Bradford Bulldogs Ice Hockey Club ended its season in style by winning the prestigious Sheffield U16s tournament and being awarded the English Ice Hockey Association’s development award, in the same weekend.
The Bulldog U16s took on seven elite junior teams from England, Scotland and Wales in this high profile, two day annual event, held in Sheffield. The Bradford team topped the table at the end of the group stage and faced local rivals, Sheffield Rapiers, who they had beaten earlier in a nail biting 2-1 game. The Bulldogs stepped their game up another level in the final, with a clinical display of puck movement and deadly finishing in front of net, to take the title 6-2.
On Saturday, the English Ice Hockey Association held its AGM in Nottingham and announced that Bradford had won the EIHA Award for Development (North), for the second consecutive year. The award is recognition of the Club’s achievements in Junior Ice Hockey and its commitment to developing players from the ages of 5 to 18.
Andy Brown, Head Coach said “We have had a fantastic weekend to end the season, with our Under 16s playing to the standard I know they’re capable of and to receive the Development Award for the second year running was a huge achievement for everyone associated with our club”.
The Bulldogs have a senior team for the new season to compete in a total of 36 matches in the ENL North Div 2. This is part of our development plan to provide a pathway to our junior players to make the transition towards professional ice hockey. With so much young talent it is anticipated the most of our conference players, a high percentage who already represent England, will be provided with opportunities at the age of 16 to train up with the seniors to see if they are able to compete for a place on the team bench.
With a victory over Hull the week before the U14’s travelled away to Coventry; the plan was to build on the success of the previous solid performance!
Despite positive encouragement from the Coaches Brown and Charles with a short bench compared to Coventry 11 v 17 players the Bulldogs appeared erratic in this period and were lucky to keep control of the extended 20 minute period with the first goal going to Brown who scored another breakaway goal. Both teams picked up penalties with Ratcliffe receiving a penalty for interference but managed to redeem himself with yet another high flying sourer pass which found Brown’s Warrior stick for his second goal. As the buzzer sounded for the end of the first period the Bulldogs looked glad of the break as Coventry fought hard to try and get back into the game. The period score was 2: 0 in favour of the Bulldogs.
The second period commenced and as was the case in the first period the Bulldogs failed to pass the puck effectively and make use of the big ice in this Coventry Arena. The puck was frequently turned over by lethargic attempts to pass the puck by a more determined opposition who in this period pulled a goal back. This was a game which could have gone either way and which very few of the Bulldogs managed to repeat last week’s personnel performance with the exception to Griffin who put in a solid performance in defence and Walker who was kept busy by an ever determined trio of Coventry forwards. Coventry attacked with force where the Bulldogs simply failed to apply the same degree of pressure and who for most of the game played three D men with single or dual attacks which were quickly shut down in this second and final period of 20minutes.
The Bulldogs were lucky to take this game 2:1 and will need to use the ice far more effectively in their next game against second place Nottingham on the 7th of December 2013. Home face Off @ 18:00hrs.
Man of the Match award went to the Bulldogs net minder Harrison Walker.
With Bradford U12’s and U16’s teams having already taken two points off Manchester and Hull the day before, the U14’s were under pressure to perform against a team who had won all previous games prior to losing by one goal to top of the league Sheffield.
The warm up commenced with Bradford icing 11 players against the home team’s 17. The Bradford coaches appeared more vocal with instructions and guidance for drills which increased the intensity of work rate right from the start of this fixture.
The first period was frantic with the home side dominating the play but at 9:12 Brown managed a breakaway assisted by Heywood and Bradford took the lead. A few minutes later, Griffin cleared the puck in the Bradford zone and Lutwyche with the second assist gave Brown his second goal at 11:49. Bradford’s work rate was exceptional in this period driven by the Brown brothers and Andy Charles bench coaches. Despite a physical combat both teams played the game with respect for their opponents and the first period concluded with no penalty minutes and with the home team out shooting Bradford 10 v 7.
The score at the end of the first period was 2-0 in favour of the Bradford Bulldogs.
As the second period commenced Hull raised the game and there were some excellent displays of skill and ability from Ulrick, Strangeway and strength from Robinson and Sewell both of whom played a robust physical game. At 15:45 Hull’s new signing from Grimsby Blissett picked up a two minute penalty for tripping but Bradford could not capitalize on the opportunity. A second power play resulted as Barwell received a further two minute penalty for elbows at 17:56. Once again the Bulldogs looked like they were going to score with Ratcliffe, Lutwyche and Brown rotating the puck and firing shots around Hull’s net. With Hull back to full strength at 22:02 Ulrick scored a well deserved single handed goal. Bradford kept their composure and at 24:23 Brown assisted Lutwyche for goal number three. Against the run of play in the 29:53 minute Haywood feed the puck to Brown who made his signature breakaway down his favoured left and managed to thread the puck through the eye of a needle with a top left shot which received loud applause from both sets of supporters. The period ended with shoot’s on goal in favour of the Bulldogs 7 to 6 but this was by no means a fair reflection on Hull’s possession and shooting frequency or indeed the work rate of Walker, the Bulldogs netminder.
The score at the end of the second period was 4: 1 in favour of the Bulldogs.
The Hull bench retreated to the far corner of the rink which enabled the Bulldogs coaches to build on the confidence of the first two periods as well as giving players more time to rest. Despite a gruelling weekend where a number of players had already played two games, the Bulldogs returned to the ice in a confident mode knowing Hull would give no quarter in the third and final period. Following the face off the battle recommenced in front of the Bulldogs net where the forwards were forced to defend and back up the Bulldogs net minder who at times looked unstoppable. With all of the Bulldogs defending, Sewell persisted in front of the Bradford net and seized the opportunity of a loose puck, flicking it into an open Bradford net less than two minutes into the second period at 31:44. In the 33.26 minute Hull’s Milner picked up a two minute tripping penalty but once again the Bulldogs failed to take advantage of a third power play with some excellent defending and show of strength from the Hull players. With both teams back to full strength the Bulldogs displayed some excellent positional play which exposed Hull for the first time in this period allowing Brown to score his fourth goal of the game at 38:35. Hull never gave up despite being three goals behind and in the 39.08 minute Strangeway roofed the net with assists from Sewell and Robinson. Within two minutes Strangeway clocked up his second goal assisted by Robinson at 41:06. The Bulldogs had to raise the tempo, and some exceptional positional play saw Taylor receiving a hooking penalty in the 44:42 minute. As the power play started counting down the Bulldogs commenced a break out which lead to an off load by Ratcliffe to Brown in central ice and who subsequently found Lutwyche in front of an empty net giving the Bulldogs their sixth and final goal of the game at 44:48.
As the clock counted down and the buzzer sounded the Bulldogs U14’s skated over to congratulate Walker who had performed well but this was very much a team performance and the first game where the whole team had triumphed against a very well drilled and able opponents who are capable of competing for the championship this season.
The final score was 6: 4 in favour of the Bulldogs.
Man of the match award went to Bulldogs net minder Harrison Walker who after the game acknowledged the team’s performance: –
“After the Billingham game we all needed to focus on a win. Sometimes it’s hard playing U12’s and winning and then within minutes you’re back in the same net but the speed of play and puck is so much quicker. No excuses though as on Saturday I had little to do in Manchester which enabled me to focus on today’s game which was quite the opposite and as far as I am concerned we all played well today and the team deserved the award”.
Junior Bulldogs Results this weekend were;
Saturday 16th November 2013
U12’s (Div 1) away to Manchester 15:2. Win
U16’s (Div 1) home to Hull 6:5. Win
Sunday 17th November 2013
U14’s (Div 1) away to Hull 6:4. Win
U18’s (Div 2) away to Solihull 7:5 Win
With both teams relying on a number of U12’s playing up and with a 8 v 3 victory to the Bulldogs in the bag the Bradford U14’s appeared to commence the extended warm up in a complainant manner. The passing drills and speed of footwork lacked ability.
The first period performance reflected the warn up and the teams left the ice for an ice cut with Billingham quite rightly deserving the lead purely on work rate and desire to win. With an extended break and four Bradford coaches on the bench this was a game which could be turned around despite two key players missing which exposed our defence and our net minder who looked exhausted at times having just been awarded man of the match in the earlier U12’s game.
The second period continued as the first with both the Billingham players and the puck passing the Bulldogs defence which was seldom the case when Bradford had the puck. Billingham played a physical game in this period and constantly managed to turn the puck over by closing the play down. Billingham’s defence was strong and the team pulled together and always managed to get enough white shirts between the Bulldogs first line and their net minder who performed well. Frustration was creeping in as the Bulldogs were trying to walk the puck over the line and to be fair the goals did start to come in this period for the Bulldogs. Bradford Captain regularly consulted with the bench as did other players but this was a game where the Bulldogs centre simply did not troubled Billingham’s net minder as a number of the shots on target from Brown, Lutwyche, Ratcliffe and Griffin left the puck exposed and were simply chances missed. The second period ended X to Y in favour of Billingham who’s work rate simply outperformed the Bulldogs once again.
The third period was better for the Bulldogs and the home support became quite vocal as Bradford started to show their renown scoring power. This was a closely fought period and in the 11th minute Brown picked up a penalty for elbows and a power play resulted with the score at 9 to 8. The Bulldogs managed to keep the puck out of their own net but despite a number of individual attempts from Brown, Lutwyche and Ratcliffe in the last two minutes Billingham showed greater determination and as the final period ended the best team took the points with a 9 v 8 victory.
Period one two three
Shots on Goal
Billingham 13 11 18
Bradford 13 14 15
Accumulative Score 3v1 7v4 9v8.
Bradford’s Man of the Match – Jordan Griffin