Tag Archives: Coventry Blaze

Hockey Jerseys – A Play On Numbers

The Great One started off life wearing the number 9, in honour of his hockey hero, Gordie Howe. When he was drafted 3rd overall by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the 1977 OMJHL draft, the number 9 was already taken by Brian Gualazzi. Coach Muzz MacPherson made the suggestion that Wayne should wear number 99 instead. He agreed and the rest is history.

The first use of jersey numbers in ice hockey can officially be tracked back to the 1911/1912 season, where players in the National Hockey Association (the predecessor of the NHL!) required numbered armbands. The Patrick brothers who founded the PCHA put numbers on players’ backs so they could sell programs in which the players were listed by their numbers.

The first ever retired jersey was that of Ace Bailey, whose #6 was retired by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1934 following a career-ending fight with Eddie Shore during a game against the Boston Bruins in 1933. To make matters worse, the fight happened because Shore mistook Bailey for another player!

But why do players choose the numbers they do? Is there any meaning behind it?

Well, yes, for many there are, but it’s not as black and white as it was their hero’s number, or their birthday. We spoke to numerous players at all different levels and found out that it could be simply their first ever number or it could be to do with Greek mythology!

From NHL to EIHL to Rec to juniors – Here’s what the players themselves had to say:

39 ritt18-19rosterphoto

Evan Ritt (Guildford Flames): “Number 39 was just given to me. It was my first ice hockey number ever, I wore it from when I was 7 to when I went to play juniors”

Carter Hart

Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers): “My first development camp with the Flyers they gave me 79, just because the rookies get the higher numbers. Connor (a 7-year-old autistic boy) and Cavan (6-year-old) were there since Day One when I was in Everett. I remember those two kids ever since I started playing there.

“When I came back to Everett, Connor was there waiting for me, like he usually did, and he was yelling at me trying to show me his new jersey. He had a Flyers’ jersey with Hart No. 79 on the back. When I saw that, I decided I had to stick with No. 79, because there is a No. 79 out there.

“I probably would have stuck with No. 70, because that was my number in juniors. But because Connor had the Hart No. 79 Flyers’ jersey on, I realized I couldn’t change the jersey number now. I didn’t think Connor would have been too happy if I had the wrong jersey with the wrong number on the back. Because it was Connor, he was one of our biggest fans and it was really cool how much love Connor and Cavan gave us. To them, they’re 6, 7 years old, they look up to us. I couldn’t let them down.”

Patrick Killeen

Patrick Killeen (MK Lightining): “I have no real reason for wearing my current number. I’ve worn a couple other numbers but I’ve always enjoyed wearing number 1. Although, next season I would like to switch to number 32 because it’s my son’s birthday (March 2nd). I never really had a reason to care about which number I wore.  I just liked #1 and how traditional it was and how simple and clean it looked on a Jersey.  I was given #1 in the OHL because you had to wear a traditional goalie number (1, 30 or 31). I was given 1 because the other two were taken already. When I turned pro I didn’t really see any reason to change it. Although I wore #40 for a few months in Orlando. When I went to college I went back to #1 and then kept it so far throughout my pro career.”

Matt Ginn

Matt Ginn (Manchester Storm): “I don’t have any cool reason really. Wore it growing up playing minor hockey and that’s about it.”

08 ackered18-19rosterphoto

Calle Ackered (Guildford Flames): “15 was my first choice but when I saw that number was retired in Guildford, I had number 8 as my second choice because I had that number when I was very young playing football and had a lot of success. I really like number 8 now!”

Blaze Shields-Pettitt

Belfast Junior Giants netminder, Blaze Shields-Pettitt chose number 33 in homage to the ex-Edinburgh Caps netminder Kevin Forshall.


The junior system stateside is slightly different than the UK in regards to player numbers, as explained by Ashley, our resident Anaheim Ducks writer:

“I’m sat talking to my nephew – He originally wore number 23 as it’s his birthday but he was then moved to number 3 because he moved to top line and there’s a weird rule on junior jerseys and lines apparently. When he plays up for the U11’s he wears number 32 because it’s his birthday backwards.

“He moved from number 3 to number 9 for the u9’s…because he grew out of the number 3!”

Jaq Inglis

Our resident Dundee CTP writer, Jaq Inglis: “I wore 8 because it was my Maw’s field hockey number when she played. Hasn’t served me that well though!”

And Jaq isn’t alone in choosing a number in honour of his mother – He’s joined by NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin! Tatyana Ovechkina wore 8 as a point guard for the Russian women’s basketball team that won gold medals at the 1976 and 1980 Summer Olympics.

Ovi and Crosby

NHL superstar Sidney Crosby wears the number 87 because his birthday is on the 7th August 1987 (8/7/87 in American!)

Mhairi Dobbin

Mhairi Dobbin (Caledonia Steel Queens): “I wear 30 because I wanted a classic goalie number, but thought 1 was too intense – didn’t wanna give the impression I was any good!”

Sam Duggan

Sam Duggan (Cardiff Devils): “There’s no real reason I guess, it’s just always been my favourite number for some reason, and I’ve always worn it if I’ve been able too!”

Olli Hampson

IceTime TV commentator Olli Hampson: “I wore # 17 in juniors because my favourite player at the time was Russ Romaniuk, and currently where # 92 because I’m unoriginal and it helps me remember my year of birth better!”

Nate Schmidt

Nate Schmidt (Vegas Golden Knights): “I went to Washington for my first development camp as an unsigned free agent. All of us guys in that boat, we got high numbers. From 85 to like 98. They gave me 88 and, to be honest, it was a little high for my liking. But I wasn’t going to say anything. Then, when I signed with Washington and went to camp, it was there in my stall. So, I was 88. And now I’ve just always worn it. It’s funny but we get attached to numbers. Now it’s part of what defines me as a hockey player.

“Some of my buddies call me 8s. And my godson Clark, he only knows me as 8-8. He sees me on TV and says, ‘8-8.’ So, even if I wanted to change, I can’t now!”


Ex-NHL’er Steve Heinze wore number 57, purely because of the famous Heinze ketchup’s 57 varieties!

Steve Heinze

Then there’s Jordin TooToo… And yes, he did wear number 22!


And of course there’s the number reverse, which is exactly how Steve Stamkos decided to wear the number 91 jersey. His intention was to wear the number 19 jersey that his heroes Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman wore, but when he arrived at the Sarnia Sting and realised the number was taken, he flipped the numbers and it’s stuck ever since.


Only 1 player in the NHL has ever worn the number 0 – Hartford Whalers defenseman Neil Sheehy in 1988. When his family emigrated from Ireland, their name was O’Sheehy. Neil figured it was the best way to get the O’ back on his back.

jaromir jagr

There’s political reasons behind some numbers. The most famous of which would be Jaromir Jagr. The Czech winger donned the number 68 in honour of the “Prague Spring” in 1968, where democratic reform movement tried to free Czechoslovakia from Soviet domination.

Adam Goss

Adam Goss (MK Lightning): “Sure I’ll tell you the story but it’s kinda weird and long. In university I took a few electives in Greek and Norse history as part of the core curriculum (it was a liberal arts university) and through that I really became fascinated with the mythology part. So outside of class I took a deep dive into the stuff and kinda empathised with the people and loved their god culture where people would pay tribute to all these different gods.

“This led me to start doing it in hockey because some of them relate pretty well to sport and going to battle and that stuff. So now I pay tribute to 8 Greek (Olympian) gods and 4 Norse gods before a game, if I’m playing. Hence the number 84…. Could’ve been 48 though I guess!”

Miika Wiikman Coventry Blaze

Former Panthers, MK & Blaze netminder Miika Wiikman has always worn 20 and because it was Ed Belfours number.

Peterborough Phantoms Jordan Marr & Glasgow Clan’s Joel Rumpel both wear number 33 because it was Patrick Roy’s number

Brett Perlini Brit

Brett Perlini (Nottingham Panthers): “My Favourite number is actually 11 because my dad wore it in Guildford and had it retired. I would look up to the rafters every time I was on the ice as a kid, and see PERLINI 11 up there and I thought that was really cool. When 11 is unavailable I then go to number 9. A lot of hockey greats wore this number like Howe and Gretzky (before 99 obviously) so I think it represents a scorers number and that’s what I try to be”

So from paying homage to their favourite players or even parents – From having to choose a different number if their first pick was taken, to political reasons – From having a number chosen for you to choosing a number which sounds like your name – Most numbers do have a backstory.

And there are so many more stories out there. If you know of any good ones, let us know! And be sure to speak to your favourite players and ask them the next time you see them, because it’s a personal choice which they made and wear proudly in front of us each week.




Photo credits: Scott Wiggins Photography, John Uwins Photography, Guildford Flames, MK Lighting, IHUK, NHL.com


Opinion: Leave DOPS alone! It’s not actually as bad as you say

One of the hardest jobs in professional sports is to work on the Department of Player Safety. Mostly because despite your best intentions, angry fans will never appreciate you just doing your job.

Let’s just be up front and honest from the start, most of your issues with DOPS come from the fact that one of your players got suspended, that’s your initial anger. Then you dissect the reason and sometimes you see logic behind the suspension, but sometimes you’ll keep your “insert team colour here” tinted glasses on and that’s where the same boring “DOPS is (insert chosen swear word here)” social media posts come in.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being unhappy, it’s the same reason why some of you yell “shoot” much to the dismay of fans who’ve given themselves an elevated sense of importance based on how long they’ve been watching the sport (as though that means anything), it’s fueled by passion. But the truth of the matter is that the Elite League’s Department of Player Safety isn’t actually doing a bad job.

Continue reading Opinion: Leave DOPS alone! It’s not actually as bad as you say

Movin’ On Up

With the motocross bikes in situ at the FlyDSA Arena; the Steelers spent the weekend on the road in their bid to climb the table. Their opponents were the same as the previous one, Nottingham and Coventry. A four point weekend had ensued then; the big question was could the Steelers repeat it?

Continue reading Movin’ On Up

“I just wanted to push myself to the max…” – Jordan Hedley

Jordan Hedley is no stranger to the world of British Ice Hockey. He’s been playing since he was just a little boy and has already got quite an extensive resume to his name.

Continue reading “I just wanted to push myself to the max…” – Jordan Hedley

Flames Win 18/19 Patton Conference

The Guildford Flames have won their first ever Elite League trophy after recording their second straight win over the Manchester Storm this weekend, capping a superb week for the Surrey side following their progression to the Challenge Cup final mid-week against the Nottingham Panthers.

Continue reading Flames Win 18/19 Patton Conference

Whatever happened to… – Jereme Tendler

This is part of a potential new series where we look into former EIHL players after their days in this league come to an end, if you have any players you’d want us to look at please let us know.

Between 2010 and 2014 (we’ll ignore the 2014/15 season for him with the Coventry Blaze apart from the playoffs), there was one name that was near the top of the scoring lead year after year as a member of the now defunct Hull Stingrays.

After joining from the Corpus Christi IceRays of the Central Hockey League, Jereme Tendler immediately shone in his first year in the EIHL, finishing seventh in league scoring with 73 points, including a league best 46 goals, one of just 11 players to ever reach the 40-goal mark in a season (and one of two Stingrays along with Guillaume Doucet who’s currently with the Glasgow Clan)

Over the next three seasons, his overall point totals did take a dip, but he reached over 30 goals in every season, finishing top 10 in goals each year, leading the league twice.

In 244 games in the EIHL, he posted 164 regular season goals (10th most in league history) and 114 assists, with all but 24 of those points coming for the Stingrays, while he spent his last year playing for the Coventry Blaze in a poor season statistically for all Blaze players with 39 points by Steven Goertzen leading the team but barely cracking the top 40 in the league that year as Coventry put up just 127 goals in 52 games, with the Dundee Stars being the only team to get less with 123 that year. However despite a tough season for the Blaze, they did go on to win the playoffs with a 4 – 2 win over the Sheffield Steelers, with Tendler getting on the scoresheet as you’d expect

After that year in Coventry, we haven’t seen Tendler again, but he’s still ticking along at the age of 35, playing for ASC Corona Brasov in Romania, playing in the Erste Liga which is made up of predominantly Hungarian teams.

After his year in Coventry he moved initially to the German fifth division, posting 5 points in just two games for EC Bad Tölz II, before leaving for Hungary shortly into his stint to sign with Ferencvárosi TC to begin his Erste Liga career.

Clearly not content with being a top 10 goalscorer in one league, since making his debut in the 2015-16 season, the native of Viceory, Saskatchewan is ninth in league history for goals, posting 120 in 155 games, also being the highest scoring import forward of all time in the league.

With 200 points to his name as well, he’s closing in on the most by a Canadian in that league, just six points behind Josh Bonar and 25th all-time.

With 53 points in his first year in the league, he was second in team scoring for Ferencvárosi, finishing three points behind Joona Manninen despite playing 12 less games, and then his 60 point season the following year led the team, before a dip in production across the entire team in his third and final year playing in Hungary saw him put up a 32-point season that included 21 goals.

After the 2017-18 season, Tendler was on the move again, this time to his current destination of ASC Corona Brasov in Romania.

Once again he’s having another superb year with 14 points in 10 games in the MOL Liga (the Romanian league they also play in) while also adding to his Erste Liga point totals with a big 55-point season, including a sixth 30+ goal season in his professional career, tied for the league lead with Braden Walls of Ferencvárosi with both players currently on 36-goals.

Much like his days in the EIHL, he’s been one of the best players in the league to not win much in the way of silverware. Despite his high scoring habits continuing, he’s consistently around the top 10 in points and goals in the league, but is yet to win more than just the 2014/15 EIHL Playoff Championship he won as part of the Blaze.

It’s safe to say that despite the lack of team success he’s had in his career, Tendler will go down as one of the greatest goal scorers in both the EIHL and Erste Liga, and at 35-years-old, he’s proving there’s a lot left in the tank with another impressive season.

Photo Credit: Mudra László (MJSZ/jkb.hu)

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Don’t Stop Believing

After enjoying a mixed weekend just gone, the Steelers headed into their latest round of fixtures outside the play-off spots but knew that they could remedy that if they managed to see off old foes Nottingham and Coventry. It was to be a weekend that the club had again hyped up the “play-off push” as the team headed into their final 15 games of the regular season – could they get their last chance at success reignited?

Continue reading Don’t Stop Believing