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Bulldogs’ brought to halt again … but hopefully not for too long

Bulldogs’ youngsters get ready to take to the ice at the recent Christmas day-camp at Bradford Ice Arena.

FOR understandable reasons, Bradford Ice Arena has had to shut its doors to everybody for the third time in the past 10 months, meaning there will be no Bulldogs training for the foreseeable future.

After the Prime Minister’s announcement on Monday night, the national lockdown to help combat Covid-19 prevents any kind of hockey training taking place – among most other things – adding to what has been an already challenging few months for everybody.

Bulldogs’ head coach Andy Brown had introduced extra practice sessions following the end of the second lockdown in November, with players from Under-9s through to Under-18s keen to take up the opportunity of boosting their development even further.

Andy has been pleased with the progress made by many of the youngsters at the club – at all age groups – and hopes it won’t be too long before he can get them back on the ice once again.

Youngsters from Group A on the Bulldogs’ New Year’s Day camp take part in the closing game at Bradford Ice Arena.

“The last few weeks have been excellent for everyone, I think,” said Andy.

“We brought in these extra, age-specific sessions given that we had the extra ice available at the rink and it has only helped our players develop their skills.

“We even managed to arrange two separate day camps which went down well with the youngsters, events where you could really see a striking progression in their abilities – even when it is just three extra hours of ice.”

Andy said there had been plans to put on a Bulldogs’ training camp during the half-term school holidays in February but this, along with everything else for the foreseeable future, has had to be shelved until later in the year.

Taking instruction on the recent New Year’s Day camp.

“It is a frustrating time for so many people on so many different levels at the moment,” he added. “And we have to remember that there are more important things in life than hockey at times like this.

“We just need to make sure that we all stay safe, follow the government guidelines and then, maybe, we can all get back to doing the things we love doing the most – whatever that may be.

“I’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks since the second lockdown and I’ve been pleased with the way the kids have responded to the extra sessions and taken on the extra challenges we’ve given them.

“Hopefully, we can all get back together on that ice again as soon as possible and pick up where we left off.”

Bulldogs’ juniors back at it … this time for good, all being well

BACK AT IT: Bradford Bulldogs’ junior teams are back on the ice at Bradford Ice Arena this week after the end of the second UK lockdown.

 

THANKFULLY it wasn’t as long as the first lockdown and, hopefully, there won’t be any more interruptions between now and the end of the 2020-21 season.

Tuesday night saw our Bulldogs Under-18s take to the ice for their first extra session and Wednesday evening sees our other age groups get back at it with their regular training sessions.

Head coach Andy Brown has also scheduled a number of additional training sessions given the extra ice that is currently available at Bradford Ice Arena, due to the Tier 3 restrictions currently in place.

Thursday gives our Under-15s the chance to get some extra ice time from 7pm-8.30pm, while Friday night brings non-stop action for our teams.

First up will be the Under-9s and Under-11s, who hit the ice between 6pm-7.30pm, followed by the Under-13s who are on from 8pm-9.30pm. The Under-18s return to their regular Friday night slot after a month or so off from 10pm onwards.

On Sundays, the youngsters will get the chance to add a bit of welcome competition to their training with some in-house games. 

First up will be the Under-9s and Under-11s who will battle it out from 11am-12.30pm, followed by the 13s, 15s and 18s who start their match at 1pm. 

NOW HEAR THIS: Bulldogs’ youngsters take instruction from their coaches at a training session back in September.

“It will be great to get the youngsters back on the ice,” said coach Brown. “It hasn’t been easy, but we’ve managed to get things sorted and get the rink open.

“With the restrictions that are still in place because of Bradford being classed as a Tier 3 area, it means that we currently have extra ice available for the various age group teams.

“It would be great if as many of our kids as possible took the opportunity to get down as often as they can in the next few weeks for these extra sessions. All being well, if the EIHA’s Return to Play policy progresses as planned and hoped, we can get some games into these kids at some point next year.

BRING IT BACK: Youngsters are able to return to what they love doing this week at Bradford Ice Arena.

 

“I know it has been an exceptionally frustrating time for all of us these past few months – obviously it has been a terrible time for everybody – but, from a hockey sense, it is now about trying to make up for lost time and make these next few months really count.”

  • Wednesday night’s training remains £5 per player, while the extra sessions, including the in-house games on Sundays, will cost £10 payable on the door to the respective team managers.

Bulldogs’ 2020 (virtual) Awards Night

 

 

THE rink may have been shut for a number of months now but Bradford Bulldogs were still able to stage their annual awards night – thanks to the wonders of modern technology.

The achievements of all our teams from Under-9s right through to the seniors were celebrated following another positive season on and off the ice.

Chairman Jonathan Lutwyche ‘compered’ the event, with club head coach Andy Brown dishing out the awards for the various teams, while more than 75 households logged on from their homes or on their phones.

“It was truly great to see most of our Bulldogs and friends alike,” said Jonathan. “It wasn’t the platform for the presentation we would have preferred–it was terrifying for Andy and me! But it did give us the chance to celebrate our achievements, thank all of those that make our club a great success, and praise all our players as they astound us year after year!’       

As the season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, we were left with a general feeling of what might have been, but the head coach reflected on some of the positives of the season.

‘Our Seniors had a great season and, but for a couple of slip-ups early in the campaign, could have pipped Hull Jets to the title – and who knows what could have happened in the playoffs if they had gone ahead?” he said. 

“Obviously, it was a premature end to the season that nobody expected or wanted but, fingers crossed, the rink can be open sometime soon, hopefully within the next month or so.

“It’s going to be a bit different to how we’re used to doing things but I’m sure if we all approach it together in the right way we can enjoy another season of progress both on and off the ice and get back to playing great Bulldogs hockey!”

Andy added: “One of our biggest aims as a club is to ensure that we continue to produce quality hockey players year on year while, more importantly, also ensuring the kids get the most enjoyment out of it, both at practice and on game weekends. 

“In this sense, our season was again successful in that we’ve seen more players come through and progress up the age groups once again which, as always, is pleasing to see.”

 

Here is a rundown of who won what … 

Seniors

  • Players’ Player of the Year: Ian Thirkettle
  • MVP: Josh Richardson
  • Top Points Scorer: Josh Stockton
  • Best Forward: Matt Viney
  • Best Defence: Dean Boothroyd
  • Best Netminder: Ian Thirkettle
  • Most Improved: Connor Medley
  • Clubman: Dave Williams

Head coach Andy Brown said: “It was our best season in a long, long time  – I don’t remember finishing second since I was a lad. The season before we finished fourth and made the playoffs which was a great achievement  and we’d set our targets of hitting the playoffs again.

“We knew it was going to be a tougher league this year and it was, it was much more competitive. We had some injury problems and we had quite a few penalty minutes which definitely wasn’t good and is certainly an area where we need to improve next season.

“We know we’ve got a good core of players who can compete and if we can keep five guys on the ice and we can keep everyone fit then we should be in contention again.

“Over the course of the season, Hull were probably the stronger team, they certainly had the most depth out of any team and perhaps they were the worthy league winners, but taking second was a great achievement for us.”

Under-18s

  • Players’ Players of the Year: Alex Mitchell, Luke Cadman, Alex Lutwyche
  • MVP: Alex Lutwyche
  • Coach’s Player of the Year: Logan Jean-Jacques
  • Top Points Scorer: Daniel Justovics
  • Sportsmanship: Lucas Vince
  • Best Forward: Daniel Justovics
  • Best Defence: Alex Mitchell
  • Best Netminder: Daniel Norton
  • Most Improved: Jack Wooding
  • Best Rookie: Kacper Andrukianiec

Head coach Andy Brown said: “We knew it was going to be a tough league and we set our sights, not to win the league, but we’d highlighted teams that we wanted to compete well against and keep the scoreline respectable etc and we more than achieved that.

The parts I was disappointed with were largely out of our hands, some refereeing decisions were poor, at best, for example. But with the group of players that we had, I was really happy with what they managed to achieved. 

“We initially felt if we could finish seventh out of the nine and avoid the bottom two, that would be good, but we ended up finishing fifth so we were well above target.”

Follow the Bulldogs on Twitter HERE

Under-15s

  • Players’ Players of the Year: Jacob Brownlie and Jess Wooding 
  • MVP: Mathew Cross 
  • Coach’s Player of the Year: Tom Mardell
  • Top Points Scorer: Damarni James 
  • Best Forward: Damarni James
  • Best Defence: Mathew Cross
  • Best Netminder: Dan Norton
  • Sportsmanship: Jess Wooding
  • Most Improved: Leo Peck
  • Best Rookie: James Hornby.

Under-13s

 

Bradford Bulldogs Under-13s warm-up ahead of game against Sheffield at Bradford Ice Arena last season.

  • Players’ Player of the Year: Grace Cooper
  • MVP: Grace Cooper
  • Coach’s Player of the Year: James Adamson 
  • Top Points Scorer: Daragh Spawforth
  • Best Forward: Daragh Spawforth
  • Best Defence: Grace Cooper
  • Best Netminder: James Adamson
  • Sportsmanship: Jake Wigginton
  • Most Improved: Tyler Hall 
  • Best Rookie: McKenzie Barker 

Head coach Alex Jones said:This season has been an interesting one for a variety of reasons. Whilst some may point to results or our position in the league as a reference, for me it’s been about development and having the right input to eventually achieve an output.

“We have focused on core skills development, positional understanding and responsibility via video analysis and tried to create a professional ethos that’s centered around respect and hard work.

“Despite some of the disappointments our team has been able to look at the positives and be pragmatic about the work we have needed to do to improve which considering we had players as young as 9 playing up is testament to the commitment and love of the game these kids have.

“Well done Bulldogs, a season you should be proud of, I know I am.”

Under-11s 

Bradford Bulldogs Under-11s, pictured during the 2019-20 season. Picture courtesy of www. happysnapz.co.uk

  • Players’ Players of the Year: Danny Harrison and Jacob Mardell
  • MVP: Frankie O’Sullivan
  • Coach’s Player of the Year: Kieran Smith
  • Best Forward: Danny Harrison
  • Best Defence: Ed Donovan
  • Best Netminder: Jacob Mardell
  • Best Rookie: Charlie Barker
  • Most Improved: Sam Bain 

Team manager Lee Farrow said: As young players stepping into a very competitive league, our players really rose to the challenge and had a great shortened season in 2019-20.  “There were some thrilling matches where our young pups dug deep and pulled a win out of the bag. 

“We had a real chance to make the Nationals before the season was cut short and I know that had we been successful, they would have all given 110 per cent. We’re all sad to see our team-mates move up to Under-13’s but also look forward to welcoming some new players from the Under-9s next season.”

 

Under-9s

As is tradition, there are no specific awards handed out for the club’s youngest team. Head coach Andy Brown said that the amount of promising youngsters he saw currently coming through the Under-9s was exciting, offering many reasons to be cheerful about the club’s ability to continue bringing young talent through.

Team manager Nicola Steel said: The 2019/20 season was another enjoyable and successful one for our group of new and slightly more experienced players. Every player took big steps forward in their development, some making the most of playing up with the Under-11s. 

“We are looking forward to the new season as and when we are able to start and would welcome any new players to our group.”

Follow the Bulldogs on Twitter HERE

U16 Hull Stingray Away

The Bulldogs welcomed back an ex player to the arena on Saturday, Corey Stones made his first appearance back at Bradford since his move to the Stingrays
The first period saw a really strong period from Bradford and the performance from the bulldogs did not reflect the score with Bradford out shooting the Stingrays 20 to 9 in that first period but an outstanding performance from the Stingrays net-minder Dean Bowater kept Bradford’s goals down to one, Adam Flinlinson opened the scoring for the Stingrays and Corey Stones marked his return with an outstanding back handed goal, Bradford’s Kieran Brown got one back for the Bulldogs and the period ended with the Stingrays leading 2-1
The second period continued as the first with both teams passing the puck. The Stingrays played a physical game in this period but the Bulldogs constantly managed to turn the puck over by closing players down and working hard, both defences and net minders were working extremely hard with Dean Bowater making more outstanding saves. The stingrays were getting more shots away but the bulldogs worked hard and Josh Richardson levelled the match in the 20th Minute but eight minutes late Maris Sadinovs goal put the Stingrays back in front. Bradford grafted out the period finishing even one goal apiece in the period but 3- 2 down in the game.
An inspirational team talk from Andy and Glenn and the third period started with the Bulldogs coming out of the blocks hard and fast and dominating the puck. Lewis Baldwin started the comeback early in the period with a bullet from mid ice, Ryan Kemp netted in the 33rd minute and it was all square. Frustration was creeping in to the Stingrays game and they became more physical. The Stingrays picked up penalties in this period with a two plus ten for checking from behind and two more 2 minutes for roughing and cross checking. The Stingrays were turning up the heat but the bulldogs were always looked dangerous on the break. The last four minutes was closely fought but the Bulldogs managed to dig deep and through team work and hard graft they kept the Stingrays at bay. An Exciting Game of Hockey but the Bulldogs put the bite on the Ray’s with the final period ending and the best team on the day took the points with a 6-5 victory.
Period one two three
Shots on Goal
Bradford 20 9 21
Hull 9 22 6
Period Score 1-2 1-1 4-2
Bradford’s Man of the Match – Ryan Kemp