Saturday 12 November 2022

Riverside Raiders Back In Action!

Riverside Raiders won the Summer Classic Play Off Title in 2017 (Photo by Chris Johnstone)

Friday 11th November – Challenge Match: Shropshire Huskies 4 – Riverside Raiders 3

The Widnes-based Riverside Raiders played their first game in over 3 years when they travelled to face the Shropshire Huskies in Telford on Friday night – narrowly losing out 4-3 in a closely fought challenge match.

As with all other recreational teams, the Raiders were forced into hibernation during the Covid lockdown and have spent the last year undergoing a period of rebuilding. The new look squad includes a mixture of familiar faces and some exciting new players - with a blend of youth and experience - and they had their first outing in a special Armed Force Night game at the Telford rink played in front of a sizeable crowd in aid of the Royal British Legion. 

The Raiders took the lead in the 4th minute with a goal from Rory Sillery - the former Widnes Wild Academy Under 18 player who was making his full debut for the team - but Shropshire hit back just seconds later and then edged into a narrow lead on 12 minutes.

This was a really entertaining game with end to end action throughout but there were no more goals in the first period and, indeed, not until mid-way through the second when the hosts struck again to lead 3-1 on 32 minutes.  The Raiders players’ heads did not drop however and they pulled a goal back almost straight away with Adam Jenkins taking advantage of a delayed penalty call to narrow the deficit to just one goal.

A fourth goal for the Huskies on 35 minutes restored their 2-goal cushion and it might have been more had it not been for a superb display by Tegan Lavery in the Raiders goal.  The former Wild women, Deeside and Blackburn league netminder faced an incredible 23 shots in the second period, stopping all but two of them.

The third period was very tight with chances on goal for both teams.  The Raiders scored again on 47 minutes with a goal from another debutant, Kai Gennoe – a former Solihull Barons U18s player and younger brother of Wild women’s forward Preston.    

There was still plenty of time left for the Widnes-based side to mount a comeback but the Huskies shut up shop at this point and sat back to protect their lead. 

The final score of 4-3 represents a very good result for the new-look Raiders against a very strong Shropshire Huskies side. 

Netminder Tegan Lavery received the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award for her superb display in goal for the Raiders, in which she turned away 41 of the 45 shots that she faced for a 91.11 Save %

Raiders Team & Stats: Elliot Michaels (0+1), Geraint Evans (0+1), Rory Sillery (1+0, 2PIM), Adam Jenkins (1+0), Ben Donkin (0+1, 2PIM), Luke Pengelly (2PIM), Nick Jackson, Emeli Vuorihovi, Tegan Lavery (NM - 45 shots), Andrew Birch, Alain Barthelemy, Dave Priestley (0+1), Kai Gennoe (1+1), Mike Teinert

Following a three year break from competition, the Riverside Raiders plan to take part in the 2023 Summer Classic Cup, a tournament in which they won the Play Off title back in 2017. Full squad details and fixture dates will be announced nearer the time. 

Saturday 15 October 2022

The Smokey Project - Support For Rescue Dogs And Shelters

Ice hockey photographer Lauren Hagan – who covers the Widnes based Mayhem sledge hockey (para) team - has set up a new dog-related initiative called “The Smokey Project”  in memory of her rescued Staffordshire Bull Terrier of that name who died earlier this year.

The aim of The Smokey Project is to raise awareness of the plight of rescue dogs and to support various dog rescue charities or shelters each year across the north west and beyond.

This year Lauren is organising a "Shoeboxes for Shelter Dogs" appeal and is collecting donations that will be given to the Cheshire and Manchester Dogs' Home in Harpurhey, Manchester, in the run up to Christmas.

She has set up a “wishlist” on Amazon where people can donate by selecting items from the page and they will sent straight to Lauren for inclusion in her Shoebox packages: 

There is also a Twitter account that can be used to follow the progress of the project and to make contact about direct donations:  

Here Lauren tells the story about Smokey the Staffy in her own words:

My Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Smokey, passed away on the 25th July this year unexpectedly (the day before my birthday). It left our family completely blindsided, and we're still trying to come to terms with losing him.

I rescued him in December 2009. He was a former bait dog (a dog used to train other dogs in dog fighting), and had numerous scars from it, and was left with nerve damage that would make his leg shake when he sat. He also had had his fur burnt on his left shoulder. He was scared of other dogs, going in the car and had never been on a walk before. It took him five years just to go for a wee on a walk.

It took him a little while to settle in, but when he did he became bold, bossy and extremely affectionate. He loved nothing more than cuddles, especially with my dad and they had a very special bond - he trusted my dad implicitly.

He seemed to know that my mum couldn't hear without her hearing aids, so if he thought she couldn't hear when the phone rang or there was someone at the door he would go get her. It sounds untrue, but it is true. I couldn't be bothered to root around in my bag one day for my keys and knocked on the door, and I heard him go get my mum who was drying her hair.

I'm trying to do something positive, so I've started The Smokey Project. In its first year, we hope to collect donations of toys, treats and food to give to a local dogs' home. This year it's Cheshire and Manchester Dogs' Home. I've called it "Shoeboxes for Shelter Dogs", the idea being that people fill a shoebox with items and donate that, but people can also pick something from the Amazon Wishlist if they so choose.

We've made a good start collecting donations, and in order to try and gain more exposure I've enlisted the help of the para ice hockey team that my husband coaches - the Manchester Mayhem. They're helping to promote "Shoeboxes for Shelter Dogs" on their social media accounts.

One of the players, Darren who plays in goal, is planning a sky dive to raise funds for the club and has so very generously said that he will donate some of the funds raised to The Smokey Project.

Although I'm starting small with The Smokey Project, I hope I can grow it year on year. The aim is to help raise awareness that rescue dogs are worthy of a second chance, and they can be amazing given time and patience. Of course, I'm also hoping that I can help to change the perception of Staffys too (even if only a little bit) - we did on occasion, have to listen to other dog walkers throw snide comments our way while walking Smokey, and all because he was a Staffy.

We hope to give all the donations to Cheshire and Manchester Dogs’ Home on the 17th December.

Monday 26 September 2022

Widnes Wild New Livestream Service For 2022/23 NIHL Season

Having been unable to go to big games for a while – for health and logistical reasons that I won’t bore you with – I was very pleased to learn that Widnes Wild have decided to offer a livestreaming service for their home matches this season.

It is being operated by BASN who produce the “Drop The Puck” series and the first game was screened this weekend when the Wild took on Whitley Warriors in the NIHL Moralee Division, which - if you don’t happen to know - is the third tier of British domestic hockey.

Now, I would much rather have been at the game in person – doing all the things I normally do - but, as that wasn’t practical, being able to sit and watch from the comfort of my own home (with considerably fewer layers of clothing on…) was a fairly decent substitute.

Having been brought up in the days before everything was IT-based and digital, I tend to be wary of modern technology and still possess things like VHS videos, audio cassettes and 78rpm records. Having said that, I found this livestream very easy to sign up for and also to access on the day of the game. I found the picture clear and easy to watch and the commentary audio was very entertaining and, more importantly - I got to see a game that I wouldn’t otherwise have seen. 

There is a cost involved in this, however, and the price of a viewing ticket for a Wild game to be streamed this season is £15.00.  There have been some discussions about how that figure compares with online streams of, say, Elite League games or NIHL National Division games which are of a higher level of competition – but all clubs and leagues have different economic considerations and, just because it MIGHT be cheaper to watch somebody else’s game in a supposedly “better league”, that’s not really any great attraction for me to want to do so.

A single adult ticket to a Wild home game costs £12.00. On top of that you have the cost of petrol to get there, drinks and snacks while you are there and so on. Paying £15.00 for an online livestream would, therefore, probably save you money – although not be anywhere near as much fun – but it is, at least, an option. Especially for away fans who might be unable to make the long journey down from Whitley Bay or Billingham on a Sunday evening. 

And all profits from the livestream go to the Wild club funds.   

So there you are – those are my thoughts on the Widnes Wild livestreaming service for the new NIHL season – take them or leave them as you wish. Go along to the game if you can as you will enjoy the atmosphere and the match night experience - but watching online is certainly better than missing out all together! 

Find out more at 

Paul Breeze - Ice Hockey Review Editor  

Wednesday 14 September 2022

British Para Ice Hockey Play Offs 2022 - Results & Match Stats

British Para Ice Hockey Play Offs 2022 (at Planet Ice Widnes) 

The British Para Ice Hockey end of season play offs were held at Planet Ice Widnes over the weekend – returning after a two year absence caused by the Covid Pandemic  

The top four teams in the league – which was played over the summer months – met in two semi finals on the Saturday and then in a 3rd place game and play off final on the Sunday.

The semi-finals ran pretty much to league form with league champions Cardiff Huskies beating Sheffield development side the “Steelstings”  5-1 and Sheffield’s first team - the Steelkings – despatching the Widnes-based Mayhem team 9-0.

The Mayhem secured third place overall with a 10-0 win over the Steelstings in the bronze medal game and Cardiff made it a league and play off “double” by beating the Steelkings 6-1 in a highly entertaining final.

Saturday 10th September 2022, Semi Final 1 – 5.30pm 

Cardiff Huskies 5 - Sheffield Steelstings 1 

Period Scores:  2-0, 1-1, 2-0 

Penalties In Minutes:  Huskies 2 – Steelstings  0

Huskies: Tyler Christopher (2+2), Kieron Miles (NM 60mins), Shannon Couch (1+0), Caitlyn Emmerson, Leanne Emmerson (2PIM), Josh Campbell (1+0), Emma Douglas, Jon Le Galloudec (0+1), Chris Smart (1+0)   

Steelstings:  Rachel Rawson, Daniel Clarke, Bill Hardy, Jack Grocock, Gary Whiteley, Matt Davis (NM 27.30 mins), Connor Grocock, David Scivill, Katie Reid, Russ Clarke, Zoe Davies, Sean Grocock (NM 27.30 mins), Andrew Atkinson (1+0), Damien Barker, Emily McLean 

Referee:  Neil Herring 

Timekeeper & Scorer: Colin Ellis

Saturday 10th September 2022, Semi Final 2 – 7.30pm 

Mayhem 0 - Sheffield Steelkings 9 

Period Scores:  0-2, 0-4, 0-3

Penalties In Minutes:  Mayhem 0 - Steelkings 0

Mayhem:  Amy Griffiths, Naomi Jenks, Karl Nicholson, Felicity Gregory, Tony Naylor, Dean Lahan, Anthony Booth, Tony Kimm, Darren Pomfret, Megan McEvoy, Mark Colquitt, Russell Willey, Peggy Assinck

Steelkings:  Matthew Franklin (1+0), Gary Farmer (4+1), Rebecca Moore (1+0),  Rachel Paget (0+1), Bryan Backworm, Andy Mead (1+0), Mike Rhodes, Wayne Plummer, John Oakley, Jake Oakley (2+1), Barry Grayson

Match Officials:  Neil Herring & Alice Horsfield

Timekeeper & Scorer: Colin Ellis 

Sunday 11th September 2022, 3rd Place Game  – 4.15pm 

Mayhem 10 - Sheffield Steelstings 0 

Period Scores:  2-0, 7-0, 1-0 

Penalties In Minutes:  Mayhem 25 – Steelstings 2

Mayhem:  Amy Griffiths, Naomi Jenks (2+10, Karl Nicholson (4+5), Felicity Gregory (0+1), Tony Naylor, Dean Lahan (2+2), Anthony Booth (1+1), Tony Kimm (1+1), Darren Pomfret, Megan McEvoy, Mark Colquitt, Russell Willey (0+1 25PIM) , Peggy Assinck

Steelstings:  Rachel Rawson, Daniel Clarke, Bill Hardy, Jack Grocock, Gary Whiteley, Matt Davis (NM 60mins), Connor Grocock, David Scivill, Katie Reid, Russ Clarke (2PIM), Zoe Davies, Sean Grocock, Andrew Atkinson, Damien Barker, Emily McLean

Match Officials:  Neil Herring & Steve French 

Timekeeper & Scorer: Colin Ellis

Sunday 11th September 2022, Play Off Final – 6.15pm 

Cardiff Huskies 6 - Sheffield Steelkings 1 

Period Scores:  1-0, 1-1, 4-0 

Penalties In Minutes:  Huskies 0 – Steelkings 2

Huskies: Tyler Christopher (2+1), Kieron Miles (NM 60mins), Shannon Couch (0+1), Caitlyn Emmerson, Leanne Emmerson, Paul Furber (1+0),  Josh Campbell (1+0), Emma Douglas, Jon Le Galloudec, Chris Smart, Nathan Stephens (2+2)   

Steelkings:  Matthew Franklin, Gary Farmer, Rebecca Moore, Rachel Paget, Andy Mead, Mike Rhodes, Wayne Plummer, John Oakley, Jack Oakley (1+0), Barry Grayson (2PIM)

Match Officials:  Neil Herring & Steve French 

Timekeeper & Scorer: Colin Ellis

Report compiled by Paul Breeze

Saturday 27 August 2022

Memorial Game For Murdered Policewomen - 17th September At Altrincham

From Blueline to Thin Blue Line: former GB international and Elite League player Paul Swindlehurst will be taking part in the 10th Anniversary memorial game in Altrincham (Photos by Scott Wiggins and Greater Manchester Police)

A charity ice hockey  match is being organised at the Planet Ice rink in Altrincham on Saturday 17th September to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the murder of two Greater Manchester police officers who were killed while responding to a burglary call.

On 18th September 2012, PCs Nicola Hughes and Fiona Bone were killed by Dale Cregan in a gun and grenade ambush in Tameside,  Greater Manchester. The incident was the first in the United Kingdom in which two female police officers were killed on duty. After his arrest, Cregan eventually admitted the killings, also pleading guilty to two other gangland murders, and was sentenced to a whole life tariff at Preston Crown Court.

The memorial match will be played between the “Peelers” team – which is made up of current and former members of police forces from across the north of England, along with other constabulary support staff - and the South Wales Police “Enforcers” team, who are based in Cardiff.

The game will feature a number of current and former GB internationals and Elite League players on both sides, including former Manchester Storm and GB defenceman Paul Swindlehurst who is now a PC with Greater Manchester Police.

The game at Altrincham faces off at 6pm on Saturday 17th September – with doors opening at 5.30 -  and tickets are on sale now at £6.50 for adults and £4.50 for children from

The Blue Light Vehicle Owners group and Greater Manchester Police  Museum will be in attendance from 4.30pm - bringing police vehicles, costumes and other Police items to allow spectators to take photographs etc before the game.

Proceeds from the game and will be going to 2 separate charities - the PC Nicola Hughes Memorial Fund & The Police Treatment Centre.

The match is kindly being sponsored by the Northern Police Healthcare Scheme & but the Peelers team are always keen to hear from new potential partners as title sponsor and jersey sponsors. For more information, interested companies or individuals are requested to contact the club by email at

Monday 15 August 2022

New Book Available: Wild Review - Season 2021/22

Relive the excitement of the 2021/22 ice hockey season with our in-depth coverage of all of the various Widnes Wild teams.  Crammed into one single volume we have all the player statistics, match reports and final standings for the:

YKK Widnes Wild NIHL team

Widnes Wild Ladies team

Wild Academy Under 18 team

Wild Academy Under 16 team

Wild Academy Under 14 team

Wild Academy Under 12 team

Wild Academy Under 10 cross ice team

Illustrated with superb photos from Geoff White of GW Images throughout.

Plus all of Poet In Residence Lucy London's Wild related poems for the 2021/22 season.

Available by mail order now - CLICK HERE

And why not check out the "Lockdown Lookback" potted history of the Widnes Wild while you are looking - CLICK HERE 

Tuesday 19 July 2022

Match Report: Mayhem 6 - Sheffield 3 (British Para Ice Hockey League)

Mayhem's Felicity Gregory and Mark Colquitt in action against the Sheffield Steelstings (Photo by @haganovaphoto)

Saturday 16th July – British Para Ice Hockey League

Mayhem 6 – Sheffield Steelstings 3

The Mayhem sledge team finished off their regular season schedule in the 2022 British Para Ice Hockey League with a highly entertaining 6-3 win over the Sheffield Steelstings at Planet Ice Widnes on Saturday.

Some of the matches in this first season of competition back after two years of inactivity due to the Covid lockdowns have been a bit one-sided but this game was very closely contested throughout and the final result remained in doubt until the very last seconds.

The first period was especially tight with plenty of chances for both teams and it took until the 14th minute for the deadlock to be broken. 

The opening goal came from the stick of the Mayhem’s team captain Karl Nicholson and the score remained 1-0 at the first period break.

Tom Kimm extended the lead for the Mayhem with a goal just 46 seconds from the restart and Nicholson added his second just 60 seconds after that.

Two minutes later Sheffield pulled a goal back but a hat-trick goal from Karl Nicholson on 21 minutes brought the score to 4-1 and meant that the Mayhem carried a 3-goal cushion into the final period. 

A fourth goal from Nicholson on 35 minutes looked to have put the Mayhem well in command of the game but the Sheffield team did not lose heart and hit back with a strike of their own just 20 seconds later. A further goal for the Steelstings with only 28 seconds left on the clock narrowed the score to 5-3 and set up a tense last few moments.

A dramatic goal from the Mayhem’s Anthony Booth with just 2 seconds left to play rounded off the scoring for the game and the home side were able to celebrate a hard fought 6—3 victory.

The Mayhem now have a few weeks’ break while the other teams in the league finish off their outstanding fixtures.  The top 4 teams in the final table will qualify for the end of season playoffs which will be held at the Planet Ice rink in Widnes over the weekend of 10th and 11th September.

Monday 11 July 2022

Sledge Hockey: Mayhem V Steelstings At Widnes This Saturday

The Mayhem sledge hockey team play their last game of the regular season when they take on the Sheffield Steelstings this Saturday 16th July at Planet Ice Widnes – 4pm face off 

The Widnes-based team are on a roll at the moment having won their last two games – 0-10 away to the Steelstings and then 1-7 away to the Peterborough Phantoms last weekend so will be keen to sign off with a flourish .

The British Para Ice Hockey League – to give its full and correct title – had to miss the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the Covid  pandemic and various lockdowns but it is back this year with a 5 team competition playing home and away fixtures over the summer months.

The Mayhem team includes a number of GB international players - as well as Canadian Peggy Assinck  who is a GB coach, and head of the new GB Women’s Para Ice Hockey programme, while also playing for her native country.

The Mayhem are currently 3rd in the British Para Ice Hockey League table just ahead of the Steelstings who are in 4th place.  The pairings for the end of season play offs are decided by final league positions so every game is crucial at this stage of the season.

The game on Saturday at Widnes faces off at 4.00pm and admission is free for all spectators.

Saturday 2 July 2022

British Para Ice Hockey - Match Report: Mayhem 0 - Cardiff Huskies 13

Mayhem's Peggy Assinck (Photo by Blindside Trading Cards)

Sunday 26th June:  Mayhem 0 – Cardiff Huskies 13 

British League sledge hockey returned to Planet Ice Widnes on Sunday after a two year break caused by the Covid pandemic but it was a day to forget for the local Mayhem team as they lost out 0-13 to league leaders Cardiff Huskies. 

Cardiff took the lead in the 7th minute and then went 0-2 up with just 33 seconds left to play in the first period.   A massive 7 goals in the second period – including two within 16 seconds of each other – put the visitors well in front and, despite increased Mayhem possession as the game went on, they found it difficult to penetrate the well organised Huskies defence.

The Mayhem’s chief playmaker, GB international Karl Nicholson, had to miss the game through suspension and, with Canadian national team player Peggy Assinck leaving the ice injured mid-way through the game, it was always going to be an uphill struggle for the home side.

Darren Pomfrett was given a stern test in the Mayhem goal and, had it not been for some superb saves, the score would have been much higher.

Four more goals for Cardiff in the third period gave them a resounding victory and sees them pull further ahead at the top of the league table with 5 wins from 5 games.

The Mayhem have two away games coming up in a row  – away to Sheffield Steelstings on 2nd July and then at Peterborough Phantoms on 9th July – before their next home game against the Steelstings on Saturday 16th July at Planet Ice Widnes. 

Monday 20 June 2022

Sledge Hockey Back At Widnes This Sunday

The Mayhem team after their recent away game in Cardiff (Photo by Haganova Photography)

British League sledge hockey returns to Widnes this Sunday 26th June after a long break as the Mayhem team take on the Cardiff Huskies at Planet Ice Widnes, 4.15pm face off.

The British Para Ice Hockey League – to give its full and correct title – had to miss the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the Covid  pandemic and various lockdowns but it is back this year with a 5 team competition playing home and away fixtures over the summer months.

The Mayhem team train at Widnes on a Thursday evening and split their home matches between the Merseyside venue and Altrincham.  In the two home games they have played to date this season  – both at Altrincham - they lost 0-8 to the Sheffield Steelkings and then beat Peterborough Phantoms 14-2. They have played two away games so far this season, losing 3-2 away to the Steelkings and 5-2 to Cardiff.

The Mayhem team includes a number of GB international players - as well as Canadian Peggy Assink  who is a GB coach, and head of the new GB Women’s Para Ice Hockey programme, while also playing for her native country.

Cardiff won the end of season play off trophy on their only previous visit to Widnes back in September 2018 and they have a very strong team again this year.  They are currently top of the league with 4 wins from 4 games and they beat the Sheffield 2nd team, the Steelstings, 17-0 at the weekend.

The game on Sunday at Widnes faces off at 4.15pm and admission is free for all spectators.

Monday 6 June 2022

Women's Trophy Weekend At Widnes

The Guildford Lightning team celebrate winning the Women’s Elite League play off final (Photo by Flyfifer Photography)

Widnes staged another top level ice hockey event at the weekend with the Women’s Trophy Weekend being played at the Planet Ice rink.

An incredible 10 games played over the two days saw many of the country’s top women players meet in the semi finals of the Women’s Elite League (WEL), Women’s Premier League (WPL) and English Division 1 (D1) on Saturday, with 4 finals on Sunday.

In the Women’s Elite League semi finals, runaway league champions Solihull Vixen surprisingly lost 4-6 to Guildford Lightning - the only time they have lost to them in 5 meetings this season - while 4th place  finishers Streatham Storm beat league runners up Queen Bees 2-1. This meant, unusually, that neither of the WEL’s top teams of recent seasons would appear in the play off final this year. 

In the Women’s Premier League semi finals, league champions Bristol Huskies – who had gone through the regular season unbeaten in all 16 games - beat Kingston Diamonds 3-0 and Sheffield Shadows beat the Firebees 4-1. 

In the North v South Division 1 semi-finals, D1 North champions Whitley lost 3-5 to D1 South runners up Streatham and Solway Sharks Ladies lost 2-8 to S1 champions Swindon Topcats to set up an all-south final.

Sunday saw 4 back-to-back finals. In the Elite League decider, Guildford Lightning won their first ever WEL title with a 5-2 victory over Streatham Storm, while the WPL final saw Bristol Huskies make it a league and play-off  double with a 7-3 win over Sheffield Shadows.

In the all-south Division 1 final, the Swindon Topcats beat Streatham 7-0 to secure the play off crown to go with their league title.  They also win promotion to the Women’s Premier League for next season, depending on any league restructuring.

The Under 16 girls national play off saw southern champions Haringey-based London Capitals beat north winners Kingston Diamonds 2-1.

Thursday 2 June 2022

Women's Play Off Weekend At Widnes

GB women’s internationals Katie Henry and Sarah Hutchinson will be playing with Women’s Elite League champions Solihull Vixens in the Play Off weekend at Widnes (Photo by Rob Hutchinson)

The Planet Ice rink in Widnes stages another top level ice hockey event this weekend as the Women’sTrophy Weekend comes to town this Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th June.

An incredible 10 games over the two days will see some of the country’s top women players meet in the semi finals of the Women’s Elite League (WEL), Women’s Premier League (WPL) and English Division 1 (D1) on the Saturday, with 4 finals – including the North v South Under 16 championship game – being played on the Sunday.

The full schedule for the Women’s Trophy Weekend 2022 is:

Saturday 4th June

D1 SF 1- Whitley v Streatham Storm (11.15am)

WPL SF1 - Bristol Huskies v Kingston Diamonds (1pm)

WEL SF 1 - Solihull Vixens v Guildford Lightning (2.45pm)

D1 SF 2- Solway Sharks v Swindon Topcats. (5pm)

WPL SF2 - Sheffield Shadows v Firebees (6.45pm)

WEL SF 2 - Queen Bees v Streatham Storm (8.30pm)

Sunday 5th June

Division One Final (1.15pm)

Premier League Final (3.30pm)

Under 16 National Final (5.45pm)

Elite League Final (7.30pm)

Admission is FREE for all spectators across the weekend to watch the best women’s club hockey in the country and see many of the Great Britain players who won their World Championship division earlier this season. The trophy from GB’s win in Jaca, Spain, will be on display and fans will be able to take their picture with the silverware.

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Laidler Play Off Weekend At Planet Ice Widnes

The Laidler Division (North 2) Play Offs took place at the Planet Ice Rink in Widnes over the Easter  Weekend.  This was the third time that the venue had hosted the event – although this time it was acting as a completely neutral venue as the Wild team are now playing in a different division.

The two semi-finals on the Saturday saw league champions Telford Tigers 2 take on Sheffield Titans in the first game and league runners up Hull Jets face Sutton Sting in the later match.

Both games went to league form with Telford comfortably beating 4th place finishers Sheffield 8-4 in their semi, whereas Hull had a more difficult job but eventually managed to see off the Sting in a narrow 3-2 victory. 

In the final on Sunday Hull beat Telford 2-1 to add the Play Off title to the league crown that they won 2 years ago before the Covid lockdown kicked in.

Jets import Boris Giba gave Hull a narrow 1-0 lead in the first period and Kieran Robinson doubled the advantage midway through the second.

Telford’s Oliver Hunt pulled a goal back on 54 minutes but the Humbersiders held on to take the win.

The Planet Ice Rink in Widnes will also be hosting the Womens Play Offs over the weekend of 4th & 5th June.  This will feature a fascinating 10 games over two days including the semi-finals and finals of the Women’s Elite League, Women’s Premier League and National Division 1 and the Under 16 national final.

The participating teams have not yet been decided as the Women’s season does not finish until the end of May.  

(Photo by Lauren Rankin Photography)

Saturday 22 January 2022

New Book: “Ice Hockey In Solihull” by Stuart Latham

Well, he has done it again! Another look back at the fascinating  turbulent history of British ice hockey - this time casting a light on the various clubs that have played at Solihull over the years.

To order your copy, drop Stuart a line to:

I actually have a lot of personal Solihull Barons related memories although most of them have come from supporting the opposition team and, as such, I didn’t think they were relevant for contributing  to Stuart’s book. But they are certainly worthy of a mention here.

More recent adherents to British ice hockey might not be aware but the Solihull Barons were one of the top teams in the country in the late 1980s playing for 5 seasons in the Heineken League Premier Division and regularly reaching the latter stages of the Autumn Cup and play off competitions.  

And, unlike the modern landscape of the sport where basically any new team with enough money can decide which league they want to play in, the Barons did it the hard way and worked their way up the leagues, starting in Division 2 – which is where I come in.

According to “Wikimaps” , it is 82 miles from Peterborough to Solihull and, back in the 1980s, the roads weren’t very good across country so it used to take quite a long time to get there.  Even so, due to most of the other opposition teams at the time being in Scotland or the North East or on the South Coast, Peterborough v Solihull was classed as a “local derby” and a huge rivalry was built up on both sides.

The Pirates started up in 1982 and were placed in British League Division 2 along with the Barons. Both teams had bigger budgets than the other sides and both had impressive imported players so they were the top teams in that first season, with the Barons finishing top of the table and the Pirates second. 

The league was restructured under the Heineken sponsorship for the following 1983/84 season and, with both the Barons and Pirates being  placed in the new Heineken League Division 1, that fierce rivalry continued to flourish. 

If my memory serves me well, the first time I saw a Solihull team play was probably against Cambridge University - who used to play their home games at the Peterborough rink - and this would have been a Division 3 encounter with the Barons’ second team, the Solihull Buffaloes, during the 1982/83 season.

I also saw a few Peterborough Ravens women’s games around that time and their main rivals at the time were the Solihull Vixens, so I may well have seen them play too, but my recall – almost 40 years later - is a bit vague on that.

Anyway, I am fairly sure that the first time I saw the Solihull Barons was the Autumn Cup defeat in November 1983 which was the first season that I decided to watch all the Pirates home games and become a full time fan. 

The Pirates lost that one 4-7 at home and, having also lost the away game in the cup as well, this set up a real grudge encounter for the league games that were to follow, with both the Pirates and Barons in contention for the Division 1 title along with Southampton Vikings who would eventually go on to finish top of the table.

One particular Solihull occurrence that is etched in my memory is the home league game on 8th January 1984 which was the scene of the infamous “Barry Skrudland incident”. 

The Pirates lost the game 6-8 but the main talking point was when, early in the game, the Barons’ import Skrudland, older – and, presumably, less talented - brother of long term NHL player and Stanley Cup winner Brian Skrudland, injured Peterborough’s Rob Carnegie with a vicious check to the head which left a huge pool of blood on the ice and the big defenceman being rushed to hospital needing facial stitches.

After a long delay for the ice to be cleaned up and discipline to be handed out,  Skrudland was ejected from the game and marked his departure by throwing all the spare sticks onto the ice – and a couple of curling stones as well. 

This wouldn’t happen these days, what with strenuous safety measures put in place to combat concussion injuries – not to mention incredibly long waiting times in A&E – but Carnegie rushed back from the hospital all patched and was able to rejoin the game, picking up the Man of the Match award for his troubles.   

(As a matter of fact there is brief footage from this game on YouTube – you can see it here:  I can actually be seen in the crowd at 0.35.  It’s not very clear but I know where I used to sit at the time...)

Skrudland picked up a long ban from the BIHA as a result of the incident and never played in this country again. That helped to fuel the animosity between the two teams and a comprehensive Pirates win away in Solihull on 19th February (4-11, I was there!) did little to dampen any flames.

The following season (84/85) the Barons and the Pirates were both battling for honours in Division 1 again and the rivalry was just as intense.  The Pirates won away in Solihull just before Christmas 13-6 and that set up a huge return encounter in Peterborough at the end of February. If the Pirates were to win that game, they’d pretty much sew up the league title.

It is almost impossible to put into words how BIG that match was but even now, 38 years later, the thought of it makes my skin tingle and I come over all nostalgic and emotional.  There was so much interest and anticipation that, in order to be able to get a ticket , you had to go to the Pirates v Glasgow  Dynamos game the week before – played on a less popular Saturday night – to get a voucher to be able to attend.

On the day of the game, there was the hugest crowd I had ever seen queuing around the rink to get in. The hundreds of visiting Solihull fans arrived in coach after coach after coach and were let in through a separate entrance around the back to avoid further crowd congestion.

Inside the rink I ended up standing against the wall on top of an overturned crate in the corner by the vending machine  next to the exit towards the bar stairs along with my then girlfriend , my friend from school Alan Platt and Robin Colton.

The game had everything you could hope for in a big occasion – drama, excitement, goals.

ITV’s Gary Newbon was on the bench with the Barons and they had “Dancing Dean” Vogelsgesang doing his ridiculously over the top goal celebration routines.

Unfortunately for us, there were too many Dancing Dean moments and not enough Pirates celebration moments as the Barons won the game 7-10.

Here again, there is some video footage from this game (lovingly restored) on YouTube so you can see the size of the crowd, how great the atmosphere was, and a bit of what happened -

The video includes great views of Shannon Hope in his first season of British ice hockey (he’s wearing #2 for the Pirates) and also the late Micky Curry refereeing.

That result left the two teams neck and neck in the title race but the wheels came off the Solihull challenge when they lost a bad tempered game away to Blackpool Seagulls – and Glenn Skidmore apparently did a “Slapshot-esque” striptease on the ice after having been ejected from the game.

The same night, the Pirates won 26-2 away to Grimsby Buffaloes and that win secured them the league title.  

The Barons and Pirates played in different divisions for two seasons but the rivalry continued through cup games and challenge matches.  They met up regularly again in the Premier Division but over time Peterborough became the better team and in 1991, the Barons suffered severe financial troubles and were forced to drop out of British ice hockey’s top division.

One more date in the Pirates v Barons rivalry sticks out in my mind and it’s a game that I didn’t actually go to.  It was Tuesday 12th March 1991 and the Pirates had already qualified for the end of season play offs for the first time ever. The date clashed with a football match for Peterborough United who were still in the chase for promotion after 12 years in the Division Four doldrums. With the ice hockey match having a later than usual start, due to it being midweek - and therefore a late finish,  all the way over in Bretton – I  decided to go to the football match instead which I could walk to easily.

Unfortunately, the football ended up in a rather disappointing 2-2 draw with Darlington whereas the Pirates game finished with the most incredible 17-2 win after the Baron’s “bad boy” of the season Brent Sapergia had caused all sorts of trouble and got himself  thrown out of the game.

So there you go.  A lot has changed in British ice hockey over the years – not all for the good, but don’t get me started on that! 

The Peterborough Phantoms now rule the rink at Mallard Road but they have been in a different division to the Solihull Barons for a long time now so, if the rivalry still exists, I doubt that it is anything like as intense as it used to be. It has probably been replaced by other teams that they play more regularly against.

So, if you have managed to read this far and have found a few things to be of interest, then you will definitely enjoy reading Stuart Latham’s new 282 page book Ice Hockey In Solihull.  He doesn’t waffle on anywhere near as much as I do and the book is filled with fascinating facts, statistics, league tables, results lists and great photos.

There are also interviews and articles featuring former players such as Steve Chartrand, Phil Lee and Robert Eley and the book also looks at the Solihull Vixens women’s team, the Solihull Knights, the Buffaloes, the Kings and the Blaze.

To order your copy, contact Stuart at: