Monday 16 December 2019

Oddballs Player Of The Month Awards For November 2019

Widnes Wild woman's team captain Emma Pearson was named WNIHL Div 1 North Player of the Month for November (Photo by Paul Breeze)

The National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) and Women’s National Ice Hockey League (WNIHL) have announced their Oddballs Players of the Month for November.

Each winner will receive an ‘Obble Hat’ courtesy of our friends at Oddballs. Oddballs manufacture clothing and underwear for men, women and kids while at the same time raising funds and awareness for testicular cancer.


The shortlist for November is: Jason Hewitt (Hull Pirates), Scott MacKenzie (Telford Tigers), Dan Weller-Evans (Basingstoke Bison).

November’s NIHL National Player of the Month is DAN WELLER-EVANS. In a run of starts this month, Weller-Evans won five of six games and posted save percent and goals against average among the top goalies in the league.


Division 1 (Moralee) has shortlisted Phil Edgar (Whitley Warriors), Lewis Houston (Solway Sharks) and Tom Soar (Solihull Barons).

The Oddballs POTM for November is PHIL EDGAR. In his third season with Whitley, Edgar has led the Hillheads outfit to Cup semi finals and top of the league, potting seven goals including a hat-trick against Solihull Barons.

Division 2 (Laidler) shortlist for the month is Warren Gilfoyle (Hull Jets), James Shaw (Dragons), Vlads Vulkanovs (Altrincham Aces).

The winner of the November award is VLADS VULKANOVS. The Latvian hit the net in all six games, totalling 13 goals with two hat-tricks as the Aces push up towards the playoff spots.


In Division 1 (Britton), the three shortlisted players were Christian Cole (Solent Devils), Ben Ealey-Newman (Bracknell Hornets), David Millner (Bracknell Hornets).

November’s winner is CHRISTIAN COLE. ‘Chico’ posted .918 save percentage in the month as Devils kept their unbeaten record at the top of a super-competitive title race.

Wilkinson Division 2 have named Joe Bliss (Invicta Mustangs), Jake Luton (Invicta Mustangs) and Bailey Wooton (Peterborough Phantoms 2) as their shortlist.

The November winner is JOE BLISS. Mustangs were a perfect 6&0 in the month backed by Bliss’ 10 goals and nine helpers.


First of all in WNIHL, the Elite League player of the month is MEGAN BURTON (Solihull Vixens). Megan made the step up to senior women’s hockey last season, asking if she could train with the Vixens. Her focus and hard work got her noticed and she was offered a team spot at the start of 2019 and has been a regular team member ever since. Megan’s focus, work rate and dedication has not faltered or wained since and she has now become a stable, composed, mature and reliable top line D partner. The Vixens played 2 games in November, winning 5-4 and 6-0 with Megan not missing a shift and picking up a +- of +7 over the 2 games.

In the Premier League, the POTM is MYA HAREWOOD (Cardiff Comets). As the youngest player on our team, Mya may be small, but she is mighty. In November we gained our first point in the Premier League in a draw against Chelmsford Cobras which Mya was integral for. She scored a fantastic hat-trick in the game – all unassisted – and was a force on the power plays. She truly stepped up to the challenge of this new league, and continues to be an inspiration for players new and old to the team.

For Division 1 South, the WNIHL POTM is JODIE ATTRILL (Slough Sirens). Jodie has been voted in as captain this season and has been leading by example with great attitude both on and off of the ice. This includes assisting the coach by ensuring off ice warm up is undertaken and getting everyone mentally ready for the game. Jodie played a vital part in our win over Streatham this month as she has changed her style of play in which she lead the girls to work hard and get the win

Finally in Division 1 North, EMMA PEARSON (Widnes Wild) is the Player of the Month. Emma had a hand in seven of the teams nine goals in the month, along with the encouragement given to beginner players on and off the ice as well as setting up off ice sessions for the players. She does a large amount off the ice as well with managing the team Fixtures Live.

Congratulaions to all winners and nominees, the Oddballs ‘Obble’ hats are on their way. Thanks to our friends at Oddballs for their continued support, visit  to view their full ranges for men, women and kids.

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 – 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

Friday 18 October 2019


The National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) are delighted to welcome OddBalls as sponsor of the Player of the Month awards.

Each divisional winner will receive one of the iconic OddBalls 'Obble' hats which will soon be available in 37 amazing colourways.

OddBalls was founded in 2014 with two main objectives: raising awareness of Testicular Cancer; and providing customers with the best underwear in the world.

The Oddballs Foundation was set up in 2016 after the success of OddBalls. Profits from OddBalls are donated to the Foundation to raise awareness of Testicular Cancer. Every single penny that is raised or donated is used to raise awareness, the Foundation has no overheads or costs and it is something they are proud to promote.

OddBalls have expanded their ranges recently to include accessories and clothing for women, teens and kids - all in fantastic designs and all raising funds for and awareness of Testicular Cancer.

We can also confirm that the Player of the Month awards have been expanded to include the WNIHL (Women's National Ice Hockey League) which began at the start of October. Five divisional players will be awarded their own OddBalls Obble and recognised as the player of that particular month.

NIHL/WNIHL media officer Craig Simpson said: "I am delighted to welcome OddBalls as the first sponsor of our Player of the Month awards, and am grateful to Will and his team for their fantastic support.

"We are also pleased to be able to extend the awards to cover the WNIHL which matches OddBalls' recent move to provide clothing for women.

"I can't wait to see the first OddBalls Player of the Month winners with their iconic headwear."

OddBalls managing director Will Cooper said: "It’s fantastic to partner with the National Ice Hockey League, hopefully it is the first step into becoming a recognised brand in the ice hockey world."

To see the full range of OddBalls underwear, sportswear and accessories visit

For more about the NIHL and WNIHL visit

Dumfries To Host International Four Team U18 Women’s Tournament

Ice Hockey UK will link-up with Dumfries and Galloway Council to host a four-team international women’s tournament in Dumfries in November.

Great Britain Under-18 Women will be joined by Poland U18 Women, Spain U18 Women and Iceland Women for the tournament at the Dumfries Ice Bowl from Friday 8th to Sunday 10th November 2019.

GB Women head coach, Cheryl Smith, said: “Tournaments like this are fantastic preparation for a World Championship and they benefit the squad so much.
“I am sure there will be new faces on the under-18 roster this year, so getting them competitive games ahead of a World Championship is important.
“It is important for them and also for the coaches as we will get to see how they react in a game situation.”

It’s the fifth year of the tournament but this season Iceland Women will take the place of Hungary U18 Women.

Andy French, IHUK general secretary, said: “It is fantastic to be holding the four-team tournament once again.

“This year we welcome Iceland to the tournament and I would like to thank all the nations and Dumfries council for their co-operation.”

Councillor Adam Wilson, Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Events Champion, said: “We are excited to hold another international tournament at the Ice Bowl in Dumfries.

“We have a great working relationship with Ice Hockey UK and we look forward to welcoming GB, Poland, Spain and Iceland to the Ice Bowl.”

Schedule and ticket prices will be confirmed in due course.

Thursday 10 October 2019

NIHL Player of the Month Awards - September 2019

The National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) are pleased to announce the winners of September’s Player of the Month in each of our five competition divisions. A panel of independent media experts have deliberated and the winners can be revealed.

The Players of the Month for September are:

NIHL National – Tomasz Malasinski (Swindon Wildcats)
Malasinski has been the go-to player for the Wildcats and although he has been scoring an average of 2.5ppg, this is against a background of very strong line and team mates which has made standing out far harder than it would have been were he on another team.

Also shortlisted – Matty Davies (Hull Pirates), Nathan Salem (Sheffield Steeldogs), Radek Meidl (Leeds Chiefs)

NIHL North 1 – David Longstaff (Whitley Warriors)
Six goals and six assists for the evergreen forward, scoring a goal in 30 consecutive seasons. Has spearheaded the Warriors’ offence in their early games including a hat-trick against Solway Sharks. Still possesses uncanny passing ability around the net.

Also shortlisted – Jaakko Heiskanen (Solway Sharks), Thomas Soar (Solihull Barons)

NIHL South 1 – Sean Norris (Slough Jets)
Highly rated Slough Jets forward Sean Norris has lived up to his billing, leading the scoring charts in the Britton Conference. The youngster’s eight goals and eight assists have helped his side top the table losing just once in their opening six games.

Also shortlisted – Vanya Antonov (Streatham), Adam Carr (Streatham), Sam Talbot (Slough Jets)

NIHL North 2 – Thomas Humphries (Sheffield Senators)
In the ultra-competitive Laidler divison, Humphries has led the Sens to third place in the league with 2-1-1 record. Humphries has potted eight goals and added four assists which included a hat-trick at Telford, scoring the OT winner for good measure.

Also shortlisted – Mark Florence (Hull Jets), Joshua Stockton (Bradford Bulldogs)

NIHL South 2 – Stephen Woodford (Haringey Huskies)
Huskies captain Stephen Woodford impressed in the month of September, leading from the front as he scored seven goals and assisted on a further five to help the North London club to an unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Also shortlisted – Kamil Kinkor (Streatham 2), James Pentecost (Haringey Huskies)

An NIHL spokesman said: “Congratulations to all of the winners, even early in this season the teams are playing some great hockey and it was not an easy decision for our panels to pick their shortlist let alone the eventual winner.
“The October contest begins today and we’re looking forward to another fantastic month of NIHL hockey right across all divisions and here’s to another closely fought Player of the Month award.”

Photo credits: Tomasz Malasinski by Steve Brodie. David Longstaff by IceHockeyMedia. Sean Norris by Slough Jets. Thomas Humphries by Steve Brodie. Stephen Woodford by Phil3 Productions

Thursday 19 September 2019

Widnes Wild Women's Team Preview - WNIHL Div 1 N Season 2019/20

Wild celebrations during the women's team's 6-10 pre-season win over Solway (Photo by Douglas McCallum / Copper Tree Photography)

The Widnes Wild Women’s Team play their first home game of the season this Sunday 22nd September when they take on the Solway Sharks Ladies Team in a pre-season challenge match at Planet Ice Widnes – 5.30 p.m. face off.

The Wild Women are playing in Division 1 North this Season, where the Sharks are likely to be one of their main challengers for the league title. The Wild Women beat the Solway team 6 – 10 in a friendly game back in August but both teams will have different players available for this encounter, so it should be a fascinating game.

The game will also see the launch of the Edith Smith Memorial Award for Most Valuable Player, which will be presented at each of the Wild Women’s home games this season. The award commemorates Edith Smith who was Britain’s first Warranted Woman Police Officer, who is buried in St. Mary’s churchyard, Halton.

The women’s game against Solway this Sunday faces off at 5.30 p.m., admission is just £1 per person and the café will be open.

The full list of fixtures for the Wild women’s team this season is:

Sunday 22nd September: Home v Solway Sharks (Challenge Match) Face off: 5.30pm
Edith Smith MVP Trophy Launch

Sunday 6th October: Home v Sheffield Shadows - Face off: 5.30pm
Match Sponsor: Unison Liverpool John Moores University & Andrew Shutt, Paul Boardman, Martin Naden and Sam Ellison.

Saturday, 16th November: away at Telford Wrekin Raiders

Sunday 15th December: Home v Solway Sharks - Face off: 5.30pm
Match Sponsor: Available

Saturday 21st December: away at Sheffield Shadows

Sunday 5th January 2020: Home v Nottingham Vipers - Face off: 5.30pm
Match Sponsor: Available

Saturday, 11th January 2020 away at Grimsby Wolves

Sunday 16th February 2020: Home v Grimsby Wolves - Face off: 5.30pm
Match Sponsor: Available

Sunday 1st March 2020: Home v Telford Wrekin Raiders - Face off: 5.30pm
Match Sponsor: Available

Saturday, 28th March 2020: away at Solway Sharks

Saturday 18th April 2020: away at Nottingham Vipers

30th/31st May 2020: Women’s Play Off Weekend at Sheffield

You can find out more about sponsorship opportunities for the Widnes Wild women’s team for the new season HERE

Widnes Wild Weekend Preview: 21st & 22nd September

Wild's Jakub Hajek (#12) fires in a shot in the 2-3 away win at Blackburn (Photo by Thomas Foy)

The YKK-sponsored Widnes Wild are away in cup action this Sunday 22nd September, when they take on Moralee Division Blackburn Hawks at the Planet Ice Arena in Blackburn – 5.30 p.m. face off.

This will be quite a test for the Wild as, while they have already played the Hawks twice in pre-season games – winning the away encounter 2 – 3 in Blackburn and then losing 5 – 10 at home – but form from warm-up games counts for very little when it comes to the competitive season.

The Wild have taken the bold step of entering the NIHL Midland Cup this year, which will put them up against four teams from the higher Moralee Division – Blackburn Hawks, Sutton Sting, Solihull Barons and Nottingham Lions. There is a wide gap in terms of team budgets and standard of play between the two Divisions but it will be a useful exercise for the Wild to judge where they currently stand competition-wise in relation to the higher tier.

It will be an even tougher test this weekend, as the Wild will be missing six players – M.J.Clancy, Mikey Gilbert, Dan Bracegirdle, Tom Ratcliffe and Chris Gee are all unable to play through injury, while Czech import Michal Novak, who had a good pre season, will be missing for personal reasons. This notwithstanding, a game against the Hawks is always very entertaining and it will be fascinating to see what happens on Sunday.

The Wild are then away to Sheffield Senators the following Saturday 28th September and are next at home the day after on Sunday 29th September, when they entertain Nottingham Lions in the Midland Cup at Planet Ice Widnes. Face Off is at 5.30 p.m. and doors open at 4.45 p.m.

The new Wild Academy Under 18 Team play their first ever home game this Saturday, 21st September 2019, when they take on the Solihull Under 18 Team at Planet Ice, Widnes. The game faces off at 7.45 p.m. and admission is free.

The Widnes Wild Women’s Team play their first home game of the season this Sunday 22nd September when they take on the Solway Sharks Ladies Team in a pre-season challenge match at Planet Ice Widnes. Face off is at 5.30 p.m., admission is just £1 per person and the café will be open.

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Blind Ice Hockey - First Ever UK Event

Action from the UK's first ever blind ice hockey event - held at Planet Ice Widnes (Photo by Hannah Walker)

The Planet Ice Rink at Widnes played host to the first ever Blind Ice Hockey event to be held in the UK on Saturday 14th September. The aim was to introduce blind and visually impaired people to the sport and attracted participants from across the country.

Blind ice hockey uses a larger than normal sized puck, which has ball bearings inside so that players can hear where it is. Coaches and volunteers are also on the ice to guide players while they play and oversee safety. The organisers – Blind Ice Hockey UK – are organising similar taster events at other rinks across the country and are hoping to attract more participants with a view to setting up a team for future paralympic competitions.

The next taster course will take place at Oxford Ice Rink on Saturday 12th October at 4pm.

You can find out more from the organisers, Blind Ice Hockey UK HERE

Photo left:  A participant trying out blind ice hockey, with a helper. Photo right:  Nathan Tree (blind ice hockey player) with Widnes volunteers Andrew Wycherley and Colin Ellis.  (Both photos by Hannah Walker)  

Monday 12 August 2019

Summer Classic Cup: Wyre Seagulls Win Play Off Trophy

The Wyre Seagulls won their second Summer Classic Cup Play Off title in a row, with a thrilling 0 – 4 win over the Flintshire Phantoms in the Play Off Final at iceSheffield on Sunday, 11th August 2019. 

It was an exciting finale to a Tournament that started back in December 2018 and included ten teams, split into Eastern and Western Conferences.  Both the Seagulls and the Phantoms qualified for the Play Offs weekend by finishing first and second in the Western Conference, respectively. 

The Phantoms snatched the top spot in dramatic fashion with a 1 – 4 away win over the Seagulls in a game that was played at the Planet Ice Rink in Widnes, due to the Blackburn rink being closed for refurbishment.   Because of the timing of that final group game, there was no time left before the Sheffield weekend to arrange and play the quarter finals that had originally been expected, so the top two went straight into the semi finals.

With less disruption to the Eastern Conference fixtures, table toppers Grimsby Stormers beat Sheffield Ice Tigers 12 – 4 in the first quarter final and third place Kingston City Knights beat runners up, second place Whitley Wild Cats, 3 – 4 away in the north east to secure the other semi final berth.

In Saturday’s Play Off semi final games, the Wyre Seagulls beat the Grimsby Stormers 9 – 5 and the Flintshire Phantoms beat Kingston City Knights 8 – 2 to set up a repeat of the Western Conference battle for Sunday’s Play Off final.

The third place game between the two Eastern Conference sides saw Grimsby Stormers beat Kingston City Knights.

The Play Off final saw the Wyre Seagulls beat the Phantoms 4 – 0, with goals from Christian Wareing (2), Adam Fleet and Matt Duncan the difference between the two teams.  

Somewhat fittingly, the Wyre Seagulls became the first team to lift the highly impressive Summer Classic Trophy, which is similar in size and design to the world-famous Stanley Cup and which has been named in memory of former Blackburn Rec. ice hockey player Rob Craig.  

The exceptionally well organised ice hockey Summer Classic Cup will return for 2020, possibly with different teams and different arrangements, or possibly not, and we are very much looking forward to it. 

Congratulations to the organisers, and all the teams, volunteers and officials involved and huge thanks to all the sponsors.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Summer Classic Cup: Wyre Seagulls 1 - Flintshire Phantoms 4

Summer Classic Cup Western Conference Winners Flintshire Phantoms (photo by Paul Breeze)

Saturday, 27th July 2019 - Howies UK Summer Classic Cup

Wyre Seagulls 1   -   Flintshire Phantoms 4 (played at Widnes, Planet Ice)
Period Scores:  0 – 2, 1 – 0, 0 – 2.
Penalties in Minutes:  Seagulls 14 – Phantoms 8
MVPs:  Seagulls – Michael Gallery/Phantoms – Michael Rogers

Match Officials:  Scott Anstey/Kiron Furlong
Scorer:  Sofi Jenkins
Time Keeper: Lucy London
Penalty Boxes: Sam Calderbank
Announcer: Paul Breeze

The Planet Ice Rink at Widnes hosted a thrilling finale to the Western Conference Group Stage of the Summer Classic Cup on Saturday with a highly entertaining game between the Wyre Seagulls and the Flintshire Phantoms. 

The Wyre Seagulls usually play their home games in Blackburn but, as their home rink is currently closed for major refurbishment work, they have been training and playing their home matches in Widnes.   This game was of particular importance as it featured the top two teams in the Western Conference with a winner-take-all scenario to secure the top spot.

The Wyre Seagulls entered the game with a one point advantage over the Phantoms in the Group Table, which meant that a draw or overtime win would hand them the title, whereas the Phantoms would need a win in regular time to leap frog them into first place.

The game was very closely fought throughout with little to choose between the teams.  The opening phase was very tight, with opportunities at both ends and the break-through did not come until the 16th minute, when the Phantoms scored two quick-fire goals - through Sterling Steeves and Ondrej Liebelt – within 10 seconds of each other, a crucial lead that they carried with them into the first break.  

The second period was even closer, with the only goal coming in the 27th minute from the Seagulls’ Conor Duthie to halve the deficit and set up a knife-edge final period.  However, any hopes that the Seagulls had of forcing an early equaliser were thwarted when the Phantoms extended their lead in the 44th minute with a goal from George Perrett.  The visitors further extended their lead with a second goal from Steeves 5 minutes later, leaving the Seagulls with too much to do to try and catch up. 

The 1 – 4 win means that the Flintshire Phantoms finish top of the Summer Classic Cup Western Conference, one point ahead of the second place Seagulls.  Both teams have qualified for the Play Off stages of the competition, where they will come up against the top teams from the Eastern Conference and which culminates in a final in Sheffield on 11th August 2019.

MVPs for the Phantoms and Seagulls respectively were Michael Rogers and Michael Gallery, 
presented by Sam Calderbank. (Photos by Paul Breeze)

Full Line Ups & Player Statistics:

Wyre Seagulls – David May, Michael Gallery (NM 60 min. 2 PIM), John May, Dan Coxon (Captain), Chris Brumby (2 PIM), Ryan Homer (2 PIM), Daniel Skelton (2 PIM), Adam Fleet, Ben Cleary, Christian Wareing (0 + 1), Mark Jenkins (2 PIM), Conor Duthie (1 + 0), Scott Anthony-Jones (2 PIM)

Flintshire Phantoms – Jason James (0 + 1, 2 PIM), Steve Furber, Gareth Jones, Brian Chalmers, George Perrett (1 + 1), Jason McGee, Juan Aspero, Michael Rogers (NM, 60 min.), Oliver Meadows (2 PIM), David Meadows (2 PIM), Anthony Hughes, Stirling Steeves (2 + 0, 2 PIM), Kenneth Valyear, Ondrej Liebelt (1 + 0),

Saturday 20 July 2019

Widnes Wild Women Launch Sponsorship Initiative for 2019/20 WNIHL Season

The Widnes Wild womens’ ice hockey team have launched an ambitious new sponsorship initiative to help support their title challenge in Division 1 North of the Womens National Ice Hockey League for the 2019/20 season.

The team would ideally like to raise £7.000 overall to help with operating costs for the new season, which include league registrations, new away playing shirts, ice time costs, match official fees and other fees and equipment costs that arise.

The Wild women are keen to build relationships with local businesses and individuals and have different sponsorship packages to suit all pockets and budgets.

These packages include:

  • £600 to pay for new away shirts for all playing members in 2019/2020 (1 available)
  • £300 for Home Game Night Sponsor (10 available)
  • £50 for Individual Player Sponsor (several available)
Depending on the level of sponsorship taken up, sponsors will receive company advertising opportunities at home games and on team social media, public address announcements during home games and photo opportunities before and after the game.

Wild women sponsorship co-ordinator Kat Garner with Poet In Residence Lucy London who is
sponsoring the MVP awards once again this season. (Photo by Paul Breeze) 

One happy sponsor from last season has already renewed their support for the 2019/20 campaign! Poet In Residence Lucy London sponsored the MVP awards for last season’s home games in memory of World War 1 heroine Sarah Macnaughtan and she has chosen to commemorate Edith Smith – the first warranted Woman Police Constable in the country, and who is buried in Runcorn – for this year’s awards.

For information about these sponsorships and the other packages that are available, interested parties are asked to contact sponsorship co-ordinator Kat Garner on 07522109220 or via email HERE

Earle Road Elks and Manchester Swarm Raise Over £1000 for Pulmonary Hypertension Charity

Earle Road Elks team photo by Mark Ferris (All Sports Photography)

The organisers of a recent fund raising ice hockey match played at Planet Ice Widnes in aid of the Pulmonary Hypertension Association UK have announced that the game has raised £1,025 for the charity.

The game was played between the Widnes-based Earle Road Elks team and the Manchester Swarm and was organised by Elks captain David Winstanley whose mother died from the condition.

The final score was 12-7 to the Elks with goals coming from Luke Williams (2+1), Joseph Barker, Liam Braines (both 2+0), Stephan Bark (1+1), Nathan Berry, Bobby Samari, Thomas Jenkins, Kurt Haggerty & Dave Winstanley (all 1+0).

You can still support David's fundraising effort by following the Just Giving link

Monday 15 July 2019

Summer Classic Cup: Riverside Raiders 8 - Blackburn Buccaneers 3

Sunday 14th July 2019 - Howies UK Ice Hockey Summer Classic Cup
Riverside Raiders 8 - Blackburn Buccaneers 3
Period Scores;  1-0,
Penalties In Minutes:  Raiders - Buccaneers

Match Officials:  Josh Humphreys & Will Fielden,

The Riverside Raiders team rounded off their Summer Classic Cup campaign with an entertaining 8-3 win over the Blackburn Buccaneers at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.
The previous meeting between the two teams had ended in a 3-3 draw with a penalty shoot out

deciding the winner in Blackburn’s favour and this game looked likely to be just as close.

The Raiders took an early lead with a goal from Jack Walker just 84 seconds into the game and, with the rest of the period playing out goal-less, went into the first break holding on to that slight advantage.

Two more goals for Walker - on 25 and 28 minutes - edged the Raiders into a reasonable lead but the Buccaneers still looked dangerous going forward and they managed to pull a goal back through a Michael Walsh penalty shot in the 34th minute.

A powerplay goal from the Raiders’ Matthew Lennox on 38 minutes re-instated the 3-goal lead and the home side took a 4-1 advantage into the second break.

It was the Buccaneers who scored first in the third period with another goal from Captain Michael Walsh but two quick-fire strikes within 30 seconds of each other – from Mike Filek and Lennox again – effective finished off the game as a contest.

Bobby Samari scored for the Raiders on 52 minutes and the Buccaneers Glenn Rattray (who normally plays in goal!) fired in the visitors’ last strike on 56 minutes.

The scoring for the evening was rounded off by Jordan Birtwistle a minute later and the Raiders were able to celebrate their first home win in this summer’s competition.

The MVP awards, presented by Howard Smith, went to Buccaneers captain Michael Walsh and Raiders netminder Rob Melvin who put in another outstanding performance in goal

Monday 8 July 2019

Summer Classic Cup: Riverside Raiders 2 - Wyre Seagulls 10

Sunday 7th July 2019 – Summer Classic Cup
Riverside Raiders 2 – Wyre Seagulls 10
Period Scores: 0-3, 1-3, 1-4
Penalties In Minutes: Raiders 37 – Seagulls 37

Match Officials: Neil Herring & Ray Ormes
Scorer: Lucy London
Timekeeper: Howard Smith & Shannon Holt

The Riverside Raiders were beaten 2-10 by the Wyre Seagulls in a bruising yet highly entertaining Summer Classic Cup game at Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday.

The Seagulls arrived with the only 100% record left in the competition and, with a liberal smattering of former league players on their bench, were always going to be a tough team to beat.

However, as it turned out, the opening phase of the game was very even - with chances for both teams - and it took until the 8th minute for the Seagulls to take lead through a Matthew Duncan strike.

Two more goals gave the visitors a 0-3 lead at the first period break and they edged further ahead with a hat trick goal for Duncan and a fourth overall with just 2 minutes gone of the second period.

The Raiders finally opened their account on 25 minutes with a powerplay goal from Matthew Lennox and this served to lift them as a team and they surged forward in an attempt to further close the gap.

Unfortunately, this left them vulnerable at the back and the Seagulls scored two more goals to finish the period with a 1-6 lead. A fourth goal from the Seagulls’ Duncan in the 46th minute effectively ended the game as a contest and the visitors went on to score three more goals to edge their tally into double figures.

The game ended on a slightly more "lively" note than might otherwise have been expected as there was a bit of a skirmish - involving several players from both sides - with just three minutes left to play and which took considerably longer than that for the match officials to work out the resulting penalties.

Two players were banished to the dressing rooms for fighting and 4 further Raiders players and two Wyre players packed into their respective penalty boxes.

The Seagulls then managed to pick up two more penalties in the last minute of the game and the home side had the last laugh in terms of goals after Dave Priestley scored a powerplay goal with 27 seconds left on the clock.

While they may have lost the game, the Raiders gained a song as Poet In Residence Lucy London – who helps out as scorer for the matches – has written a song to cheer the team out onto the ice. The song has been set to music and recorded by Liverpool based Canadian musician Jason Moon and Lucy presented a CD copy of the "Riverside Raiders" song to the team’s Game Co-ordinator Howard Hughes after the match.

The Most Valuable Player awards went to Matthew Duncan for the Wyre Seagulls and Ben Donkin for the Raiders and were presented by young player Caleb Eddleston - who will be playing for the Wild Academy Under 9 team next season - and match volunteer Shannon Holt.


The Riverside Raiders play their last Western Conference game of this year’s Summer Classic Cup this Sunday 14th July when they entertain the Blackburn Buccaneers at Planet Ice Widnes.

The two teams drew 3-3 in their previous meeting with the Buccaneers taking the overtime win after a dramatic penalty shoot-out and Sunday’s game will be highly significant as it will help decide which of the two teams will qualify for the play offs. The game faces off at 4.30pm and admission is free.

The Most Valuable Player awards went to Matthew Duncan for the Wyre Seagulls and Ben Donkin for the Raiders and were presented by young player Caleb Eddleston - who will be playing for the Wild Academy Under 9 team next season - and match volunteer Shannon Holt  (Photos by Paul Breeze) . 

Full Team Line-Ups & Player Statistics:

RIVERSIDE RAIDERS: Alex Hannah, Michael Filek, Rob Melvin (NM, 58.45), James Kelly (0+1), Matthew Lennox (1+0), Howard Hughes (2PIM), Luke Williams (2PIM), Ben Donkin (4PIM) , Jeff Chapman-Watson, Jack Walker (0+1), Bobak Samari (2PIM), Daniel Trust (25PIM), Nicholas Jackson, David Priestley (1+0, 2PIM), Mike Teinert

WYRE SEAGULLS: Nicholas Hageman (2PIM), Mark Kay, Jonathan Brumby (1+0, 2PIM), Daniel Coxon, Chris Brumby (0+1), Matthew Duncan (4+3), Kieron Hardman (1+2), Matthew Milhench (NM 60mins), Matthew Hook (2+2, 2PIM), Daniel Skelton, Adam Fleet (2+1), Ben Cleary (0+1), Wesley Evans, Craig Pennington (0+1, 2PIM), Chris Wareing, Mark Jenkins, Conor Duthie (2PIM), Jordan Bradshaw (25PIM)

Tuesday 2 July 2019

BOOK REVIEW: “Poems about Cambridge Eskimos & Ice Hockey in the UK” by Bill Harris

If you are an ice hockey fan with a sense of humour and you also like poetry, you will, like me, absolutely love this book.

I have enjoyed reading poems as long as I can remember, having been encouraged by my parents and at primary school. Encouraged to write at secondary school, by my teens I was writing verse myself and sending my efforts off to local newspaper and magazines.

Appreciation of ice hockey came later. I suspect that, little like the fox in Saint-Exupéry "Little Prince", ice hockey has been gradually taming me for the past 20 odd years.

My husband, Paul, is a sports writer who has written several books about ice hockey, writes up match reports for websites and local newspapers and does the announcements for home matches of the YKK sponsored Widnes Wild Ice Hockey Team. He also provides the music and annoucements for the Widnes Widnes Women’s Ice Hockey Team and the Riverside Raiders Recreational Ice Hockey Team home matches. I try to help out by taking notes of the incidents during matches and in 2016 I began to keep the score sheet for the Raiders home matches.

I began to write silly verse to encourage the teams and then Paul put forward the suggestion that I could perhaps become the Resident Poet at the rink. So I have a Facebook Page where I share my crazy verse.

When Paul gave me a copy of Bill’s book, I was pleased to note that I was not alone in writing crazy ice hockey verse. Bill has a very different approach to mine – apart from the obvious – he is not only originally from Canada (where ice hockey was born) but he also plays and is coach of a team. Because of that, his poems reflect the changing room banter and the Preface to this edition of the book, and to the previous edition "Smokey and The ‘Smos" (of which this is an updated and revised version), which is also included, contain timely warnings as to the content of the poems and the spirit in which they were written. "I should warn readers that the language in this volume reflects the language of the locker-room. Please be prepared for profanity".

And Bill does not disappoint – 114 pages of wonderful ice hockey-related poems follow - wall to wall fun. I hope Bill will not mind if I share one with you. (I have chosen this with great care as, in these PC days, alas, you never know who is watching…)

"Eskimo roots" (page 43)

When we were wee squirts in lumberjack shirts
In the cold Canadian snow,
We never thought about Cambridge a lot
Though we were future Eskimos.
Then we played our parts and we played with our hearts
For we came from the lands of snow,
From our tiny tot roots we grew into the boots
Of Oxford-bashing Eskimos.

And that is just one example of a host of fantastic poems.

As it happens, I am also a life-long Cambridge supporter, beginning with the Boat Race when I was four years old, so that added to my enjoyment of the book. The law of averages suggests that, as there are two or us, there will be more – the hunt is on!


Lucy London, 1st July 2019


Product details

Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Independently published (10 May 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 109382909
ISBN-13: 978-1093829075
Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm

Mail order from Amazon HERE