first goal for the team assisted by Lewis Bennett. A goal from Deeside was soon followed by a second from Ratcliffe rounding off the second period with a score of 7-1.

Final period and a second goal from Porter after 29 seconds, assisted again by Bennett, had the home team sensing a rout, but Deeside responded with 2 quick goals following a spell of pressure where the Seagulls struggled to get out of their own end. However, they managed to weather the storm and a debut goal from Nathan Frankel but any hopes of a comeback from the visitors well and truly to bed. The game ended as it started with a very well taken solo goal from Lutwyche to clinch his hat trick. Final score of 10-3 gave the home fans plenty to smile about.

Most Valuable Player awards went to Alex Porter for Blackpool and Billy Perks for Deeside. The Steve Swift Memorial Cup was presented to his son, Seagulls captain Corey Swift.

On the same night, the Seagulls under 10's made their first ever appearance in the cross ice version of the game at Blackburn.  Playing against teams from Manchester, Telford and hosts Blackburn, the young Seagulls did exceptionally well. None of these players had played a competitive game prior to this, some have only just learnt how to skate. The coaching team was very pleased with the effort shown by all and was happy to see the players enjoying their long awaited first game.

The next home game for the Under 16's is Saturday 25 October against Solihull, with the Under 10's playing the following day against Blackburn, Deeside and Manchester. Supporters are more than welcome on both days.

Blackpool Seagulls are recruiting players of all ages, boys and girls. Training sessions are Monday and Thursday 6pm to 7pm for beginners who can skate to a required level. Hockey learn to skate courses are available on Saturday and Sunday mornings at Fylde Coast Ice Arena. Call 01253 590333 for details.

Laidler Conference Weekend Round Up - 27th & 28th September

Last season’s league and play-off winners Solihull Barons sit top of the table with 5 wins from their first 5 games following a 6-1 home win over second place Sheffield Senators and a 27-1 win away at bottom team Bradford Bulldogs.

The new Telford Tigers NIHL team picked up two more wins at the weekend – beating Deeside 5-2 at home and then winning 7-6 away at Coventry Blaze and they now sit comfortably in mid-table with  a 100% record of 3 wins from 3 games.
Deeside Dragons picked up their first win of the season at the 6th attempt with a 5-0 shut-out of Hull Jets which counted for double points so their league position already looks a lot healthier than it did 7 days ago.

Photo: Solihull's new Swedish import Niklas Ottosson scored 6+4 in the Barons' 27-1 win away at Bradford Bulldogs.  Photo by James Birtwistle

Moralee Conference Weekend Round Up - 27th & 28th September

Billingham Stars remain top of the table with 3 wins from their 3 league games but didn’t have a league game last weekend. Sutton Sting played their first games at the weekend, drawing 2-2 with Blackburn Hawks despite being outshot 2:1 by their visitors and then losing 4-2 away at Whitley Warriors on Sunday.

Defending champions Solway Sharks have yet to play a Moralee conference game at all, having played all English Challenge Cup North games to date.

Telford Tigers’ EPL side sit top of the ECCN group table having already beaten Solway, Billingham and then Blackburn 7-1 on Sunday. Solway Sharks played two more cup games last weekend, losing 1-5 at home to Sheffield Steeldogs and then winning 2-4 away at Billingham Stars.

Photo: Match action from the Telford Tigers EPL v Blackburn Hawks ECCN game.  (Photo by John Milton - www.eventog.uk )

Monday 29 September 2014

Sunday's Results At A Glance - 28th September 2014

Moralee: Whitley Warriors 4 - Sutton Sting 2

ECCN: Telford Tigers EPL 7 - Blackburn Hawks 1
Billingham Stars 2 - Solway Sharks 4

Solihull Barons 6 - Sheffield Senators 1
Deeside Dragons 5 - Hull Jets 0 (Double Points)
Coventry Blaze 6 - Telford Tigers 7

South 1:
Oxford City Stars 3 - Streatham Redksins 7
Solent Devils 1 - Bracknell Hornets 11

Photo: Solway Sharks' two-goal hero Richard Bentham scores against Billingham Stars in the ECCN
Photo by David Morrison (www.david-morrison-photography.co.uk/Solway-Sharks)

Saturday 27 September 2014

Saturday Night's Results At A Glance - 27th September 2014

Moralee: Sutton Sting 2 - Blackburn Hawks 2

ECCN: Solway Sharks 1 - Sheffield Steeldogs 5

Bradford Bulldogs 1 - Solihull Barons 27 (unconfirmed)
Telford Tigers 5 - Deeside Dragons 2
Sheffield Senators 7 - Blackburn Eagles 2

South 1:
Streatham Redskins 9 - Solent Devils 6
London Raiders 9 - Oxford City Stars 6
Wightlink Raiders 8 - Invicta Dynamos 7
Bracknell Hornets 0 - Chelmsford Chieftains 3
Cardiff Devils 2 - Milton Keynes Thunder 3

South 2: No games

Photo: Luke Brittle scores Blackburn Hawks 1st goal away at Sutton Sting (photo by John Milton - www.eventog.uk)

Tuesday 23 September 2014

South 2 Weekend Review - Provided by Bristol Pitbulls

Week 3 of the 2014-15 NIHL2S season gave us our first insight this season to four teams.

Wightlink Tigers trip to play in the new Slough Jets Live first home game was ever bit as difficult as it looked on paper as they started the season with an 11-1 cup loss.

Tigers did hold their hosts to a 1-1 when Ricky Attrill answered an early Ben Ealey-Newman goal. But, Attrill scored from one of only th...ree shots on goal created by Tigers in that first period. While their shot count did go up as the game went on, Slough simply skated away with the game in the second half.

Zoran Kozic made an early claim on the scoring title with 3+6. Alan Green's 2+6 and Josh Ealey-Newman's 4+2 would suggest the trio could be fighting for that honour amongst themselves.

A much improved Peterborough Islanders scored in the first minute at Oxford Ice Rink against the Bristol Pitbulls to start their season in spectacular fashion with an 8-4 cup road win against a team who had a phenomenal road record last season.

3-0 down at the end of the first period, Bristol spent long periods chasing shadows. In fact, they found themselves 5-0 down with nearly half the game gone before they finally started to ring the red light themselves. The fact that they won the second half of the game 4-3 will be of little consolation.

Nathan Pollard led scoring with a 2+3 performance, while his brother Connor, Shaun Yardley and Connor Stokes all chipped in with a brace each. For the home team, Jordan Smith also got two, while Adrian Smith finished on 3 points.

As we suggested in the preview, Cardiff was the place to be this weekend as Swindon Wildcats managed a four-goal comeback to beat the Cardiff NIHL Devils 4-3.

A goal up after 19 seconds and 3-0 up after just nine minutes, thanks in part to Zak Sullivan's two goals, Swindon replied with four of their own to take a rare win out of South Wales. Last season, Cardiff didn't lose at home until the last game of the season. This year, they've started with a loss.

Ben Nethersell led scoring with three assists. Former Pitbull, Luke Merrick, played his first game for Cardiff, coincidentally against the team he'd left.

Finally, Bristol responded to their poor showing against Peterborough with a convincing 9-3 league win at the Basingstoke Buffalo.

In a fast-paced game, Bristol showed a greater level of quality in front of the net to take a 4-1 lead. After that, Bristol looked comfortable controlling the game.

In his 100th game for the club, Matt Thornhill was the only Pitbull to score multiple goals with a deuce. Adi Smith, Olly Shone, Jordan Smith and Grant Richardson also scored single counters. But, special mention has to go to Zach Dolphin scoring his first for his new team, just eight days after his brother Josh had done the same, Janne Virtanen scoring against his adopted hometown team in his first game back from injury and Tom Asprey scoring only his second senior goal in eight years of trying.
Words by Graham Goodman - Bristol Pitbulls Media Officer
Photo: Bristol Pitbulls v Peterborough Islanders courtesy of Flyfifer Photography www.flyfifer.co.uk

South 1 Match Report: Solent Devils 1- London Raiders 4

Despite recording over sixty shots on the London Raiders the Devils still found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-4 scoreline.

The Solent Devils failed to settle in the penalty ridden stop-start match and seemed unable to settle in their only match of the weekend. They still however outshot their hosts 63-46 but came up against an in-form netminder, only managing to beat him once. The Devils spent virtually the whole of the second period on the powerplay, but simply couldn’t seem to get their powerplay units working on the night, even conceding a short-handed goal.
The match started at a fast pace, with both teams having opportunities in the first few minutes. But the tone of the match was set in the first minute as the referee called his first of twenty four separate penalties in what wasn’t really a physical match. Ralfs Circemis came close whilst the Devils were short-handed, but his shot was tipped away by the London netminder. Chances came at both ends, with the Raiders looking to shoot from both long and short-range. Another good chance came for the Devils on the seven minute mark, as the team were yet again short-handed when defenceman Chris Beal broke free but was again denied by the Raiders netminder. The only goal of the period was scored by London, in the 14th minute whilst on the powerpay. In the final seconds Alex Cole’s blue line shot beat the netminder, but agonisingly just clipped the post and went wide.

A very scrappy second period saw the Devils have a number of 5 on 3 opportunities, and despite outshooting their visitors 27-13 were to lose the period 0-2. Frustratingly the first of these was conceded whilst the Devils were on the powerplay, as they were unable to respond to a London breakaway. Andre Magee, Drew Campbell and Alex Murray all came close but the luck seemed to be the Raiders this evening. Man of the Match Ben Lock had a shot from the blue line, but this went just wide in the closing minutes of the period.
Starting the final period 0-3 down the home team upped the pace, and yet again came close with powerplay opportunities in the opening minutes. Mitch Murray finally broke the Raiders’ shut-out in the 46th minute as he sneaked the puck in at the near post,  as Jamie Fitzpatrick was pressurising in front of netminder.  Drew Campbell almost pulled another back straight from the restart, but the puck went just wide. Continued pressure from Devils saw George Norcliffe get a breakaway, but he was denied yet again by the Raiders netminder. With just over 90 seconds remaining the Devils pulled their netminder in favour of an additional forward, but this risky strategy didn’t pay off as Raiders scored an empty net goal from their own end.
Solent Devils will look to regroup this week, and will be aiming to record their first win of the season next weekend as they visit Streatham on Saturday and welcome Bracknell on Sunday (7pm face-off).
by Simon Beal
Photo: Solent Devils import  Drew Campbell - photo by Dave Chapman



Monday 22 September 2014

Laidler Match Report: Widnes Wild 3 - Coventry Blaze 4

Last season's third placed team,  Coventry Blaze , were Sunday night's visitors to the Silver Blades Arena. Widnes Wild encouraged by their victory over local rivals, Deeside Dragons, welcomed back Sam Dunford. Ged Ruxton was preferred in net for Widnes.

The game opened at a furious pace and in the 2nd minute Chris Preston took a 2 minute holding penalty. As Widnes returned to 5 skaters, they opened the scoring when Filip Supa lobbed the puck past Laverick after good work from Bobby Caunce

After two good saves from Laverick, Widnes went further ahead. A powerful shot from the blue line by Pavel Vales was half saved but still crept past Laverick. A third goal came at 7.55 when an angled shot from the right was half saved and Filip Supa managed to force the puck home. Coventry immediately called a time out and immediately the game developed into a more even contest. At 9.40 Coventry opened their account when a Phillip Pollock shot beat Ruxton. Widnes continued to press and only a series of good saves from Laverick prevented more Widnes goals.

The second period opened with a much more determined and aggressive Coventry bossing affairs. It came as no surprise when Dale White added a second goal for the visitors. His high angled shot flew past Ruxton into the far wall of the net Coventry junior Mulcahey was having a big influence on the game, opening up the Widnes defence with shrewd passes.

At 33.27, a number of players became embroiled in an incident after Greg Ruxton had made a diving save in front of his net. Frustrations boiled over and three players went to the penalty box for 2 minute roughing penalties. With a man advantage, Widnes enjoyed a brief spell of control but they ended the period defending hard against waves of Coventry pressure.

The third period was one of great frustration for the Wild. Within the first six minutes, an error bringing the puck out of defence saw possession turned over the giant figure of James Pease firing past Ruxton for the equaliser. Inside a minute Coventry were in the lead. After heavy Widnes pressure, two searching passes out of defence saw the puck with Dale White, who beat Greg Ruxton with an accurate shot.

Going behind spurred Widnes on. Laverick made a terrific stop at the foot of the right post, followed by another blistering effort which hit the bar. Dunford, Supa, Caunce and Pollitt all went close. Laverick made a terrific save to stop the puck flying into the top left corner from Bobby Caunce and Lee Pollitt hit the post after breaking away on the right. Sadly, pressure didn't produce the end result.

Lee Pollitt took the MVP for Wild after an all action display.

After such a good start in the game, the final result came as a huge disappointment to players and coaching staff.

The next home game with be against a much improved Sheffield Senators on Saturday October 11th - face off 19.00.

The new ' Chuck A Duck ' game organised in the 2nd interval by the newly formed Supporters Club - the Wild Ones - is proving to be a huge success and fundraiser. Dozens of youngsters and adults lined up along the plexiglass walls to try and throw their duck closest to match mascot Pukka the penguin !

by Dick Gillingham

Photo by Geoff White - www.gw-images.co.uk

Laidler Conference Weekend Round Up - 20th & 21st September

Solihull Barons remain top of the Laidler Conference with 3 wins from 3 games having demolished Deeside Dragons on their own ice 0-7 on Sunday evening.  

Hull Jets are in second following a 7-1 home win over Blackburn Eagles and the Eagles themselves are in third following Saturday evening’s 8-1 home win over Deeside.

Last season’s runners-up Deeside Dragons are bottom of the table, having lost all four of their opening games.  

In the other Laidler games of the weekend, Coventry Blaze put their first points on the board with a 4-4 draw at home to Nottingham Lions and a 3-4 win away at Widnes Wild.

Photo:  Solihull Barons’ Richard Slater in front of goal against Deeside Dragons (Photo by Keith & Jenny Davies)

Moralee Conference Weekend Round up - 20th & 21st September

Billingham Stars are the new leaders of the Moralee Conference after their 2-6 win away at Manchester Minotaurs on Saturday evening. The Stars have three wins from their first three games and are now two points ahead of Blackburn Hawks who didn’t play at the weekend.

Defending champions Solway Sharks have yet to play a league game this season but they were in ECCN cup action on Saturday night away at EPL side Telford Tigers.  A weakened Sharks side were mauled 13-1 by the Tigers – who went on to win 2-5 away at Billingham Stars on Sunday night.   The EPL Tigers top the ECCN cup group at this early stage with 3 wins from 3 games but there is still a long way to go.

Photo: Duncan Speirs scores Solway Sharks’ only goal away at Telford Tigers EPL in the 13-1 ECCN defeat.  (Photo by David Morrison – www.david-morrison-photography.co.uk/solway-sharks)

Sunday 21 September 2014

Sunday Results At A Glance - 21st September 2014

All Sunday's results at a glance and in one place

ECCN: Billingham Stars 2 - Telford Tigers EPL 5

Hull Jets 7 - Blackburn Eagles 1
Widnes Wild 3 -  Coventry Blaze 4
Deeside Dragons 0 - Solihull Barons 7

South 1:
Oxford City Stars 6 - Wightlink Raiders 5
Chelmsford Chieftains 5 - Invicta Dynamos 1 (also counts for ECCS)
Solent Vikings 1 - London Raiders 4
Streatham Redskins 3 - Bracknell Hornets 2

Saturday 20 September 2014

Saturday Results At A Glance - 20th Sept 2014

All Saturday evening's results at a glance in one place!

Moralee:  Manchester Minotaurs 2 - Billingham Stars 6

ECCN: Telford Tigers EPL 13 - Solway Sharks 1

Sheffield Senators 10 - Bradford Bulldogs 0
Coventry Blaze 4 - Nottingham Lions 4
Blackburn Eagles 8 - Deeside Dragons 1

South 1:
Chelmsford Chieftains 4 - Cardiff Devils 2
Wightlink Raiders 3 - Milton Keynes Thunder 2

S1CB: Invicta Dynamos 12 - Streatham Redskins 4

S2CA: Bristol Pitbulls 4 - Peterborough Islanders 8
SC2B: Slough Jets 11 - Wightlink Tigers 1

Photo: Goal action from Blackburn Eagles v Deeside Dragons - photo by John Milton - www.eventog.uk

Wednesday 17 September 2014

South 2 Weekend Round Up - 13th & 14th September, provided by Bristol Pitbulls

It was the first game of the season at the Ally Pally with a real clash of the titans from the Eastern Conference as Slough Jets downed their hosts, the  Haringey Racers, 7-2.

Racers' home campaign started badly when they found themselves a goal down just two minutes in. And it didn't get any better. By the time th
ey scored their first goal, Jets had already lit the lamp a further five times and their were only six minutes left.

What had been a feisty game with many ten-minute misconducts dished out by referees Fusco and Evans finally blew over with just over two minutes left. Jets back-up goalie, Simon Johnston, who had replaced Tony Milton earlier in the third period, was thrown out of the game on a Game Misconduct and a Match penalty.  And they play each other five more times this season!

In Chelmsford, the Bristol Pitbulls came away with both points after beating the Chelmsford Warriors
6-4. Both teams traded goals through the first half of the game. But, two quick-fire goals with ten minutes left gave Bristol a 6-3 lead which was never really threatened.

Richie Hargreaves got the first Pitbulls hat trick of the season, while Josh Dolphin got his first goal for his new team with a strong Man of the Match performance. Brandon Ayliffe got a deuce for the Warriors.

So, after two weeks, Bristol top Group A of the NIHL2S Cup and Slough sit top of Group B. Racers are now 0-2 and now have a free weekend to regroup.

by Graham Goodman, Bristol Pitbulls Press Officer

Text reproduced from the Bristol Pitbulls'  Facebook Page with kind permission (click on link to access)

Photo courtesy of Flyfifer Photography - www.flyfifer.co.uk 

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Laidler Match Report - Deeside Dragons 6 - Widnes Wild 7

Wild's tough start to the season continued with a visit to Queensferry to meet the Deeside Dragons - league runners up last season. Former Wild player Aled Roberts lined up for the Dragons with former Dragon, Matt Wainwright in the yellow of Widnes. A noisy Widnes following led by horns and drums welcomed the team.

In a lively opening, both teams found themselves shorthanded as referees continue to clamp down on spoiling tactics. Both netminders were called on to make close range saves with Nicole Jackson in the Widnes net making a series of vital stops. The game came to life when, after continuous Dragons pressure, Shaun Dipnall was sent clear down the ice and he slotted low under the netminder for the opening goal. Despite a couple of 3 on 5 advantages, the visitors couldn’t find a vital second goal. A Ben Brown breakaway at 16.35 almost opened up the Dragons defence. As the period drew to a close measured passing in the Deeside end saw Pavel Vales pass quickly to the edge of the crease and Lee Pollitt to make it 2-0 to the Wild at 19.46.

The second period opened sensationally with Bobby Caunce feeding Filip Supa to fire past George Cox to make it 3 -0. Within minutes the Dragons were back in it a defensive error saw the home side on the scoreboard. The crowd were on their feet when a late hit on Wild saw both sides exchanging punches.

It ended with two Widnes and four Deeside players in the penalty box. Deeside scored a second at 25.46 a distance shot from Aled Roberts flying past Jackson. It was 3 -3 at 28.14, Roberts again finding the net. Tom Jacksons thunderous shot from the blue line at 32.29 came loose and Bobby Caunce restored the Widnes lead. Two minutes later a big Kieron Strangeway shot was fumbled. Filip Supa took control of the puck and fed Ben Brown to force the puck home to give the visitors a 5-3 lead.

The final period opened with a disallowed Widnes goal but at 44.58, pressure on the Widnes net saw Mike Jones force the puck home to bring the score to 5-4. An incident on the boards in the  Widnes end saw Dragons stalwart Parsons sent from the game. A minute later at 48.20 Filip Supa cut inside from the right to fire an accurate shot into the top left corner to give the visitors a 6-4 lead. Within seconds another wild effort was cleared off the Deeside line. In the 51st minute Shaun Dipnall's cross ice pass was tipped in by Supa for a 7-4 Widnes lead. By this stage the big Widnes fan contingent were roaring their favourites forward.

The last 5 minutes were pure torture for the visiting fans . A mix up in defence saw Andy Chappell fire high to pull one back for the Dragons.

At 56.57 Paul Davies also went to the dressing room for misconduct. A sixth Dragons goal at 58.20 brought the tensest finish possible but the Wild held out to record a famous derby victory. Matt Wainwright, a former Dragon , took the MVP for Wild.

Next week the Coventry Blaze are the visitors to Widnes with an 18.15 Sunday face off. Last season's third placed team are sure to provide top opposition for the fast improving Wild.

Dick Gillingham

Photo: Filip Supa scored a hat-trick at Deeside. Photo by Geoff White - www.gw-images.co.uk

Moralee Conference Weekend Review - 13th & 14th September

Last season’s runners up Blackburn Hawks are top of the Moralee Conference table with two wins from their first two league games following an 8-3 home win over Whitley Warriors on Sunday night.

On Saturday, Hawks had travelled to Solway for an ECCN cup game – which they lost 6-4 with a depleted bench.

Billingham Stars also have 4 points from their two leagues and sit in second place on goals, following their 10-1 win over Manchester Minotaurs on Sunday and 7-5 win away at Sheffield Spartans on Saturday.

However defending league champions Solway Sharks have yet to play a league, having played 3 games instead in the ECCN Cup of which they have won just the one.

Stars currently top the ECCN group table but there is a long way to go and none of the NIHL teams have yet faced at team from the EPL.

Photo: Solway Sharks v Blackburn Hawks by John Milton – www.eventog.uk

Monday 15 September 2014

Laidler Conference Weekend Round Up - 13th & 14th September

Defending champions Solihull Barons sit top of the Laidler Conference with 2 wins from their first two games - plus an extra couple of points as Sunday's 12-6 home win over  Blackburn Eagles counted for double points.

Widnes Wild are second with two wins from 3 games after last night's 7-6 win away at local rivals Deeside Dragons. As well as counting towards the Laidler Conference, that game was for the "Paul Dodd Memorial Cup" - in memory of Paul Dodd, a long term supporter of the Deeside Dragons who sadly died recently.

For the occasion, all the Dragons wore special Superman shirts with the name Paul Dodd emblazoned on the back.  Both teams obviously got into the spirit of the occasion with a real ding- dong old time hockey match in which the home side picked up 136 PIMs. to the Wild's 38.

On Saturday night, all eyes were on Yorkshire as the Laidler Conference's two newest team were both in action.

Bradford Bulldogs lost 2-7 at home to Nottingham Lions, picking up 121 PIMs in the process while Telford Tigers new NIHL team - made up of a Telford youngsters with the addition of a few wise heads in the shape of former EPLer and Titan Karol Jets and veteran of over 400 British League, BNL and EPL games Russ Plant. - won 7-5 away at Sheffield Senators.

In the other Laidler games of the weekend, Hull Jets beat Coventry Blaze 4-3 for double points and Senators beat Lions 5-4 on their own ice on Sunday night, outshooting their hosts by 45 shots to 29.

Photo: Deeside Dragons v Widnes Wild by Peter Sheffield - www.psd-images.co.uk

Sunday Results At A Glance - 14th September 2014

All tonight's NIHL match results are posted here - in one place and easy to follow!

Moralee:  Blackburn Hawks 8 - Whitley Warriors 3
Moralee: Billingham Stars 10 - Manchester Minotaurs 1

Laidler:  Hull Jets 4 - Coventry Blaze 3 (Double Points)
Laidler : Solihull Barons 12 - Blackburn Eagles 6 (Double Points)
Laidler: Deeside Dragons 6 - Widnes Wild 7
Laidler: Nottingham Lions 4 - Sheffield Senators 5

South 1: Bracknell Hornets 6 - Invicta Dynamos 7
South 1: Oxford City Stars 3 - Cardiff Devils 7

ECCS: Chelmsford Chieftains 1 - Basingstoke Bison EPL 5

S1CA: Solent Devils 4 - Wightlink Raiders 8

Photo: Solihull Barons v Blackburn Eagles by Lisa Jones

Saturday 13 September 2014

Saturday Results At A Glance -13th Sept 2014

All of tonight's NIHL Results can be seen below - all in one place and easy to follow!

Moralee:  Sheffield Spartans 5 Billingham Stars 7

ECCN: Solway Sharks 6 Blackburn Hawks 4
ECCN: Sheffield Steeldogs EPL 3 - Telford Tigers EPL 4

Laidler: Sheffield Senators 5 - Telford Tigers 7
Laidler: Bradford Bulldogs 2 Nottingham Lions 7
Note: Bulldogs Mark Gabbitas received 2+20+25+25+5+20 - ie 97 PIMs - in an incident on 60 mins

South 1: Invicta Dynamos 9 - Oxford City Stars 7
South 1: London Raiders  2- Bracknell Hornets 3
South 1: Streatham Redskins 5 - MK Thunder 6
South1: Cardiff Devils 5 - Solent Devils 4

ECCS: Swindon Wildcats EPL 4 - Chelmsford Chieftains 1
ECCS: Wightlink Raiders 1 - MK Lightning EPL 7

S2CUPA: Chelmsford Warriors 4 - Bristol Pitbulls 6
S2CUPB: Haringey Racers 2 - Slough Jets 7

Photo: Myles Dacres in action for the reformed Bradford Bulldogs in their 2-7 home defeat against Nottingham :Lions (Photo by James Birtwistle)

Monday 8 September 2014

Laidler Match Report: Widnes Wild 7 - Blackburn Eagles 0

For the second home game of the weekend Widnes Wild met an exuberant Blackburn Eagles  - fresh from their previous nights victory over Nottingham. Eagles included former Wild forward, Joe Charlton. Greg Ruxton was selected in goal for the North West derby and an enthusiastic crowd welcomed the teams.

The game opened at a furious pace with Widnes shots raining in on Nick Saxton in the Eagles net. Frustration spilled over in the 7th minute when a challenge on Saxton led to an altercation and fists raised. Bez Hughes took a two minute penalty.

It took until the 16th minute for relentless Wild pressure to bring a goal. Ben Brown won the puck behind the net and fed Lee Pollitt who fired home. In the final minute of the period, big Tom Jackson fired home from the blue line to give the home side a two goal lead.

It took less than two minutes of the second period for Widnes to go 3 - 0 ahead, Bez Hughes firing in . Within three minutes they were 4 - 0 up when Callum Ruddick thundered home a boomer from the blue line. Matt Wainwright was the next scorer with a powerful angled shot from the left at 25.20. Ben Brown made it six at 32.51 firing in from Lee Pollitts pass.

The flow was disrupted when a controversial tripping penalty in the 33rd minute saw the teams battling.

The final period saw two tiring teams feeling the effects of a double fixture weekend. A series of niggling penalties saw both sides defending short handed. The highlight for the home crowd came from a trademark Filip Supa goal at 48.04. After the home team had worked the puck around the zone , Supa got half a chance and lifted the puck past Saxton and into the roof of the net - 7-0. Widnes , after 2 periods of sustained attacking were feeling the effects  of two physical gamesnand as the final period drew to a close they found themselves defending shorthanded.

This was a much improved performance from the Wild with their controlled passing and creative attacking play, a joy to watch. Greg Ruxton, in the Widnes net , took the home MVP for a 29 shot shut out. All the Wild players emerged with credit from the game.

Wild travel to near neighbours, Deeside Dragons on Sunday night - hopefully encouraged by this convincing win.

Dick Gillingham

Photo by Geoff White - www.gw-images.co.uk

NIHL North & South Round up - 6th & 7th September 2014

Defending league and cup champions Solway Sharks had a bad start to the new season as they crashed  to two consecutive cup defeats in the ECC North – losing 2-5 at home to Billingham Stars and then being shut out 4-0 away at Blackburn Hawks.

The Hawks had opened their Moralee Conference league account 24 hours earlier with an 11-3 win away at Manchester Minotaurs  - with new signing Luke Brittle top scoring with 2+2.

In the Laidler Conference, Widnes Wild had the proverbial weekend “of two halves” as they were soundly beaten at home by reigning champions Solihull Barons by 10 goals to 1 on Saturday night before beating Blackburn Eagles 7-0 on Sunday.

The Eagles still have plenty to crow about however as they won their opening game of the season on Saturday, beating last season beaten play off finalist Nottingham Lions 3-2.  As the game counts for double points, it means that the Eagles already have more points after one game this season than they picked up in the whole of last season all together and find themselves in a somewhat loftier position in the league table than they have recently been accustomed to at this early stage of the campaign. 

In the other Laidler match of the weekend, Deeside Dragons were beaten 1-2 at home by Sheffield Senators.

In the only game of the weekend in NIHL South 1, two teams met who might not have been playing this season had things gone differently.  London Raiders beat Cardiff Fire 6-4 at Lea valley with Jakub Klima top scoring for the host with 3+2.

Defending champions Chelmsford Chieftain are going to have a busy time this season with a 36 game regular schedule in South 1 as well as taking part in the ECC South cup against EPL teams and the South 1 cup as well.  They beat Solent Devils 6-4 in the opening fixture of the South 1 Cup qualifying group on Sunday night in a close fought encounter.

In the only competitive match in NIHL South 2, Basingstoke Buffalo beat Haringey Racers in the B group of the cup competition.   
Photo: Blackburn Eagles Captain Jordan Ashington celebrates taking the lead against Nottingham Lions (Photo by Matt Strong)  

Saturday 6 September 2014

Saturday Night Round Up - 6th September 2014

On the first night of games in the 2014/15 NIHL season:

In the North 1 Moralee Conference, Blackburn Hawks won 11-3 away at Manchester Minotaurs, outshooting their hosts by 73 shots to 15. Hawks’ new signing Luke Brittle was top scorer with 2+2.
In the North 2 Laidler Conference, Blackburn Eagles beat Play Off finalists Nottingham Lions 3-2 in a game that counted for double league points.

Widnes Wild lost at home to reigning champions Solihull Barons 1-10.
In the ECC North, Solway Sharks lost at home to Billingham Stars 2-5.

and in NIHL South 1, London Raiders beat Cardiff Fire 6-4
Photo by John Milton www eventog.uk

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Challenge Match Report: Widnes Wild 0 - Blackburn Hawks 9

In the final pre season warm up game, Wild took on top Division One side Blackburn Hawks. The East Lancashire side were Play-off Champions in 2012 - 13  and finalists in 2013 -14. A good sized crowd welcomed the teams with a large, noisy following from Blackburn.
An interference penalty against Pavel Vales in the 2nd minute allowed the visitors an advantage from which Aaron Davies scored an opening goal. There was an immediate response from Widnes, with Shaun Dipnall breaking clear only to see his powerful shot well saved by netminder Dan Brittle. The first period saw the home side testing the visitors net with quick breakouts. However the home defence, struggled to cope with the speedy and highly skilled visiting forwards. Further Blackburn goals came from Luke Brittle and captain, Chris Arnone, in the 13th and 16th minutes respectively.
The second period was completely dominated by the visitors, who outshot the home side 20 to 1. Blackburn's speed and strength combined with the outstanding skills of the Brittle brothers, Adam and Luke,  finished the game as a contest. Blackburn goals came from Nurse, Davies, Adam Brittle and Riddoch. In an attempt to give all the club's netminders pre season time, Greg Ruxton replaced Stu Ashton in the 30th minute for Widnes.
A tactical change saw the Wild attack far more effectively but they found visiting netminder Daniel Brittle in outstanding form.
Bobby Caunce opened up the visitors defence ably supported by  Lee Pollitt and Filip Supa. Several outstanding saves from Brittle kept the home side scoreless and two further 52nd minute Blackburn goals from Luke Brittle wrapped up the scoring.
Pavel Vales took the MVP for Widnes with his skill and speed causing constant concern for the visitors. The game emphasised the major gulf between playing standards in the two divisions. For parts of the game Widnes matched their lofty opponents but could not match their finishing ability.

* The previous night, Wild visited Blackburn in the opening leg of the double challenge and suffered a 7 - 1 reverse. Sam Dunford took the MVP for Wild on his return to his former club, with Chris Preston scoring the Wild's lone goal.
Widnes Head Coach, Mark Gillingham was philosophical in defeat. 'We've taken on one of the best teams we could have faced twice in one weekend. It's obviously been a tough weekend, but we know what we have to aspire to. A huge positive to take was the fact that our best period we had of the six we played was the last one, so we've adjusted to the higher standard. That's something that will stand us in good stead when Solihull visit for our first league game on Saturday. '
The new league season gets underway on Saturday when reigning champions, Solihull Barons are the visitors - face off 19.00. The following night Blackburn Eagles visit Widnes, with an 18.15 face off. Seats are available on both nights, with doors opening an hour before face off.
Dick Gillingham
Photos by Geoff White - www.gw-images.co.uk
Top:  New signing Luke Brittle scores for Blackburn Hawks
Bottom: Widnes' new import signing Pavel Vales was Wild MVP

Monday 1 September 2014

Countdown To The 2014/15 Season in NIHL North & South

There are just 5 days to go until the 2014/15 NIHL season commences and we aim to bring you the best photos, match reports and news items covering the world’s fastest team sport - and featuring all 4 divisions in NIHL North & South.

In the North 1 Moralee Conference, we have 7 teams battling it out for the league title – the same teams as last year with the exception of Telford Titans who have folded. They will play each other twice at home and twice away which means a 24 match regular season.  The top 4 will then meet in a play off weekend to be staged at Solway in April.

Solway, Blackburn and Billingham are also playing in the EIHA Challenge Cup competition where they will be pitched in a group with 5 teams from the EPL. 

The North 2 Laidler Conference has all 8 teams from last season and 2 new ones in the shape of Bradford Bulldogs and a Telford NIHL Tigers side, which is being run as part of the Tigers EPL set up. The 10 teams will play each other twice at home and twice away making for a 36 game regular season schedule, although the EIHA has given permission for some games to be played for double points.

The top four teams will meet in a play-off weekend at Solihull in April and all four will – supposedly -  gain promotion to the Moralee Conference for the following season, with the bottom two from North 1 being relegated.

South 1 has 10 teams this season – the 9 from last time with the addition of Oxford City Stars who won promotion from South 2 – in a 36 game regular season.  The top South 1 teams will meet their Southern EPL counterparts in the Challenge Cup and there will also be end of season play offs for the top 8 in the division.

South 2 has 11 teams this time around and they are split into west and east conferences.  Each team plays the other teams in its own conference twice at home and twice away and the conference winners will play off to decide the overall South 2 champions.  There will also be a South 2 cup competition played in 2 qualifying groups with semi-finals and final.

SO there is much to look forward to over the coming months. Check back here on Mondays for our weekend updates!

If YOU would like us to feature YOUR match photos, game reports and NIHL news items, drop us a line to find out how: EMAIL

Photo:  N1 Blackburn Hawks beat N2 Widnes Wild 7-1 in a pre-season challenge match. (Photo by John Milton – www.eventog.uk)