Tuesday 29 March 2016

NIHL North Play Off Schedule Announced

The line-up for the NIHL North Play Off Weekend at iceSheffield on 9th & !0th April has been announced.

Widnes Wild will play Nottingham Lions in the first Laidler Conference semi- final at 10.30 on the Saturday morning.

Blackburn Hawks meet Solway Sharks in the first Moralee semi-final at 1.30

Deeside Dragons play Blackburn Eagles at 4.30pm in the second Laidler semi- final and

Whitley Warriors and Solihull barons will contest the Moralee second semi-final at 7.30pm

The Laidler Conference final will be at 2pm on the Sunday followed by the Moralee Conference final at 5pm

All matches will be broadcast live on NIHL Radio – www.nihlradio.com

Cardiff Fire Take South 2 West Title

Cardiff Fire won the NIHL South Division 2 Western Conference in their first ever season of competition after a 16-0 drubbing of Wightlink Tigers.

The Fire still have 3 games to play in their regular schedule but already can’t be caught as second place Basingstoke Buffalo have fewer points and no games left.

Chelmsford Chieftains Win South 1 Cup Final

Chelmsford Chieftains won their 3rd trophy of the season so far after they beat Streatham Redskins in the two legged final of the NIHL South Division 1 Cup.

They won  7-2 away and then 10-3 at home to secure the cup which  they add to the South 1 league championship and the South east Cup which they have already won.   

The Chieftains hope to win the clean sweep of all 4 trophies in the South 1 Play Offs which are played over 3 weekends in April.

Photo by Steve Sutherland – www.icecoldphoto.co.uk

Blackburn Hawks Win Second Moralee Title

Photo by Keith & Jenny Davies
Blackburn Hawks received the Moralee Conference trophy after their home game against Solihull Barons. They finished 8 points clear of second place Whitley Warriors and this is their second league title in a row.

The Hawks are in the hunt for an historic treble with the NIHL North cup still to be won with games this weekend and the Moralee Playoff Weekend at iceSheffield on 9th & 10th April.

Deeside Dragons Crowned Laidler Champions

Deeside Dragons were crowned Laidler Conference champions of Saturday night after their final league game of the season. Unfortunately, the game was cut short after Scott McKenzie – player coach of opponents Widnes Wild – took his team off the ice in the 25th minute after serious injuries to two of his players and refused to continue the game.

The score was 3-1 to Deeside at the time and EIHA officials decided that the result would stand as Widnes refused to finish the game.

Deeside finished 10 points clear at the top of the table and take a league title to North Wales for the first time since Flintshire Freeze won ENL North back in 2004.

Photo by British American Sports Network.

Saturday 26 March 2016

WPL Match Report: Widnes Wild Women's Team 3 - Swindon Topcats 3

Saturday 26th March 2016
Widnes Wild Women’s Team 3 – Swindon Topcats 3

Period Scores: 1-1, 1-2, 1-0
Shots on goal:  Widnes 35 – Swindon 30
Penalties In Minutes Widnes 4- Swindon 6

Scoring: Widnes - Abigail Culshaw 2+0, Leen de Decker 1+0, Katie Hills, 0+1, Catherine Bowen Fell 0+1
Swindon – Rebecca Inker 1+1, Rebecca Da Cova 1+1, Rebecca Osman 1+0,  Sarah –Jane Fletcher 0+1

MVPs:  Widnes – Stephanie Drinkwater / Swindon – Rebecca Inker

Referee: Samuel Campbell
Linesmen: Jack Pearce / Josh Humphreys

The Widnes Wild women’s team picked up a well-deserved point against league leaders Swindon Topcats in an entertaining and highly competitive 3-3 draw at Silver Blades Widnes on Saturday.

The table topping Topcats arrived on Merseyside with an unbeaten record so far this season – having only dropped one point in their 8 games – in a 2-2 draw away at Nottingham Vipers.

The Wild women took the game to the visitors from the off but, once again, it was the away side who found the back of the net first – with the opening goal from Topcats’ top scorer Rebecca Da Cova (assist Rebecca Inker) coming after just 2.43 of the match.

Widnes outshot Swindon 11 to 8 in the first period but it was another 10 minutes before former Belgian international Leen De Decker scored the equaliser for the Wild (12.46 - unassisted). The score remained the same at the end of the first period. The match was finely poised and, with the confident way that the Wild women were playing, an upset was possibly on the cards.

The Wild women took the lead right at the start of the second period with an excellent strike from Abigail Culshaw (20.54 - asst Catherine Bowen Fell) scoring her first goal for Widnes. 

The lead lasted less than 3 minutes as Captain Rebecca Inker pulled the Topcats back level on 23.43 with an unassisted goal and then Swindon retook the lead on the halfway mark with a goal from player coach Rebecca Osman (30.41 – assts Sarah-Jane Fletcher & Rebecca Da Cova).

To their credit, however, the Widnes women dug deep and that was the last time that the visitors hit the back of the net.

The final period was extremely close and you couldn’t get a proverbial cigarette paper between the two teams. Then Abigail Culshaw broke through and lifted the puck over the Topcats’ netminder to put Widnes back on level terms.

Neither team sat back settling for the draw and both teams had countless chances to win the game. A slashing call on Widnes’ Abigail Hayes in the dying minutes kept hearts in mouths and the Wild on the back foot as they managed to keep the Topcats out shorthanded for almost two minutes and claim a well-earned point.

The result means that the Widnes Wild women’s team closes up to within 2 points of Slough Phantoms who are in 4th place but have played 3 games more.

They are away at second from bottom Chelmsford Cobras next Sunday – 3rd April – and then at home to the same opposition on Sunday 10th April in a 7.30pm face off. 


Monday 21 March 2016

Exclusive Interview With Jeremy Cornish

Our NIHL South Editor Chris Randall brings you a fascinating new interview with Wightlink Raiders' Player Coach Jeremy Cornish.

To read it, click HERE

Chelmsford Warrtiors Are NIHL South Division 2 North Champions

Chelmsford Warriors were crowned NIHL South Division 2 Eastern Conference Champions at the Chelmsford Chieftains S1 game on Sunday. They had made sure of the title the week before by winning 2-3 away at second place Peterborough Islanders and now have just one away game left to finish their regular schedule. 

The Islanders are confirmed second as they are a massive 16 points ahead of 3rd place Haringey Racers, although the teams below them still have games to play.

Both Peterborough and Chelmsford qualify for the S2 play offs where they will meet the top two teams in S2 West. These look likely to be Basingstoke Buffalo and Cardiff Fire, although there are still a lot of games to play in that division.

Blackburn Hawks are Moralee Conference Champions

Blackburn Hawks' title celebration
(Photo by John Milton - www.eventog.uk)
Blackburn Hawks secured their second NIHL North 1 Moralee Conference title in a row after a 7-0 shut out of Solway Sharks on Sunday evening.

The  Hawks needed just 1 point from their last 3 league games to be sure of the title and their cause was helped with second place Whitley Warriors losing 4-1 in the north-east derby at Billingham Stars the same night.

24 hours earlier Solway Sharks had beaten Telford Tigers in a double points game which confirmed their participation in the end of the play offs – something that looked unlikely earlier for much of the  season as they remained rooted in the bottom half of the table.  

The Warriors are guaranteed second place as they cannot be overtaken and Solihull Barons are currently in third place and make up the quartet of play off semi-finalists.

However, Solway still could overtake Solihull for third place  as they have a double point home game against Sutton Sting on Saturday while Solihull travel away to Blackburn.

Saturday 19 March 2016

Widnes Wildcats Summer Cup Dates Announced

The Widnes Wildcats recreational team have announced their list of Summer Cup fixtures for 2016. The home games arranged so far – with more likely to be added as time goes by - are:

29th May (Sun) Solihull Vikings Home Summer Cup

10th July (Sun) Whitley Bay Islanders Home Summer Cup

17th July (Sun) Blackburn Falcons Home Summer Cup

14th Aug (Sun) Durham Dragons Home Summer Cup

21st Aug (Sun) Cleveland Comets Home Summer Cup

The Wildcats’ home games face off at 4.30pm and admission is FREE

You can find out more by following them on their Facebook page HERE

Friday 18 March 2016

New Book Available Now: Fylde Flyers - A Complete Record

Fylde Flyers - A Complete Record

Tells the fascinating story of the short lived club that brought competitive ice hockey back to Blackpool and the Fylde Coast for the first time in over 20 years – continuing a proud tradition in the resort that dates all the way back to the 1930s.

Contents include Game by Game Match Reports and Gamesheets and an A to Z Player Directory

Selling Price: £10.00 (including free UK postage & packing)
For more details - and purchase link click HERE

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Marc Twaite Autobiography - Pre Order From Publisher Now!

Former Nottingham Panther, Milton Keynes King and occasional Cardiff Devil and Sheffield Steeler Marc Twaite has written his autobiography - which interestingly combines memories of his impressive ice hockey career with his lifelong involvement in fishing.

Copies are available to pre order now from publishers Little Egret Press and you can find out more about this fascinating new book HERE

We hope to be able to bring you a review once the book is out in April.

Laidler Conference Round Up - Weekend of 12th & 13th March 2016

In the Laidler Conference, champions Deeside Dragons beat a short benched Bradford Bulldogs 9-1 on Saturday and the Bradford side had an even harder night on Sunday when they were shut out 13-0 by second place Widnes Wild.

Player coach Scott McKenzie scored an impressive 6+2 for the Wild and was involved in Widnes’ first 8 goals. He sat out the second half of the game once it was obvious the contest was won and Slovakian Michal Fico weighed in with 0+4 in a game that saw the hosts outshoot their opponents 71 to 30.

Wild are now guaranteed their place in the play offs and, if they finish second in in the table - as looks likely – they will play Sheffield Spartans home and away in the promotion / relegation playoff.

The other two play-off places have gone to Nottingham Lions and Blackburn Eagles. Both teams beat Coventry Blaze over the weekend and they are now involved in a fascinating tussle to decided which team will finish 3rd and who will finish 4th. As well as the pride of finishing in a higher position, that will also decide who they play in the play-off semi-finals.


Moralee Conference Round Up - Weekend of 12th & 13th March 2016

Solihull Barons away at Sheffield Senators on Saturday
(Photo by Keith & Jenny Davies)
Solihull Barons had the best of the weekend Moralee action with a 4 point weekend that guarantees their place in the play offs and also went some way to settle other issues at the top of the league table.  On Saturday night they beat bottom team Sheffield Senators 4-7 away – making it 28 defeats out of 28 starts for the team who already relegated.

On Sunday night they beat title challengers Whitley Warriors 6-4, inflicting the north east team’s first defeat in 10 games and effectively ending their championship ambitions. With league leaders Blackburn Hawks shutting out Telford Tigers 4-0 on Sunday, it means that the Hawks only need one point from their 3 remaining league games to win their second league title in a row.

Solway Sharks picked up three points out of a possible 4 with a 4-6 win over Sheffield Spartans on Saturday and a 3-3 draw back at iceSheffield again on Sunday against Sutton Sting.  Those results mean that the three iceSheffield teams currently occupy all three bottom places in the table and that the Spartans will now definitely finish second from bottom and take part in the relegation play-off against the team that finishes second in the Laidler Conference.

5th place Billingham Stars won 1-9 away at Sheffield Senators on Sunday night and are level on points with 4th place Solway, although the Sharks have games in hand and look most likely to take the last play-off spot.

Saturday 12 March 2016

New Dragons Book Project - Can YOU Help?

Interim cover design
To commemorate the Deeside Dragons 2015/16 Laidler Conference title success, we are producing a souvenir book that will celebrate over 40 years of ice hockey history in North Wales.

In order to make this as comprehensive as possible, we would like to hear from anybody who has any photos, match programmes or other memorabilia that we could use in the book, particularly relating to :

-          The early days of the Deeside Dragons in the mid 1970s

-          The Dragons’ 1993/94 English Conference winning season

-          The Flintshire Freeze 2003/04 ENL North title winning season.

Although team photos, match photos or player photos from other periods would be most welcome too.

In the first instance, please drop us a line HERE.  The book is being produced as fundraising  measure for the Dragons club and we hope that it will be available to purchase at the start of the 2016/17 season.

Tuesday 8 March 2016

NIHL North Round Up - Weekend of 5th & 6th March 2016

Second place Whitley Warriors moved to within a point of Moralee Conference  leaders Blackburn Hawks with a 6-3 win over play-off contenders Solway Sharks.  The Hawks were without a league game at the weekend as they were playing Widnes Wild in the NIHL North Cup.

With just 3 games left to play in their Moralee Conference league schedule, the Warriors still have an outside chance of overtaking the Hawks for the title but the defending champions do have a game in hand and 3 of their 4 remaining games are at home.

Solihull Barons still look favourites to finish in 3rd place after a 4 point weekend courtesy of wins away at local rivals Telford Tigers and at home to Sheffield Senators.     They are 6 points clear of 4th place Billingham Stars with a game in hand and 4 left to play. The Stars are precariously hanging on to the final play off place by a single point after they drew 4-4 at home to Telford on Sunday.

That point moved them above Solway Sharks who beat Sheffield Spartans on Saturday and then lost at Whitley on Sunday.

The Sharks have games in hand and will play both Telford and Sutton at home for double points to make up for games cancelled due to the bad weather in December.  

In the Laidler Conference, Widnes Wild edged closer to securing second place with a 4-7 win away at Hull Jets on Saturday.  3rd place Nottingham Lions lost 2-1 away at Blackburn Eagles on Sunday meaning they are 4 points behind the Wild, having played a game more.

With Altrincham Aces losing 3-2 away in Hull on Sunday night, Blackburn Eagles need just one point from their 4 remaining games to guarantee play-off hockey for the first time in their history.

Sunday 6 March 2016

Chelmsford Chieftains Secure South 1 League Title

Chelmsford Chieftains secured the NIHL South Division title last night after a 5-9 win away at bottom club Cardiff Devils.

With 5 games still to play, the Chieftains are 10 points clear of second place Invicta Dynamos and have a superior playing record in games between the two clubs, which means that they can't be overtaken.

WPL Report: Widnes Wild Women's Team 3 - Streatham Storm 3

Leen De Decker scores for Widnes against Streatham
(Photo by Steve Pollitt)
Saturday 5th March 2016
Widnes Wild Women’s Team 3 – Streatham Storm 3

Period Scores: 2-1, 0-0, 1-2
Shots On Goal: Widnes 28 – Streatham 25
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 6 – Streatham 6

Widnes Scoring: Leen De Decker 2+0, Katie Hills 1+0 Lucy Kirkham, Amanda Williams, Elizabeth Wright all 0+1

MVPs: Widnes Emma Bevan (NM) – Streatham Melissa Reidelberger

It is really difficult to set down on paper what a closely fought, exciting and tense game of ice hockey this was to watch.  The match was played at a tremendous pace throughout and Streatham were definitely the best visiting women’s team seen so far at the Hive this season.

Widnes took the game to Streatham from the off but as has been the case in all 3 women’s home games this season so far, the visitors scored first – through Polish player Monika Suchanek (asst Catherine Pinder) - with just 1.32 on the clock.

That lead however, lasted just 99 seconds as former Belgian international player - and Widnes' top scorer this season so far - Leen De Decker (asst Elizabeth Wright) levelled the score on 3.11  and added a second on 10.21 (asst Amanda Williams) to give the Wild the narrow lead that their work rate certainly deserved.

The rest of the period was goal-less and was followed by whole period of goal-lessness as the scores remained the same at the second break.  The second period was so close that both netminders had exactly the same number of shots each (9) to contend with.

When Katie Hills managed to break the deadlock for Widnes in the 45th minute (44.02 asst Lucy Kirkham)  to put them 3-1 up, one might have hoped that they would start to press home their home advantage and gradually start to pull away.

However, instead of crumbling at that point, Streatham upped their game and scored a second goal through Danielle Hogan (45.23 asst Sarah Audsley) to pull their way back into the game.

The match was up and down throughout and Streatham drew level on 50.29 with an unassisted goal by Suchanek and the final 10 minutes were agonisingly tense to watch as both sides chased the win. 

Widnes had the greater possession but Streatham looked increasing dangerous on their breakaways. Wild’s GB international Sarah Hutchinson took a tactical tripping penalty in the last minute to break up one such attack and the short-handed Widnes team weathered the Storm to secure a hard-earned point.   

18 year old netminder Emma Bevan – playing her first game for Widnes, having played for Sheffield Shadows in National Division 1 North division this season – deservedly received the MVP award for her heroics in the Widnes net.   

Following this result, the Widnes Wild Women’s team are 5th in the Women’s Premier League with 7 points from their 6 games to date, with games in hand over all the teams above them.

They are next in action against league leaders Swindon Topcats – who beat them 1-0 away earlier in the season – on Saturday 26th March at Silver Blades, Widnes in a 4.30pm face off.  

Wednesday 2 March 2016

NIHL North Cup Update

Blackburn Hawks beat Widnes Wild 12-2 on Saturday night to take over at the top of the group for the NIHL North Cup. They have a 100% record in the competition, along with Billingham Stars who they have yet to meet in this competition.

The Cup is won by whichever team tops the round robin group after all 4 teams have played each other home and away. Widnes Wild – the only team from the Laidler Conference have lost their two cup games to date and Solway Sharks have lost both home and away to both Blackburn and Billingham and just have games against Widnes left to play.     

Laidler Conference Round Up - Weekend of 27th & 28th February 2016

League leaders and new champions Deeside Dragons had to come back from 2-1 down to beat Bradford Bulldogs 5-8 on Saturday night.  The Bulldogs are battling to avoid bottom place and were overtaken by Coventry Blaze who picked up a 6-4 win over Altrincham Aces.

The defeat means that the Aces have lost ground on with Blackburn Eagles as the two teams chased the final play off place. The Eagles picked up a hard fought 8-5 win over second place Widnes Wild on Sunday  and remain 4 points to the good in 4th place. Altrincham beat Coventry 6-2 on Sunday but are 4 points behind with just 4 games left to play.

Moralee Conference Round Up - Weekend of 27th & 28th February 2016

Billingham Stars had an excellent weekend in which they picked up 4 points and moved up into 4th place – and a potential play-off berth.

They leapfrog Telford Tigers - who they beat 3-4 away on Saturday night – and then beat freefalling Sheffield Spartans 10-1 at home on Sunday.  The Stars are now 2 points ahead of the Tigers but have played two games more.

Solihull Barons’ tenure of 3rd place looks a little more  shaky after they lost both their games at the weekend. They lost 7-5 away at ever-improving Solway Sharks on Saturday and then 8-4 away at second place Whitley Warriors on Sunday.

Warriors have now played the same number of games as league leaders Blackburn Hawks – who did not have a league game at the weekend and are 3 points clear at the top with 4 games left to play.

The situation at the bottom of the Moralee Conference is interesting with both Sheffield Spartans and Sutton Sting in a battle to avoid the relegation play off. Sheffield Senators are already doomed to finish bottom of the table and face automatic relegation but the team that finishes second bottom will play off home and way against the team that finishes second in the Laidler Conference.   

Former league leaders Spartans currently occupy that berth. two points behind Sting and having played a game more.   Both teams have double headers against Solway Sharks to come but Sutton also play Sheffield Senators in their last league of the season so may just have the easier run in.