Pirates Return After Lengthy Absence

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The Paisley Pirates return to the Braehead Arena for the first time in eight weeks, as they get set to take on the Dundee Tigers in SNL action on Saturday 11th December.

It has been a difficult away period for the club, with the players only getting back on the ice this week.

The Pirates have been without a game for five weeks now, with the players making use of the ProLife Fitness Suite in Paisley to keep themselves ticking over in preparation for Saturday’s match, courtesy of conditioning classes provided by one of their main sponsors.

Since the Pirates last match, a 3-3 draw with the Aberdeen Linx on Guy Fawkes night, the Dundee Tigers have overtaken the Pirates at the top of the Scottish National League, having taken full advantage of their extra time on the ice.

You would initially think that a coach would be somewhat troubled if their team had just been leapfrogged at the top of the table, but Pirates coach Ian Turley however welcomes the challenge presented by the Tigers new status as league leaders;

“Sometimes it’s easier to be in the chasing pack rather than have the pressure of being top dog, when everybody’s after you and looking to bring you down, so it’ll give a new dimension to the league title race, with them looking over their shoulder all the time.”

Turley is also in absolutely no doubt over the threat that Dundee pose to his side;

“We’ve got a difficult game to come back to, in that the Dundee Tigers are nobody’s mugs and they have been playing while we haven’t. They’ve clocked up some good results this season, and will be keen to stop us in our tracks as we try to get back to winning our games and keeping the pressure at the top of the table, while they’ll be looking to cement their aspirations for a top four place at least.”

To mark their return to home ice after an eight week absence, the Paisley Pirates will also have a lot of first time spectators in attendance, as part of their special groups deal which apply this weekend and next.

That’s not all though, as the club are also supporting the special collection of foodstuffs, organised by the Supporters Club, being made to assist both the Trussell Trust and Renfrewshire Foodbank.

“We’ll be back with a bang, we hope,” adds Turley.

“With a bigger than usual crowd, given we’ve been away for nearly two months, we’re hoping that they’ll get right behind us with plenty of encouragement, which can make all the difference when guys are going out with tired legs towards the end of a tight match.

“We’ve got no worries that our faithful fans will be delighted to welcome us back onto the ice after such a long break, even if a few might have to use Sat Nav after such a long break to remember how to get to the rink, so we’ve no worries that we’ll have backing in numbers.”

Despite his teams lengthy absence from the ice, Turley was defiant in light of recent disruptions, and called for the home support to help see the team through what will be a tough task come Saturday;

“We have the best of facilities at Braehead Arena, but sometimes it can be difficult for other reasons, such as non-availability when you’re on a run of good performances, like it’s been recently. That’s when a loud support comes into its own, and the Pirates fans can certainly help the players in that respect – this is a good example of the sort of adversity that will face us over the course of a season, issues which we have to overcome to win things, so we will be going for it on Sunday night, never fear!”

The Best of British in the NHL

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As of 2016, there are currently no British born ice hockey players plying their trade in the world’s most prestigious ice hockey league, the NHL. However, take a look through the league’s illustrious record books, and they will indeed show you that a grand total of 51 British born players have played in the history of the league, each with varying degrees of success.

Of these players, 21 were indeed born in Scotland, with three hailing from Wales, five from Northern Ireland, and 22 from England respectively.

Two of these 51 players have managed to appear in over 1,000 NHL games, while others were Stanley Cup winners and All-Stars. One of them is even in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and two have played in more than 100 postseason contests.

In this post, I will be narrowing 51 down to 10, as I list the 10 greatest ever British ice hockey players to play in the NHL:

10. Jim Conacher

Motherwell born, Jim Conacher played centre ice in the NHL from 1945 to 1953 with the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and New York Rangers. He recorded 202 points in 328 regular-season games, scoring 85 goals and adding a further 117 assists. Conacher was an accomplished scorer during the first several seasons of his career, with campaigns of 16, 17, 26, and 25 goals. His best season consisted of 49 points in 59 games in 1948-49, which he split between Detroit and Chicago after being traded to the Windy City four games into the season. Conacher added seven points in 19 playoff games.

9. Adam Brown

Forward Adam Brown hailed from Johnstone, Scotland, and played on the left wing for the Detroit Red Wings, Chicago Blackhawks, and Boston Bruins between 1941 and 1952. Brown appeared in 391 regular-season contests and contributed 217 points with 104 goals and 113 assists, while also serving 378 minutes in penalties. He also chipped in with six points in 26 postseason outings. Brown, who was known as ‘The Flying Scotsman,’ helped the Red Wings capture the Stanley Cup in 1942-43 and also assisted Gordie Howe’s first NHL goal. Brown was just 5-feet-9-inches tall, but was as tough as they got. His son, Andy Brown, later played in 62 NHL games as a goaltender. Brown had seasons of 24, 20, and 19 goals, but passed away in 1960 at the age of 40.

8. Peter Lee

Right-winger Peter Lee of Ellesmere, England, was drafted 12th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1976 after scoring more than 400 points with the Ottawa 67’s, including a 161-point campaign in his final year as a junior. He scored at about a point-per-game average in the AHL for a year and a half, and then made his NHL debut with Pittsburgh in 1977-78. He scored just 18 points in 60 games as a 22-year-old rookie, but made a breakthrough the next season with 32 goals and 26 assists in 80 appearances. His best season brought 30 goals and 34 assists two years later. Lee played 431 regular-season games with the Penguins, and chipped in with 245 points on 114 goals and 131 assists, as well as adding eight points in 19 playoff contests. After six years in the NHL, Lee left for Germany where he scored at over a point-per-game for 12 more seasons.

7. Byron Dafoe

Byron Dafoe of Worthing, England, was an NHL goaltender with the Washington Capitals, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, and the Atlanta Thrashers between 1992 and 2004. He was taken 35th overall by Washington in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, after playing out west as a junior with Portland and Prince Albert. Dafoe appeared in 415 regular-season NHL games, and posted a record of 171-170-56 with a goals-against average of 2.69 and a save percentage of .904 along with 26 shutouts. He posted a 1.99 GAA in 1998-99 with Boston and led the league with 10 shutouts, making it to the Second All Star Team. Dafoe earned votes for several trophies during his career including the Calder, Hart, and Vezina.

6. Steve Smith

Steady defenceman Steve Smith was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and played 804 regular-season games with the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks and Calgary Flames between 1984 and 2001. Smith may have scored in his own net as an Oilers rookie in the seventh game of their 1985-86 playoff loss to the Calgary Flames, but he was rock solid on the blue line from that moment on. Smith was taken 111th overall in the 1981 draft by Edmonton, and contributed 72 goals and 303 assists for 375 points during his career with another 52 points in 134 playoff outings. He also helped the Oilers win three Stanley Cups. Smith represented his adopted homeland of Canada in the 1991 Canada Cup and served 2,139 minutes in penalties during his career.

5. Ken Hodge

 

Ken Hodge was known as one of the toughest wingers in the NHL from 1964 to 1978 when he played with the Chicago Blackhawks, Boston Bruins, and New York Rangers. Hodge hailed from Birmingham, England, and starred as a junior with the Saint Catharines Blackhawks, scoring a league-leading 63 goals and 60 assists in his final season. Hodge’s NHL career lasted 881 regular-season games, which saw him score 328 goals and 472 assists for 800 points, along with 779 minutes in penalties. He scored 87 power play markers and was a + 241 for his career. Hodge also scored 81 points in 97 playoff contests and helped the Big Bad Bruins win two Stanley Cups in 1969-70 and 1971-72. The bruising winger was also a part of the famous 1968 trade which saw himself, Phil Esposito, and Fred Stanfield leave Chicago for Boston.

4. Owen Nolan

Hard-nosed and high-scoring Owen Nolan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and patrolled the right wing from 1990 to 2010 with the likes of the Quebec Nordiques, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, and Minnesota Wild. Nolan was a first-overall draft pick by Quebec in 1990 from the Cornwall Royals. Nolan scored 423 goals and notched 463 assists for 885 points in his career. Nolan also chipped in with 40 points in 65 postseason contests. He was also a rough and tumble guy who served 1,793 minutes in penalties and was a feared fighter. The power forward represented his adopted Canada at several tournaments and won an Olympic gold medal in 2002.

3. Tom Anderson

Edinburgh, Scotland, was the birthplace of left-winger/defencemen Tom Anderson,, who skated in the NHL between 1934 and 1942. Anderson played 319 regular-season contests with the Detroit Red Wings, the New York Americans, and the Brooklyn Americans. He racked up 62 goals and 127 assists for 189 points, while adding seven points in 16 playoff encounters. Anderson’s best NHL season was his last in 1937-38 with Brooklyn, when he recorded 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points in 48 games. His 41 points set a record at the time for an NHL defencemen. Anderson also hit double digits in goals on three other occasions, and won the Hart Trophy for his record-setting season as the NHL’s most valuable player. Anderson was the first player on a non-playoff team to capture the Hart, but he’s just one of three winners of the trophy not to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The other two are Eric Lindros and Al Rollins.

2. Charlie Gardiner

Charlie Gardiner was one of the NHL’s top goaltenders between 1927 and 1934. The native of Edinburgh, Scotland, spent his entire career with the Chicago Blackhawks and won the Vezina Trophy in 1931-32 and again in 1933-34. In addition, he was named in the First All-Star Team three times and the Second Team once. Gardiner appeared in 316 regular-season outings while posting a record of 112-152-52. However, his goals-against average was a stellar 2.02, and he posted 42 shutouts. He went 12-6 in the playoffs with a 1.43 goals-against average and had another five shutouts, helping Chicago win the Stanley Cup in his final season in 1933-34. Gardiner is the only goalie to captain a Stanley Cup-winning squad and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.

1. Steve Thomas

Winger Steve Thomas of Stockport, England, was the most successful British NHL player when it comes to games played and points. Thomas ended up being one of the league’s best-ever undrafted players after breaking into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1984-85. He was a 50-goal scorer as a junior with the Toronto Marlboros, and then racked up a 42-goal, 48-assist season in his first pro year in the AHL. Thomas ended up playing 1,235 regular-season NHL games with the Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Might Ducks of Anaheim, and Detroit Red Wings, scoring 421 goals and 512 assists for 933 points. He had 106 power play goals and 78 game winners, and added 107 points in 174 playoff games. Thomas was small, but could more than take care of himself, and possessed one of the best shots and fastest sets of wheels in the league until retiring in 2004.

In recent years, the popularity of ice hockey in Britain has soared. The game has grown and developed at a rapid rate, drawing in fans new and old with its family friendly atmosphere and blistering, non-stop action. By doing so, more and more young people getting involved in the sport, and at this rate, it may not be long until British players are gracing NHL ice rinks once again.

Elite League Hockey Returns to Freeview TV

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The Elite Ice Hockey League has today announced a new weekly highlights show, which is to be shown on free to air television.

The highlights show, ‘Facing Off’, which launches on Thursday night, will be readily available to million of homes across the UK and Northern Ireland through Freeview, FreeSat, BT and Sky, on new sports channel Front Runner.

The one hour show will feature all 10 Elite League teams, with the best of the action from the matches across, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The programme will be shown at 6pm on Thursdays, 10pm on Fridays and 9am on Saturdays.

Elite League director Neil Black is delighted to have ice hockey back on free-to-air television:

“I think it is very important because we have been off the screens so far this season and we have been pretty invisible the last few years on free-to-air TV.

“Front Runner are new and enthusiastic and want to progress things themselves. I think it is good for us to be working with somebody, who is very keen on making this a much better product and working very hard on attracting new viewers to their channels.”

Ryan Scarratt, of Front Runner, said:

“Ice hockey is a new sport for Front Runner and we’re excited to be offering these action-packed games exclusively for free to our viewers.

“We feel that there are sports out there that deserve more television air time, and the Elite Ice Hockey League is among them. These matches are certainly intense and nail-biting, so be sure to tune into Facing Off.”

The programme will be made by production company Televideo, which has had a long relationship with ice hockey having previously made shows for Sky Sports. Paul Scivill, Managing Director of Televideo said:

“We are delighted to be working with the Elite League again and with a new channel in Front Runner.

“Ice hockey is a great sport and we are looking forward to making a programme which will appeal to fans, both new and old.”

Front Runner broadcasts on a number of platforms and is available on Sky channel 468, Freesat channel 250, Freeview channel 91 and BT channel 91.

Charity Starts at #Homecoming for Clan

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The Braehead Clan were on home ice for the first time in five weeks when they faced off against the Dundee Stars on Saturday, and they marked the occasion in style with a big #Homecoming event, all in the name of charity.

In conjunction with kit manufacturer Warrior, the Clan donned jerseys inspired by club mascot Clangus – a highland cow. The limited edition jerseys, short shells and socks weren’t just designed to pay homage to Clangus though, and were specially commissioned to help raise money for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

After the game, a charity auction was held for the highland cow kits, where Clan fans managed to raise more than £4000 – with every penny going to charity. Players were also in attendance during the auction on-ice auction, and winning bidders had the opportunity to have their photograph taken with the player whose shirt they won.

In addition to the charity auction, Saturday’s match also saw the Clan’s annual ‘Air the Bear’ event take place. The popular event encourages Clan fans to bring teddy bears with them to the game, which are then thrown on to the ice rink from the stands to celebrate the first Clan goal of the night.

The ‘aired’ teddies are then collected by the rink staff, and are given to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital, when the players’ themselves visit the sick children in the proceeding weeks before Christmas. Around 1,500 soft toys took to the ice.

Braehead Clan’s Hockey and Operations Director, Gareth Chalmers, was absolutely delighted with the success of the charity events;

“A huge thanks has to go to Warrior for their support in making this happen, the players in supporting the idea and most importantly the Purple Army, who helped us raise over £4,000 for the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

“When talking to the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity about our partnership in the summer, we decided we’d come up with a jersey design that was different and very quirky.

“Everyone loves Clangus, so it was agreed to commission a Clangus/Highland Cow design in support of the charity, but also to celebrate our popular Teddy Toss event.

“As we expected the design got a very mixed reaction, some people loved it and some people hated it.

“However, more importantly, it was about raising money for a very worthwhile cause while also having a bit of fun with the club and the charity, and I believe we achieved that. It was a superb effort.”

While Braehead Clan’s homecoming match didn’t quite go to plan with a 6-3 Elite League loss to the Dundee Stars, the real winners of the night were the Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity.

Video: Robert Henderson Interview

To give his views on the progress of ice hockey in Scotland before a training session, I speak to a veteran of the sport, in former Paisley Pirates Defenceman Robert Henderson. Henderson shares his views on a number of subjects, including rising attendances, exposure, getting young people involved, and discusses what ice hockey has to offer that other sports don’t:

 

Dundee’s Fine Home Form Continues

Competition: Elite League. Date: November 18, 2016. Match: Dundee Stars 5 Coventry Blaze 1. Venue: Dundee Ice Arena.

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Match Report:

An impressive 5-1 victory over Coventry Blaze on Friday night saw the Dundee Stars continue their formidable run of home form at the Dundee Ice Arena.

It took just 71 seconds for Justin Faryna to open the scoring and give the Stars an early lead, as Kevin Hart made it 2-0 in the second period. Hart is also in fine form himself, having now scored four goals in as many games.

With Dundee firmly in control of the match, they displayed their dominance with a further three goals in the final period of the game. Scott Brannon, Félix-Antoine Poulin and Vinny Scarsella all scored within the space of seven minutes to put the result of the game beyond all doubt.

Ross Venus converted a late consolation penalty shot for Blaze, but the points were well deserved for Dundee, which took them above Coventry in the Elite League table.

Attendance: 950.

First Shutout for Clemente as Manchester Climb

Competition: Elite League. November 20, 2016. Match: Manchester Storm 3 Fife Flyers 0. Venue: Altrincham Ice Arena.

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Match Report:

Manchester Storm goaltender Mike Clemente earned his first Elite League shutout, as Manchester climbed to fifth in the table following a 3-0 home victory against Fife at the Storm Shelter on Sunday evening.

The only goal of the first period came courtesy of Connor Varley, who beat Flyers’ goaltender Shane Owen in the thirteenth minute thanks to a Mario Varley-Trabucco assist.

Leading by example, player-coach Omar Pacha doubled Storm’s advantage seven-and-a-half minutes into the second frame, with Varley-Trabucco then scoring his second goal of the night.

Having assisted Varley-Trabucco’s second goal, Darian Dziurzynski completed the victory with a goal of his own just under two minutes from time, firing the puck into an empty net as Fife attempted to find a way back into the game with an extra skater.

The result leaves Fife 4th in the Elite League, only three points ahead of Manchester in 5th. Fife’s next Elite League game sees them host 8th place Braehead Clan on Saturday 26th November.

Attendance: 1,048.

MacDougall Hat-Trick Inspires Edinburgh

Competition: Elite League. Date: November 20, 2016. Match: Edinburgh Capitals 8 Coventry Blaze 2. Venue: Murrayfield Ice Rink.

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Match Report:

Edinburgh secured a convincing 8-2 Elite League victory against Coventry at Murrayfield on Sunday evening thanks to a Taylor MacDougall hat-trick.

MacDougall opened the scoring and his own account after six-and-a-half minutes, before Great Britain Under-20 international Tyler Plews doubled Edinburgh’s advantage three minutes later to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.

Coventry captain Jordan Pietrus’ power play goal got Blaze on the board in the 29th minute, but MacDougall’s second goal of the game restored Edinburgh’s two-goal lead less than two minutes later.

Edinburgh then went on to further extend their lead before the second break, with MacDougall turning from goalscorer to provider to set-up Matt Tipoff to score a short handed marker. Yevgeni Fyodorov then converted with the man advantage, after Blaze’s Ashley Tait had been penalized with a two minute penalty for slashing.

Jared Staal beat Coventry goaltender Brian Stewart with less than five minutes remaining in the final frame as the goals continued to flow, before MacDougall completed his hat-trick. New Coventry signing Barry Almeida scored his first Blaze goal before the end, but Staal’s second of the night ensured a six-goal margin of victory for the Capitals.

The result leaves Coventry bottom of the Elite League table with 11 points. Edinburgh meanwhile sit in 9th place, also with 11 points, but with three games in-hand over Coventry.

Attendance: 657.

League Leaders Cardiff Edge Braehead

Competition: Elite League. Date: November 20, 2016. Match: Cardiff Devils 4 Braehead Clan 3. Venue: Cardiff Arena.

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Match Report:

Elite League leaders Cardiff rounded-off a successful four-point weekend with a narrow 4-3 victory over rivals Braehead Clan at Cardiff Arena on Sunday evening.

Mike Hammond gave the Braehead the lead after five minutes, but Guillaume Doucet’s equaliser ensured that the Devils went into the first intermission on level terms.

The visitors again took the lead six minutes into the second period, this time through Craig Peacock, but a resilient Cardiff again drew level, with Devils defenceman  Josh Batch beating Clan goaltender Gary Russell to leave the game tied at 2-2 after 40 minutes of play.

It took Doucet less than 90 seconds into the final frame to get his name on the scoresheet again, with his second of the night quickly followed up by Devils’ Joey Martin to make it 4-2.

A late Scott Pitt goal to make it 4-3 set up a nervy finish, albeit a brief one though, as Cardiff saw out the remaining seconds of the game to claim victory.

The defeat leaves the Braehead Clan sitting in 8th place in the Elite League, with their next League match coming against 9th place Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday 27th November at Murrayfield Ice Rink.

Attendance: 2,981.

An A-Z of Ice Hockey Terminology: Part 2 (N-Z)

Like with every other sport, there is a unique culture that surrounds Ice Hockey. Those who are involved in the sport, from the players to the fans, create a community that is as dedicated to their sport as any in the world.

As a result of this relationship, a unique corresponding ‘hockey slang’ has developed between players and fans to describe hockey-specific things and events that take place during a game.

In part two of this glossary of must-know ice hockey slang, you will find some of the most common terminology used in the sport, continuing from N to Z;

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N –

Neutral Zone Trap: A defensive strategy focused on preventing the opposing team from proceeding with the puck through the neutral zone (the area between both blue lines) and attempting to take the puck from the opposing team.

O –

Overtime: An extra session of play added on after the full regulation time has concluded in order to resolve a match. The team to score in overtime wins the game.

P –

Power Play: A power play occurs when one team has more players on the ice than the other team as a result of penalties assessed to the shorthanded team.

Q –

Quick Whistle: A stoppage in play that occasionally occurs when an on-ice official’s view of the puck is obstructed while the puck is obstructed while the puck is still moving or playable, but the official stops the play with a whistle. The official will whistle the play “dead” with the puck still visible to others.

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R –

Ragging The Puck: When a player keeps possession of the puck in order to waste time, usually by circling back towards their own goal and avoiding opponents.

S –

Slapshot: A slapshot is a hard shot, usually with a big wind up, wherein the player bends his stick on the ice and allows the energy stored in bending the stick to launch the stick forward.

T –

Top Shelf: The upper area of the goal, just below the crossbar  and above the goaltender’s shoulders.

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U –

Unnecessary Roughness: Also called ‘roughing’, this is a two minute (minor) penalty that is a judgement of the referee. An unnecessary or excessive use of force.

V –

Video Goal Judge: An off-ice official who reviews a goal by video instant replay.

W –

Wrist Shot: A shot that involves using arm muscles (especially those in the wrist and forearm) to propel a puck forward from the open-faced, concave part of the blade of a hockey stick.

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Z –

Zone: One of the three areas of the ice as divided by the blue lines. There are three zones; the attacking zone, the neutral zone and the defensive zone.