Tag Archives: British Ice Hockey

Nastiuk debuts New Bucket on ice in Belfast – and it’s a beaut!

Last night the Coventry Blaze took on the Belfast Giants at the SSE arena. What went from a game dominated by the Blaze in the first and second, the Belfast Giants went on to take the win.

What did catch fans attention however was the new mask, worn by Coventry Blaze netminder Kevin Nastiuk. For most of the season, Nasti has been wearing an older mask, which was customised for his previous team.

However now, he’s showing off a new white, silver and gold design showcasing the Coventry Blaze dragon logo on top. Each side features a flag. Canadian as a nod to his heritage and Great Britian on the other, no doubt as homage to the country he currently plays in. The backplate is plain as far as I could see from photos and of course his number 52 is on his chin.

It’s a beautiful mask, clean and concise and well designed. Very nice!

Photos used are from Coventry Blaze twitter, but taken by Belfast Giants photographer William Cherry.


From the Pen of an Unbiased Fan

November 5th, Skydome Arena and I’m back in block 7. It’s my old stomping ground here, where I started out, cheering for the Steelers in 2015. Only this time I’m cheering on one of my favourites, Miika Wiikman and the rest of the MK Lightning.

Now, let me tell you. In the three seasons that I have been an EIHL fan I have cheered for most of the teams. I love the Elite League, there are no underdogs here. Any team can win on any given night

From the first game I was drawn to the netminders. Firstly, it was Tyler Plante of the Sheffield Steelers and then Brian Stewart, formerly of the Coventry Blaze and now playing for the Guildford Flames.

Last season, while playing for the Nottingham Panthers I found myself drawn to our starting goalie Miika. It was only after watching a good few games and with the rise of my own blog Chasing The Puck, I decided I wanted to interview as many of the Elite League goalies as I could. I wanted to try and break down some of the long held beliefs about them. Namely, that goalies are a bit weird and get to know the men behind the metal cages. Those guys who defend our pipes.

I find watching a goalies play fascinating. They have a way about them that no other outfield player has. Be it the pre-game preparation of Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby or the steely concentration caught on camera by the most talented of the league photographers or the slide – side to side across the goal line – to gauge the distance and the range of movement they’ll need or even the tap of the stick off each post before play begins. There is something I find truly mesmerising.

From Coventry to Cardiff, Belfast to Braehead I have yet to find a goalie who wasn’t open and honest about the pressures they feel when on or off the ice. Whether that be Wiikman discussing the importance of good coaching in his youth or Brython Preece discussing the scary move away from home aged 15 to go and join the Ontario Hockey Academy.
I have interviewed players of all nationalities and each have their own unique style of play that I believe it differs depending on the place they got their training.

I have spoken to eight different goalies in the EIHL, although Mike Clemente, Stewart and Wiikman all come to mind, especially when ‘knocking off the nets’ comes up on a fan forum on the web.
I asked Miika about it after a particularly heated debate on facebook. He sends me a laughing emoji and tells me that only twice in his career has he knocked the net off on purpose. Later the same evening, after the game he played (in which the net came off it’s moorings a couple of times) he tells me I must have jinxed it!

My own personal feeling is this; I believe it depends on the style of play. If a goalie has trained in North America and Canada, their style of play is such that they can lean more on the posts as they are deeper into the ice there than they are in our own league. It’s the nature of the way they are brought up and this possibly could explain why the American Clemente and Canadian Stewart, are considered to be the worst offenders. Though a recent incident with Clemente and a dive at his own goal could definitely be considered deliberate!

Away from the ice, these guys are family orientated. Clemente for example comes from a large family of six boys so he says family time is so precious. He’s also the goalie that spends much of his travelling time napping, reading or eating. Learning to sleep in noisy places is a valuable skill, probably learned while trying to sleep back home in a busy house.

Cardiff goalie Ben Bowns talks about his dog Stitch, who comes to the arena and is fussed by staff and players alike. Stitch loves nothing more than his time in the dressing room. He’ll even get grumpy if Ben walks the long way around so as to avoid the dressing room!

Gary Russell, told me how as a youngster he had a serious Irn Bru problem and likes his tea, Yorkshire style, with milk and two sugars. His celeb man crush is David Beckham and the first thing he picks up after an away game? A piece of pizza! If you meet Moose in a bar, don’t buy him a beer. He doesn’t like how it tastes. Instead buy him an apple juice and ask about his cats.

You learn really interesting things about each player if you ask the right questions. Nothing is too silly or too obvious. I have laughed and joked with a fair few of them. To say that interviewing them has brought me confidence as a journalist would be an understatement. Goalies are some of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet and it’s why they will always be my absolute favourite.


This article was originally published in the December issue of MK Lightning’s matchnight program and has been republished here, with permission, now the magazine is no longer in print. All images are my own other than the photo of Ben Bowns, which belongs to its rightful owner and has not been used here for profit in any way.

Add a Little Hockey to your Instagram Feed with 8 of my Favourite Hockey Accounts

These are some of my favourite hockey accounts to follow on Instagram, but which accounts would you suggest I follow? Which players are your favourites? Which team posts the best content on Instagram? Let me know!

Continue reading Add a Little Hockey to your Instagram Feed with 8 of my Favourite Hockey Accounts

Let’s talk about Zebras

I don’t know about you but I’ve been a fan of hockey now for a few years. I started watching because a friend introduced me to it after I’d been watching NHL for a little while and I was looking for something closer to home to watch. It’s always been pretty casual up until recently, but more and more as I’m learning the rules and learning to watch for those infractions it’s becoming clear that there are a few problems… I wonder – do other people see them too?

1. Rules – What rules do the EIHL actually play using?

I’d love to be able to actually look through them – to learn them but I can’t actually find them. I’ve scoured for a while to try and find a definitive list but it appears not to exist. You go to the Elite League’s official website and try search for rules and it brings up a whole lot about the Department Of Player Safety (DOPS) but no actual rules. This I find deeply frustrating. How can the officiating staff all sing the same song if no one has a copy of the lyrics??

2. Consistency throughout British Ice Hockey – not just the Elite League, but across the board.

Players move through the ranks quite often, moving from the Steeldogs to the Steelers, the NIHL Blaze to the EIHL Blaze or from various other lower league teams to their EIHL counterparts. Should these players be expected to learn two different sets of rules – or at least the rules that are different between the two leagues. What happens if a player causes a penalty by doing something that would have been allowed under their previous team just because they weren’t aware of the differences?

Talk recently has been about cleaning up mainly the Elite League in the UK, but what about the rest. Personally I think that rules need to be the same across all of the adult leagues in the country. The minute you are playing for an adult team, you follow the same set of rules, regardless of the league. Isn’t that just straight-up common sense?

3. Accountability – Should the league be holding  referees accountable for poor decision making?

Now this one, this is quite tricky really due to the above mentioned lack of an actual rule book and the fact that I’ve come to believe the refs are volunteers? Not actually employees of the league. [please correct me if I’m wrong about that] In refereeing there is also the element of human error, no person is a robot. No one will catch every single infraction that happens in the fast paced game. However, of a referee makes a decision that the league or teams believe to be unfair or unjust, they should be called out on it and dealt with accordingly. After all DOPS is there to check on the calls that teams feel are unfair or incorrect but it is the player who is punished after the fact, rather than the referee who gave the wrong call at the time.

I know this one is a bit of a long shot though because as volunteers they don’t really have the same kind of code of conduct or rules as someone who would actually be employed. They give up their time to do this but it does not excuse the, at times, sloppy calls of the referees. Referees need to be held to a higher standard, they can’t be seen to be more biased towards one team or another. How can it be right for a referee to travel on a team bus for example to save money on travel and then not have their possible bias called into question by the other team? Who’s to know what goes on behind closed doors when everyone’s back is turned? To me, it just does not seem right.

Officiating staff need to be above reproach, so that accusations like that cannot be thrown at them because there is simply no evidence to suggest they are anything but unbiased and impartial.
4. The ban on being able to say anything against referees 

This one? This one really grinds my gears. Why can’t coaches and players be able to air their grievances against referees without the risk of a fine? Because it’s unprofessional?

If there is evidence to back up their claims why not let them air it? Let coaches grumble, perhaps there’s a reason for their complaints that needs to be dealt with rather than having them swept under the carpet and the speaker be fined for saying what’s on their mind. That is not good business. Don’t turn a blind eye to bad calls and expect no one to notice. Fines to those who speak out is simply not the answer. Sure it lines the pockets of the league top bosses, but it doesn’t solve the problem of dubious refereeing.

Referees need to be accountable. They are not Gods who’s decision is final, they make mistakes just like all us meer mortals and should be called out on it. Just like anyone else. If they make a stupid decision they should have to justify it. Not just have it brushed off and under the carpet simply because of the colour of their shirts.

These are basically a few things I have been mulling over for a while. Is there anything else you think should be discussed?