Wednesday 3 July 2024

Deeside Ducks Complete Coaching Staff For Debut Season

The Deeside Ducks have completed the coaching staff for their debut 2024/25 NIHL season.

Following the appointment of Gary Shaw as Head Coach and Peter Bleackley as Lead Coach, the club has announced that Simon Hughes and Stewart Cutting are joining the staff as Assistant Coaches.

Hughes is a former Deeside Demons, Dragons and Altrincham Aces player and currently a Deeside junior coach while Cutting previously played for Slough Jets and Swindon Wildcats in ENL South and currently plays for the Deeside based Connah’s Quay Cobras recreational side. 

Talking about his appointment, Cutting said:

“I am delighted to be asked to be an Assistant Coach for this exciting new team in Deeside. Having coached the junior club, it’s going to be rewarding to see these young talented players come through the system and transition into adult hockey”

The Team Manager for the new Ducks team will be Angela Wilkes, who also has along affiliation with the Deeside club and was the Manager for the Under 18 team last season. 

Wilkes said:  “After many months of planning, it is amazing to see this team come together.  I am excited to be working with a passionate team to build a solid foundation to secure the future of ice hockey at Deeside, giving local talent the pathways and opportunities to develop their game to Division 1 level and beyond. I am hoping to make our inaugural season once to remember.”

Introducing himself in his own words, Simon Hughes said:

“I was born and lived within a mile of the Deeside Ice Rink. Ice skating and hockey has been an interest since the rink opened in 1974. First as a figure skater, then hockey fan (Deeside Dragons) and player from 1984 to1995.

“I was a product of the Deeside Juniors, although it was nowhere near as well structured as it is nowadays. Then I progressed to senior hockey with the Deeside Demons and was flattered to be chosen to wear the C in the first home game of the newly formed team (1987).

“At 18 I was training with the Dragons and occasionally playing up (4th line if I was lucky). Practicing and icing with the Dragons veterans I had supported as a kid and legendary imports and coaches was a fantastic experience, finally making the squad for the Dragons in the British National League (Heineken) until the team sadly folded in the early 1990's.

“A few of us had the opportunity to play in Manchester for Altrincham Aces/Trafford Metros, which I did until 1992. Hockey has changed, it was certainly less skilful and more physical, than the modern game, however this was a part of the game I particularly enjoyed.

“After redundancy from my fulltime job, I returned to Deeside to work alongside Gary Shaw as assistant coach with the Demons. I later continued playing recreational hockey until a knee injury ended my playing days in 1995.

“I have remained a life-long hockey fan and enjoy following all aspects of the sport in the UK and internationally, including trips to North America to watch live NHL games.

"Following a 25+ year hiatus, I have returned to the ice as an assistant coach for the Deeside Dragons Junior Ice Hockey Club (DDJIHC). I have also started officiating as a Level 1 Referee for Ice Hockey UK (IHUK) 2023-24. I am really pleased to be working with the new Deeside Ducks as an assistant coach, helping young players progress and hopefully seeing future success of this new NIHL D2N setup.”

You can follow the progress of the new Deeside Ducks team as they prepare for their debut season in the NIHL Laidler Division on their Facebook page HERE