A competitive Cornwall River Kings? They just may surprise you

It’s felt like 40 degrees for the past couple weeks and doesn’t seem to stop for the foreseeable future. It’s time to start thinking winter and with winter comes hockey! In my temp neck of the woods of Cornwall, Ontario, that means it’s time the Cornwall River Kings to come gliding out onto the ice of the Ed Lumley Arena.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I haven’t written about them lately. I know most of you turned a blind eye to some of my articles when I was elaborating on issues and moves. (Hey, I spoke the truth and I was right.) However, it’s time to speak up once again.

Why haven’t I been writing about them?

Because they’re doing things right.

And it’s now, more then ever, that we need to praise them for it.

Now I can only talk about roster moves because I’ve been blocked from seeing things on facebook but for the first time in several seasons and maybe since the inaugural season, the River Kings are going to ice a competitive team. Overall, they’ve traded better, they’ve acquired better, they’ve drafted better and they’ve signed better. The brass has gone after guys with exceeding reputations. Likely the work of Bob Desjardins that I hope Rick Lalonde is exemplifying his valuable input.

Let’s take a look at some of the newcomers that are going to grace the bench of the very quite possible Big Red Machine of the Cornwall River Kings.

MARTIN LARIVIERE

Back in the beginning of June, the River Kings sent Maxime Vachon to the Thetford Assurancia in exchange for tough guy Martin Lariviere. Lariviere has spent his entire hockey career in Quebec having his Jr. A days with the Lachine Maroons and bouncing the around the old crazy Quebec senior league and the LNAH. It will be different to not show up to the arena in Thetford this season as spent the past 8 years with the squad.  However, it was here where he fine tuned his reputation as a pest and an agitator. While not a big lad, 5’9 on skates can be just as intimidating as 6’4. After leading the team in PIMs with 210 last season, you can look for the big man from Verdun to put up just as much.

 

OLIVIER CROTEAU AND JEREMY VIGNEAULT-BELANGER

QMJHL (LHJMQ) hockey profile photo on Prince Edward Island Rocket Olivier Croteau December 16, 2011 at the Colisee Pepsi in Quebec city.
Croteau

In the middle of June, the Kings acquired Croteau and Vigneault-Belanger from the Jonquiere Marquis for a draft pick. Heck of a deal I might add.

Croteau has a couple of really decent Jr. A seasons combined with experience from not only teams in the QMJHL (Gatineau Olympiques and PEI Rocket) but with Team Canada U-17 World Championships as well. At 6’2 and boasting a left handed shot that is much needed on the depth chart, Croteau will be a nice welcome to the younger guys on the squad and on the ice.

 

 

1160014-prolongation-jonquierois-jeremy-vigneault-belanger
Photo: Mariane L. Gelais

Another young kid that has QMJHL experience is Vigneault-Belanger. A season with the Quebec Ramparts was enough to cross over into the LNAH territory. Two years ago he put up 58 points in 38 games with St. Georges. Last year while bouncing between St. Georges and Jonquière, Vigeanaut-Belanger was almost a point a game player with 35 in 38 games. Given the right players to play with him, this kid could turn out to be something.

 

LOU DICKENSON

When Dickenson retired from pro hockey earlier this off-season I shook my head when the River Kings drafted him. (I still forget that the LNAH is semi-pro!) I knew how great of a player he is and was equally excited and disappointed at his retirement. After I finally realized my mistake, I jumped for joy and wondered how the hell the Kings pulled this off.

ag_HLh5lDickenson, who you may remember from CBC’s Making the Cut back in the early 2000s, has had a huge and lengthy pro career that has taken him almost everywhere. Well, at least all over Europe. He’s a scoring machine which is definitely needed badly for Cornwall. Even if those European clubs are sometimes a lesser calibre it is not a knock on Dickenson’s play. Those pictures out there with him in a gold helmet? That’s to showcase the top scorer on the team. Neat thing to have.

He played 13 games with Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia, crushed out 20 points in 13 games and took home the championship. Last season he spent it with the Dundee Stars of my beloved EIHL and went over a point a game. Another asset is he’s a big guy who can skate and can hold his own. He’s another left handed shot (told you they need them badly) and accustomed to the bigger ice. If Bob Desjardins can put a smart right winger who isn’t flashy and sticks to the little things on his line combined with the smaller ice, Dickenson will be scoring for days in this league.

 

JEFF LEGUE

Legue_Lifts_the_TrophyIf you’re a hockey fan that lives in Cornwall and don’t know who the hell Jeff Legue is then I’m sorry, you need to get out to the rink more. Legue, who has reached legendary status in Sheffield, England, had decided to retire from pro hockey and move back home to Cornwall with his family. It was obviously a no brainer that a conversation about playing for the River Kings was going to come up at some point. I’m not going to ramble about how much Legue’s hockey means to the city (and to the country of England) because like I said, if you don’t know then there’s a problem. But if you do want to brush up on his career, have a read at a sort of biography I did with him a couple yeas ago. You can check it out here:  Jeff Legue: Two Cities and the Sport of Hockey

I can truly say with all honesty that for the first time in a while it is an exciting time to be a Cornwall River Kings fan. They celebrate a milestone this season in turning 5. I hope we can look forward to different events and celebrations to mark this feat. Maybe there’s a 5th Anniversary patch in the works?  Who’d ever thought we’d last this long? Who knows.

What I do know is it’s only 3 more months until you can start chanting “Go Kings Go.”

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Jeff Legue: Two Cities and the sport of hockey

Cornwall_RoyalsOn the Ontario shores near the central part of the St. Lawrence River lies a city whose habitants ignite a passion for a cold and frosty game. As most Canadian cities do, this one has been breeding hockey players and fans for the better part of 100 years. The history of hockey runs deep in the hard working and blue collar city of Cornwall, Ontario. Many teams have come and gone; championship memories are few and far between but most residents can recall where they were when the Memorial Cup was raised on three separate occasions and which hometown boys have made names for themselves in the game.

After the demise of the major junior powerhouse Cornwall Royals in 1992, fans were left with a gaping hole in their hearts. Junior hockey had just started to become a major attraction across the country. Prayers were answered quickly however when across the river in nearby Massena, New York, the Junior A team of the Americans were sold over the Seaway International Bridge to Cornwall. Renamed the Colts, the new group quickly grew an intensive following even if it was step down in play from the Royals.

Small Canadian cities such as this always come with their own breed of hockey fan. This fan will not only know the life story of every player to ever step onto the hometown rinks, but every stat that comes flowing in.  It was no different when hometown boy Jeff Legue laced up his skates night after night and stepped out onto the ice at the Si Miller Arena. He felt like a superstar as fans would stop and ask him for autographs and kids would chant his name as they filled the old barn. “Growing up in a small town that has a successful hockey team is any young players dream,” recalls Legue fondly. “When I got the chance to play in front of a sold out Si Miller Arena, I fulfilled that young hockey players dream.” It wasn’t just his dream. Family, friends and fans alike knew how special it was to have a homegrown superstar stay on the city’s squad. “Both my friends and family got to watch me grow and progress as a player and to this day I believe that’s what helped me the most throughout my junior career.”

In the late 1990’s, the Cornwall Colts were nothing short of a wrecking crew. Finishing a top of the Robinson Division in the Canadian Junior A Hockey League, Legue and the Colts captured two Art Bogart Cups which sent the squad to the Fred Page Cup championships. During his second season with the Colts, the dominance continued as they won the Fred Page tournament and headed off to Nationals in Fort McMurray, BbFMg9oCAAAlZhJAlberta. Even though they went winless, Legue remains proud of the accomplishments. “That year stands out to me the most; we played as a team. We all had our own part in helping our team become successful.”

Successful they were. Legue lists off players who he recognises as the “unsung heroes” on the ice that year. Names like Lindsay Campbell, Ross McCain, Sylvain Moreau, Jarret Robertson and Tim Vokey are thrown about with smiles and fondness. The ultimate compliment however is reserved for someone who doesn’t need any introduction to Cornwall hockey circles, Coach Al Wagar. “Al believed in me,” says Legue with authority. “I was put in all situations at the beginning of my career which gave me lots of experience early.” Wagar coached the Colts for the better part of the decade and along with ownership played a pivotal role in the teams’ success. “He told me my job was to go out and create opportunities. He gave me freedom on the ice. Al Wagar was a great coach for me.”

Legue’s skills both on and off the ice started catching the eyes of NCAA recruiters. After looking over a few offers, the Bulldogs that belonged to Ferris State University became the perfect fit for Jeff to start his successful collegiate career. Located in Big Rapids, Michigan, the Ferris State Bulldogs skate out of the Robert L. Ewigleben Ice Arena; an arena that seats just about 2,500. Along with former Colts teammates Tim Vokey and Matt Verdone, Legue skated alongside current NHLer and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Chris Kunitz; no doubt learning as much as he could from such talented leadership. After contributing a point in each of his 152 collegiate games, it was time to turn professional. After a stint on two different teams in the East Coast Hockey League, Europe came calling. It was time to make some hockey ‘Anarchy in the U.K.’.

In the middle of the United Kingdom lies a city of just over 500,000 people. A hard working and blue collar steel town, the passion for sport runs deep in the city’s inhabitants. Football was a main stay for many in the city of Sheffield and with it came its own special breed of sporting fan. Still reeling from the loss of 96 passionate football fans that were crushed to death in the Hillsborough Stadium disaster two years earlier, a new sport was about to take over in the fall of 1991. Sheffield Arena (now known as Motorpoint Arena) had been built with much precision and its main resident became the Sheffield Steelers Ice Hockey Club. While hockey had been played in the UK for over a hundred years, it just never seemed to catch on. That was about to change.

Arguably the Sheffield Steelers had reached their peak in popularity during the mid-1990s. Partly due to the renaissance that the sport of ice hockey was having and partly due to the squad becoming the first real professional club of its kind in the UK; for all intents and purposes, money talked. You could watch most games from this era and you’d swear it was an NHL game just from the fans that filled the arena. The Steelers were crowned the last champions in 1996 of the Heineken sponsored British Hockey League before the premier of what was the British Ice Hockey Superleague.

(Photo: Dean Woolley)
(Photo: Dean Woolley)

By the time the modern day Elite Ice Hockey League came to fruition, the Steelers were one of the most decorated clubs in the United Kingdom; obviously a selling point for anyone willing to hop across the pond. Legue was offered a spot and made the trek to set up shop in Sheffield for the 2007-2008 season. Admittedly he didn’t know what he was getting himself into. “When I came to Sheffield I didn’t know what to expect because to be honest, I didn’t know there was hockey here in the UK.” The naivety was soon lost on Legue as he made his first strides on ice in front of the home crowd at Motorpoint Arena. “I soon realised that they are some of the most passionate fans imaginable.”

Legue spent his entire seven year Elite league career with the Sheffield Steelers; the city and the club made an important impression on him his first season. Half way through the campaign Legue got a phone call that no one wants to take while being the furthest away from his family. His father and ultimately one of his biggest fans had been diagnosed with stomach cancer. The organisation didn’t hesitate to send Legue back to Canada. “Sheffield became a big part of my life during that first year,” recalls Legue.  “I will always be thankful for how they treated me at that time.”

“My father told me to go back and finish season.” What a finish they had. The Steelers ended up winning the playoffs that year. “Captain Jonathan Phillips made it a point to hand me the trophy first.” With no doubt his father smiling down at him, Legue knew he made the right decision. “That was my most memorable moment as a Steeler.”

Of course, the people he met throughout the city of Sheffield and the success on the ice made it easy for Legue to come back year after year. Meeting his beautiful wife nearby and having his adorable son to raise made it the perfect ending to an illustrious Elite league career.

The game of hockey and the city of Sheffield just couldn’t get rid of him though.

(Payette (7) instructs his Legue (11) and his Steeldog squad)
(Payette (7) instructs his Legue (11) and his Steeldog squad. Photo: Roger Williams)

With the EIHL schedule being so demanding with his new family, Legue dropped down a tier to the English Premier Ice Hockey League and is now suiting up for the Steeldogs. Head manned by another Cornwall, Ontario native Andre Payette, Legue is humbled by the fact that there’s another one with him who knows the trials and tribulations of the city he’s from. “It’s always nice to have someone to back up your stories of the beautiful St. Lawrence River.”

Back on the Canadian side, the hockey doesn’t stop in his family at any point. Legue’s brother in law, Brennan Barker, is suiting up for the Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH. Known for its no holds barred fighting, does Legue have any advice? “Other than keep your head up?” he says with a laugh. “Brennan is a tough cookie and he can take care of himself.  I’ve seen his hands.  I wish him and his team all the best and good luck for the rest of the season.”

As Jeff Legue suits up for the Steeldogs, we can only speculate what’s in his future. Who knows, maybe we’ll see his son continue the tradition and end up back in Canada. The saga continues. For now, this remains how a tale of two cities, with an ocean that separates them for miles, became closer to each other with the power of sport.

 

I leave you with a video from the Cornwall River Kings from last year that some of you in the UK made not have seen.

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @MarchHockey 

One on One with former NHLer Steven Goertzen

(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)
(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)

Steven Goertzen has had a pretty impressive pro career. After a major junior run with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, the man from Alberta was drafted in the 7th round, 225th overall in the 2002 entry draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He spent time bouncing back and forth between Columbus and their AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Goertzen had a brief stint with the Phoenix Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes before heading overseas. After two seasons with M1 rival, the Sheffield Steelers, Goertzen has made the trek to Coventry to suit up for the Blaze for this coming season. March Hockey EIHL correspondent, Ed Kimberley caught up with Goertzen for a little chit chat.

By Ed Kimberley
Coventry, England
Ed Kimberley: How will you be spending your offseason?

Steven Goertzen: We spend our off season split between New York where my wife is originally from, and Edmonton, where I am originally from. Summers are usually very busy especially now that we have kids and everyone back home wants to make the most out of the short amount of time that we are back. I will be completing my dissertation as well this summer and I also run many different power skating camps around Edmonton. Needless to say, summers are pretty busy!

EK – I’d like to backtrack a few years to your days in the NHL, every kid growing up that plays hockey dreams one day they will make the show, can you describe how it felt?

SG – It’s obviously an amazing feeling and something that is difficult to describe. I think when you dedicate your life to something and you are fortunate enough to experience playing against guys that you idolized growing up it is extremely rewarding. I look back and I am just very thankful to be able to have those experiences and it is something I will never forget.

EK – What have you taken from your time in the biggest league in the world that is still in your playing style?

SG – Well I like to think that I am responsible on both ends of the ice. I take pride in doing a good job defensively and trying to play the game the right way. The biggest difference in the NHL is the players have an amazing ability to be consistent every night. I might not always have a great game but at the end of the day you want to prepare for each game to give yourself the best chance to be successful night in and night out.

EK – In the press release Coach Lefebvre said you and your agent contacted the Blaze, what attracted you to playing for Coventry?

SG – I have worked with Marc before and Ashley Tait as well, so it is always nice to know a few familiar faces when you come to a new team. I have heard a lot of good things about the organization from many different people so that was a big reason for coming here as well. I think that there is always a great atmosphere in the arena and hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to win some trophies.

(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)
(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)

EK – Marc made a big impact last year coming in mid-season having played for and against him tell us what kind of coach he is?

SG – Well when he was in Sheffield as the assistant coach he was in a different role, but as a head coach and in talking with him he is going to hold guys accountable. I think that Marc has a good feel for when to push guys and when not too which I think is extremely important in this league and I am sure he will get the best out of all his players.

EK – Would you say he’s building a team that matches his own personal attitudes of hard work and with a direct approach?

SG – Yes I am sure that he has been very busy and will continue to look to sign guys that are willing to come to play every night. It is obviously still early in the summer but I am sure Marc will do a great job putting our team together and steering us in the direction that we need to go.

EK – Having won the playoffs last year, can you describe what it takes to get there, what kind of team you need and how you think the Blaze are shaping up in comparison?

SG – There are obviously many challenges and ups and downs throughout a season and I think last year with Sheffield we were able to battle through some tough situations and stick together throughout the entire season. With the way that the playoff format is and the importance of every game you need to be playing your best leading up to the playoffs. I think that next year it will be important for us to trust the process and make sure everyone is on board and I think it will be an exciting year.

EK – Both Ryan O’Marra and yourself have spoke to former Blaze players who they’re friends with before signing…any chance you can help lure any of your former Columbus, Phoenix or Carolina team mates into coming over?

SG – Ha ha well I am sure that Ryan or I would not hesitate to put a few good words in here or there! Having said that, Marc knows what he is doing and I am sure he will put together a great team.

EK – Jokes aside, do you/expect to have much involvement in the recruitment process outside of giving references to players on the coach’s radar?

SG – I have been in contact with Marc and obviously if there is anything he would like me to do I would be more than willing to try and sway a guy to come and win with us if it would help.

(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)
(Photo: Trixie Larue, flickr)

EK – With the new rules regarding EU passport holder and dual nationals essentially allowing more imports to play in the league, how do you think this will change the EIHL?

SG – I am not sure to be honest, I know that it is an area of debate and it will be interesting to see how it plays out and I don’t pretend to be an expert on the matter. However, I think that in reality, there is a lot of quality British hockey players in this league and a lot of them make up the core of the teams that they are playing on. In my opinion I think that it would be a mistake for teams in the future if they were to undervalue what the British players bring to this league both on and off the ice.

EK – Do you have any words for blaze fans before we see you in September?

SG – I hope you guys enjoy your summer, and are looking forward to what looks to be an exciting season ahead!

One on One with Liam McCausland of Frozen Steel Blog

1524774_1443356489210314_1080098070_nRecently Liam McCausland of the unofficial Sheffield Steelers fan blog, Frozen Steel, and I had an interesting back and forth chat on everybody’s favourite subject. You can find my responses during the first part of our conversation on his blog here. The second part of our chat is as follows. Have a gander into the mind of Liam’s hockey filled brain.

March Hockey: Well let’s start with how you got into hockey.

Liam McCausland: Pre-teen insomnia. Around the age of 11/12, I barely ever slept, and Channel 5 (one of the basic channels we get free over here) showed a live NHL game once a week. I could never keep up with the puck but I loved what I saw. When it stopped showing it I kind of forgot about the game, but I started seeing a girl at university in 2008 who was a season ticket holder at the Steelers. She took me to an away game in Newcastle and I was hooked again.

MH: That was my second question, why the Steelers?

LM: Yeah, her influence. We stopped seeing each other but stayed in the same circles so I kept going to games. I don’t think I’ve been to more than 10 games in one season if that, but its under my skin and such a big part of my life now.

1662073_1485069311705698_1875499983_nMH: What do you think the Steelers need to do in order to repeat this year’s success?

LM: That’s pretty tricky, because up until the end of February we were talking about the team not being good enough. Enter Gerad Adams and we win the playoffs! I think we had the core of a good side that needed focussing and liberating. If we could keep most of that team together that would be half the battle. replace some offence we have lost in Lacroix and potentially Legue. A bit more team toughness too maybe. Oh, and a backup that the coach trusts, so Frank Doyle can have a rest.

MH:  Tricky question, what improvements do you think Team GB need to make?

LM: Oh god, so much. More time together pre-tournament would go a long way, a week together beforehand doesn’t seem enough. There’s calls for lowering the import limit, but then if the GB players aren’t up to task it might lead to a decline in attendances that owners wouldn’t go for. I’d say some investment from those able would go a long way, but Sport England don’t invest in things that don’t guarantee them medals either. I’d quite like to see a British Quota. Say so many of the team have to be british, say 1 nettie, 3 D, 5 forwards. make that a minimum. I’d started writing an article on it but I rambled for that long it sounded like a rant. Continue reading “One on One with Liam McCausland of Frozen Steel Blog”

Cornwall’s Jeff Legue makes Elite League milestone

Jeff Legue. (Photo: www.sheffield.steelers.co.uk)
Jeff Legue. (Photo: http://www.sheffield.steelers.co.uk)

What an illustrious career so far for Cornwall’s Jeff Legue. In his 7 seasons with the Sheffield Steelers of the Elite Ice Hockey League in the United Kingdom, Legue has become only the fifth player in Elite league history to reach 500 career points.

His time in Sheffield has made him a household name in the U.K. league. Legue’s assist on the game winning goal against Hull on Saturday night locked him into the league’s VIP. Sheffield fans flocked to Ice Sheffield to see their franchise player in action and on Sunday night they paid tribute to Legue in fine fashion. At the 11th minute, (a tribute to number Legue has worn since his Cornwall Colts days), the entire arena stood on it’s feet and gave him a one minute salute. Securing the win against Fife and Hull the night before on Saturday gave Sheffield a big 4 point weekend that was much needed.

Legue in his Colts days. (Photo: MarchHockey)
Legue in his Colts days. (Photo: MarchHockey)

Legue is an alumni of the Canadian Junior Hockey League, most notably the Central Canada Hockey League. He stuck out his Junior A career with the Tier II Cornwall Colts. From there he skated to an outstanding collegiate career with Ferris State University. After a quick stop in the East Coast league it was off to Europe for the man they call “Leggy”.

Legue is over a point a game player and is proving that once against this season with his current 30 points in 28 games. His speed, skill and hockey sense are a joy to watch for Steelers fans for many more years to come.

Here’s to you, Leggy, Cornwall’s still looking out for ya!

Fan Voice: Rudi Harrison and a brief look at the Sheffield Steelers

Drew Fata with Rudi (right) and her sister. (Twitter: @icehockey_gurl)
Drew Fata with Rudi (right) and her sister. (Twitter: @icehockey_gurl)

Rudi Harrison is one of the many young faithful followers of the Sheffield Steelers and she gives me a brief look at why she loves the game of hockey.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Rudi Harrison:  England. I’ve always been a huge fan of hockey but never had the chance to go to a game till 2007 at Sheffield Arena. I fell in love with the sport!MH:What makes you a passionate fan of the Sheffield Steelers?

RH: The strength of the players and the team. They are always positive, and in my eyes one of the best teams in the EIHL.

MH: Who is one player to look for on the team and why?

bust-brokeRH: Drew Fata.  Not only is he a good defenseman, he is a great fighter which makes the game a lot tougher!

MH: Do the Steelers do enough to keep fans interacted with the game?

RH: Yes!

MH::  Who is your favourite hockey player of all time?

RH: Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara for sure!

MH: What would be your dream hockey game? Which two teams would
play?

RH: A game between two rivals, so there’d be alot more fights and a lot more shots and goals keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. Probably the Bruins against the Steelers, now that would be an amazing game!

If you’re a passionate hockey fan who would like to feature your team or league, I want to hear from YOU! Find me on twitter @MarchHockey or drop me a line on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey

A Fan’s Perspective: Ben Thompson and British hockey

Along with getting a player’s perspective on the game, it’s usually more interesting to get a fans point of view. The fan is the most integral part of hockey. It keeps the business of hockey thriving. Without the fans, you have no team or league. And without the league well, there’s no game.

This is the first of what I hope to be many features on fans of the game throughout the world. It intrigues me to know how they got hooked onto the game and if you haven’t figured out by now, how the game thrives in their area of the world.

My first installment is with Ben Thompson of England. Follow him on twitter, @BenThompson84

Ben Thompson. Twitter: @BenThompson84
Ben Thompson. Twitter: @BenThompson84

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get interested in hockey?

Ben Thompson: I live in Doncaster, England, around 20 miles from Sheffield. My interest in hockey started in 1996 when we were taken to see the Sheffield Steelers on a school trip; totally hooked from there. (March’s note: Pretty kickass school. Never did that here in Canada!)

 

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the EPIHL compared to the EIHL?

Jeff Legue. Sheffield Steelers.
Jeff Legue. Sheffield Steelers.

BT: Well, as I said, my first team were the Steelers, possibly one of the top two biggest clubs in the UK. I saw them win titles & beat a team 18-1. In 2010 I saw them beat Cardiff 4-2 in a game where NOTHING happened in the 3rd. I needed a change. I went to see the Steeldogs in the division below; a hard working team packed with local players, only 3 imports…fights, high scores; cheaper tickets, cheaper beer, more passion, a family club…I was home. Although there are a few teams with big money in the EPIHL, it doesn’t effect the result of the league half as much as the EIHL, which makes the top division predictably boring.

MH: Who is your favourite EPIHL team and player? Why?

Greg Wood. Sheffield Steeldogs.
Greg Wood. Sheffield Steeldogs.

BT: Sheffield Steeldogs. Local team, home grown players, hard working ‘blue collar’ mentality. We’re hated for our physical tactics, which I love. Player wise, Greg Wood. Leader, Sheffield lad, skillful & brave. Reflects the club.
(Quick mention for Andy Hirst; from my hometown, ever improving, without a doubt a future ‘A’ & ‘C’)

MH: Does the EPIHL or the teams of the league in general do enough to incorporate fan interaction or to keep fans interested?

BT: I feel like an integral part of my club; the owner knows me on first name terms. The club look after their fans & work hard to engage people in the brand, but have a tough job with the Steelers been 500 metres away. Other EPIHL have good websites & Twitter but the EPIHL must work harder to push the league by incorporating a relevant EPIHL website & push media through YouTube or maybe even TV.

MH: If you were to change one thing about the league, what would it be and why?

BT: Usher the Guildford Flames into the EIHL. Financially they make the league a bit disjointed.

MH: Let’s talk NHL. Who’s your favourite team and player and why?

 

Jarome Iginla. (Photo credit: Hockey Broad. flickr.)
Jarome Iginla. (Photo credit: Hockey Broad. flickr.)

BT: I have a soft spot for the Calgary Flames (Not covered in glory last season). It all goes back to NHL 94 on the Sega. I also have Canadian relatives in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan,  so it has to be a Canadian team. Favourite player – Iginla (See career..Haha)

MH: How do you think the NHL could market itself better for fans over in Europe?

BT: More TV coverage – maybe Sky or BT Sport. Adopt an NFL style UK game, maybe at the MEN arena in front of 18,000.

Thanks so much Ben for giving your perspective on the game in England. If you are a passionate hockey fan, I want to hear from you! Send me a tweet on twitter @MarchHockey or a message on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey!