Category Archives: Interviews

Behind The Mask #8 | Brython Preece: Coventry Blaze

Brython Preece. Known to his teammates as Preecey or Giraffe and to some fans as Dave…  the Welsh goalie is 19 and embarking on his first professional season with the Blaze, backing up Canadian Kevin Nastiuk.

Photo: Scott Wiggins

I’ve never met another Brython so I just had to ask about the pronunciation of his name. The y is more like the i in Britain. His middle name, in case you were curious, is the very easy to pronounce Mark. His brother James also plays hockey and used to play on a two way deal with the Blaze from the Telford Tigers, he got the middle name Tomas, which isn’t pronounced like Thomas. Just to make things interesting!

Following his brothers footsteps took him to the family run Ontario Hockey Camp. He liked the way the academy was run but says it was very much a case of being thrown in at the deep end. From being away from Mum and Dad for the first time to simply traveling and maneuvering an airport on his own, he says it was the first time he had to be responsible for himself. While out there, he not only spent time on the ice training but came away with a whopping 8 A-levels, studying PE, the single sciences as well as a few others. English was his favourite and he has enjoyed reading some of the English classics. Getting up in the morning for classes and keeping his bedroom tidy were two of the hardest things he had to learn to do as he claims to be one of the messiest people, but the school was run in such a way that if you didn’t go to classes, you didn’t get to go on the ice so lay ins weren’t an option.

Surveying the ice; Coventry’s Brython Preece

When talking to Brython about playing goalie, he had fond memories of the early days of playing in the Cardiff Academy. He always wanted to be a goalie and his parents still have his first pair of tiny pads. He says he wasn’t always the tall kid and that when he was younger he was actually quite small and so he’s deceptively quicker than his height might suggest as his growth spurt never really changed the way he played. He still plays like the small kid, even now he’s 6ft 5! When asked about the way fans have come to perceive goalies as being ‘weird’ he laughed. 

“I don’t get why they think we’re weird or crazy.. We wear full face masks, more padding and don’t fight. We’re the sensible ones.” 

I asked about how his relationship had developed with Nastiuk and whether the older goalie had given him any advice. “Not so much advice, I mean not in the beginning anyway. It was more support from a guy who had been where I am now 10 or so years ago. He knows what I’m dealing with and can be there for me in a way most of the other players can’t.”

He thinks it’s extremely important for a young talent to have the direction of a goalie coach. He explains that the job of a goalie specific coach isn’t quite the same as a coach for the rest of the team and not only encompasses the mechanics of actually playing the game but also covers development on a more personal level as well. “The work is there but it isn’t such a pressure or a strict relationship and it’s far more relaxed. Which really helps.” Brython goes on to discuss the mental side of being a goalie. “If you’re playing your absolute best and someone scores on you, it makes you angry and annoyed but if you know you’re not playing your best, you can laugh it off and think, well you got one, but you won’t get any more.”

Brython Preece and Kevin Nastiuk. Photo: Scott Wiggins

When the time came to set foot onto the ice in his first professional game, I asked him about his thoughts when he was on the bench. “Everyone said I looked really confident afterwards. I just treated it like any other game. I got into it and acted like there was no pressure… If I worried about it or got too much pressure on myself then in goal, you notice it. If there’s no pressure on myself then I can only do what I can do.”

Despite being 6ft 5, Preece shows he can be lightning fast on ice. Getting tall didn’t change his style.

Brython is so far enjoying his first season within a professional team and was surprised with how well he has kept up. Talking to him, I can tell he has a stellar work ethic and a will to  succeed. He is an asset to the Blaze and a player we can all depend on to always do his best. It was such a pleasure to sit down with Brython and I look forward to seeing him on the ice more during the season.

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This article was first published in the November 2017 edition of the Coventry Blaze’s match night program OnFire and has been reproduced here with permission from the editor Stu Coles now the program is out of print. 

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Behind The Mask #7 | Jordon Marr: Fife Flyers

And we’re back! With the first Behind the Mask of the 2017-2018 season and with the Fife Flyers new netminder Jordan Marr. Jordan was so lovely to talk to and at times (with my husbands’ interjections with questions of his own) we got quite off the topic of hockey, which makes this exactly what it says on the tin- a behind the mask interview. We get to know the Jordan that not everyone gets to see – and thanks to mum Tracy, there will be some never before seen photos of both Jordan and little brother Renny!

Continue reading Behind The Mask #7 | Jordon Marr: Fife Flyers

Stewart: “Every game is a playoff game.” 

Brian Stewart is what some might call a veteran goalie in the Elite League. If you look through the lists of import goalies who come and play here, most only last a year and some, not even that. Following some of the interviews with the Elite League goalies this season, I can definitely see why that is the case.

Continue reading Stewart: “Every game is a playoff game.” 

Behind the Mask #6 | Ervins Mustukovs: Sheffield Steelers

Ervins Mustukovs, Latvian native and two time player for the Sheffield Steelers. The 32 year old netminder came back to Sheffield at the beginning of this season after being invited by coach Paul Thompson with an offer he couldn’t refuse.
Continue reading Behind the Mask #6 | Ervins Mustukovs: Sheffield Steelers

Them Over there | Fife Flyer’s Ryan Dingle (#OnFire Repost)

When you type ‘Ryan Dingle’ into Google, not a great deal comes up. Elite Prospects, his Wikipedia entry and a couple of articles from the past summer about his re-signing with the Fife Flyers and earning the Captain’s C. Pretty much the usual suspects really and nothing that outwardly screamed ‘read me’. There doesn’t really seem to be much in the way of media surrounding the Steamboat Springs, USA native – which considering his role did throw me for a minute.

Continue reading Them Over there | Fife Flyer’s Ryan Dingle (#OnFire Repost)

Meet Fleetwood Mac Jorgensen on National Puppy Day

A little while ago now, I asked some of the Coventry Blaze players about their furry family members and Jim Jorgensen was kind enough to share some photos with me of his adorable French Bulldog Fleetwood Mac. 

Baby Fleetwood, isn’t he adorable?! (Photo Credit: Jim Jorgensen)

So of course I asked Jim about this adorable little cutie! 

This photo is the first time that I had ever seen who would become Fleetwood Mac. We were playing in France that season and my coaches wife drove me to the breeders. She was my translator! Alekz was still back home so I had to send pics and obviously we both fell in love with him instantly. So Fleet is an authentic French Bulldog, but sadly left France before he learned any French. 

Do you have any furry companions? Share some of their baby pictures today with the hashtag #nationalpuppyday 

Wiikman: “Its about being in the right place at the right time.” 

Recently, I came across the a photo of Miika playing for the New York Rangers. It peaked my interest and I couldn’t find anything about his time with the Rangers. At the time I shared it on my social media, wondering if anyone who followed me had known he’d been signed to the team. 

A couple of people guessed it was Miika as I just played a game of “Guess the Goalie” with them. If I couldn’t find anything online about his time with the team, then who better to ask that the man himself. 

As a goalie with an awful lot of experience playing all over the world I wanted to ask more about his time in the NHL and playing for various AHL teams. 

Considering Wiikman was never drafted; which is how most goalies come to play in the National Hockey league of course the question cam in regards to playing there, curiousity with these things, always gets the better of me. 

Wiikman between the pipes for the New York Rangers
“How did that come about?” I ask. “Playing for the New York Rangers, I mean.”

“Well I won a championship in Finland. They wanted to sign an AHL contract with me but the team wouldn’t let me go in Finland so I had to play one more year to sign a contract with them.” It all sounds a little familiar. European leagues not allowing some of the best players to go right away. 

“So I played the extra year and then I signed an AHL contract and played really well in my first year and then they offered me a two year NHL, two way deal.” Sounds easy enough doesn’t it?  

“I played there for three years total, played a couple of exhibition games, never got a chance in the NHL because Lundqvist was never sick or injured. Henrik was playing really well back then so there was no reason to bring up a goalie from the AHL. You have to be in the right place at the right time, that’s all it is really.” 

On home ice for the New York Rangers
“And Lundqvist?” I asked, leaning in with interest. Henrik is one of my favourites, you hear stories of him but he seems so untouchable at times. 

“He’s been a bit up and down the last season but he’s still probably the best goalie I’ve ever seen in practise and yeah, I’ve practised with him a bit.”

I of course wondered if he’d got the meet the King himself, perhaps learn from him or have a share in his wisdom on the game. 

“He’s a different kind of guy, he does his own stuff. He’s special for sure. He doesn’t interact with other people a lot. He’s got so much stuff going on off the ice too. I mean he’s got his modelling thing, his foundation, he plays tennis with McEnroe, he plays guitar in a band and stuff like that so yeah, he’s really nice guy for sure, but it’s hard to get a grip on him.”

Wiikman in an exhibition game against the New York Islanders

Somehow that doesn’t really surprise me. I move on to his days with their affiliate instead. Wondering if he got to play with any of the goalies I liked in the NHL or if he still watched them to encorporate anything they do into his game. 

“I do my own thing mostly, but of course I watch the NHL goalies too, there’s always something you can try. I’m always open for new stuff and I’ma pretty quick learner too so it’s pretty easy for me to put that into my game and try it.” 

“One guy I’ve been watching a lot lately is Bobrovsky in Columbus and obviously Holtby.” 

I chuckle nervously. “My favourite.” I say quietly and Mikka laughs. “I know, I’ve seen your twitter.” 

“I actually played against him in the East Coast, I beat him 7-0. He was in South Carolina and I was with Charlotte but I remember playing against him.

I have played against a lot of those guys who are in the NHL right now, Halak, Rask. I played against Rask a lot in the Finnish league. Quick, all those guys and it’s just crazy how close to the NHL I’ve actually been. 

When I start thinking about it but like I said you have to be in the right place at the right time and make good choices of course.”

Bieber & the (Manchester) Storm

A little while back now, during his most recent tour Justin Bieber came and skated with the Manchester Storm. Having seen the video below and knowing that Mike was involved in that, I wanted to ask him a bit about the experience and he was more than happy to talk to me about it.

Continue reading Bieber & the (Manchester) Storm

Them Over There | Edinburgh Capitals’ Jared Staal (#OnFire Repost) 

Jared Staal, at a mere 26 years old is the youngest of the four Staal brothers. Having played his time in the NHL with his brothers he’s since upped sticks and moved to the Scottish capital. Playing on the right wing for the Edinburgh Capitals, he cuts an impressive figure on the ice. Drafted 49th overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2008 NHL draft, critics could only imagine that he’d go on to be as successful as his older siblings.

Continue reading Them Over There | Edinburgh Capitals’ Jared Staal (#OnFire Repost) 

Behind the Mask #5 | Mike Clemente: Manchester Storm

Mike Clemente has played goalie for 20 years, from playing in North America in the AHL, college hockey at Brown University to playing in Denmark and now in the UK’s Elite League, he has many stories to tell about his time playing the game we all know and love.

Continue reading Behind the Mask #5 | Mike Clemente: Manchester Storm