SUNDAY saw two more of our teams in action, this time the Under-13s and Under-18s facing Widnes in the Planet Ice Cup.
The Under-13s travelled across to Cheshire and, after a number of them had excelled in the JLMC Jamboree event beforehand, still had enough energy left to enjoy a comfortable 21-3 win over their hosts.
Will Durgan led the way in terms of goals, bagging six, with Danny Harrison (4+6) and Daragh Spawforth (4+0) also getting in on the act. Frankie O’Sullivan (3+1) weighed in with a hat-trick, with Jake Wigginton (1+1), Kieran Smith (2+0) and Charlie Barker also making their mark. Danny Harrison was presented with the Spirit of the Game afterwards.
Back on home ice, the Under-18s enjoyed a 12-0 win against their visitors.
Daniels Justovics (3+2) again excelled, with Jack Wooding (2+2), Logan Jean-Jacques (2+0), Lucas Vince (2+0), Damarni James (1+2), Kacper Andrukianiec (1+1) and Malachi Budd also finding the net.
Further assists came from Dan Lilley, McKenzie Barker, Gabe Lingaard and Alex Lutwyche.
HOME ice proved an advantage for our Under-11s and Under-15s when they each recorded deserved victories against Whitley Bay on Saturday.
Daragh Spawforth (6+1) and Jake Wigginton (1+5) combined brilliantly to lead the way for the Under-15s, for who Andy Bourke was behind the bench to oversee an entertaining, closely-fought 9-4 win against impressive opponents.
McKenzie Barker and Danny Harrison were the others to find the net, while there were assists for Harrison Booth (2), Brett Harper, Tom Mardell and Harrison.
Netminder Jacob Midgley excelled between the pipes, saving 40 of the 44 shots on his goal to take the Spirit of the Game award.
Earlier in the day, our 11s got the better of the visitors with a comprehensive 17-8 win.
There were several hat-tricks to be had with Kyle Bower (3+1), Billy Simpson (3+1), Layden Fletcher-Robb (3+1) and Charlie Barker (3+0) all finding their range, while Will Durgan (2+5) also got in on the act, along with Kieran Smith (2+1) and Anjris Mikelsons (1+0). An assist apiece went to Maksims Gailliss and Ellie Simpson, with brother Billy making it a day to remember when also picking up the Spirit of the Game award.
Today, it is back to Planet Ice Cup for two of our teams, with the Under-18s hosting Widnes, while the Under-13s head over to Cheshire.
Last weekend, there were mixed fortunes for Bradford Bulldogs’ teams in the Planet Ice Cup on Sunday, the Under-15s going down at home to Kingston Sharks, while the Under-11s enjoyed a comfortable win on the road against the Sharks.
With Hull Ice Arena undergoing major refurbishment work still, the Under-11s only had a short distance to travel to Leeds to take on Kingston, who are using the Planet Ice rink on Elland Road as their temporary home.
The visitors won 20-4, thereby invoking the mercy rule which means it will go down as an 8-0 victory.
Kieran Smith, Will Durgan, Charlie Barker, Layden Wood, Billy Simpson, Kyle Bower and Anjris Mikelsons all got on the scoresheet, while Ellie Simpson was awarded the Spirit of the Game award.
It was a different story on home ice for the Bulldogs’ 15s, who went down 16-4 against a strong Kingston team (again the mercy rule means it is recorded as an 8-0 win for Kingston).
Daragh Spawforth fired home all four of the Bulldogs goals, with an assist apiece to Jake Wigginton and Danny Harrison. Grace Cooper was presented with the Spirit of the Game award for the home team.
BULLDOGS’ head coach Andy Brown believes there is an abundance of young talent coming through in GB hockey – something made clear at a three-day camp held at Ice Sheffield last week.
Andy was down there in his role as assistant coach for the GB under-18s, one of several national age-group teams taking part, with over 200 youngsters attending.
The camp began on Thursday with two on-ice practices each for GB U18s Women and GB U16s Women, as well as off-ice activities, including strength and conditioning.
On Friday, the men’s GB Under-20s, Under-18s and Under-16s – including Bulldogs’ very own Gregor Mills – took to the ice twice, before all three sides returned the following day for their final sessions of the camp.
The youngsters also had gym fitness sessions at the nearby English Institute for Sport and there were also off-ice workshops.
In addition, GB Women’s captain Saffron Allen met with the youngsters on Thursday while GB Men’s forward Liam Kirk – who finished as joint-top goalscorer at the recent World Championships in Riga and last week agreed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with Arizona Coyotes – was the special guest on Friday.
Given how long it had been since some of the youngsters had been together due to the pandemic, Andy said he was impressed with the level of skill and effort produced throughout the camp, something which bodes well for next season’s hoped-for IIHF World Championship campaigns for the various GB teams – although dates and venues are yet to be confirmed by the governing body.
Because of the various lockdowns all over the world, no GB teams – other than the GB men’s team under Pete Russell – have been able to compete on the world stage since early 2020.
“The GB selection process is slightly different this year as we’ve been able to secure ice for two ‘identification camps’ to allow the coaches at each age group a chance to have a really good look at players before the trials start properly,” said Andy.
“It’s something we thought would be needed this year given the amount of time that some of the players have been off the ice due to the pandemic.
“I was surprised by the high standard shown at all age groups and it’s hopefully a great indicator that GB will be extremely competitive in the World championships next season.”
Today sees the Bulldogs back on the ice having been forced to sit on the sidelines for six months due to the lockdown brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.
After last week saw the green light finally given for Bradford Ice Arena to reopen its doors on Tuesday, Wednesday night sees the club’s various junior teams and the club’s senior players hit the ice for some long-awaited practice sessions.
The Under-9s will be first on the ice between 5.30-6.30pm, followed by the Under-11s who will get their hour from 6.45pm onwards.
The Under-13s return to training at 8pm with the Under-15s making the most of their 60-minute slot from 9.15pm before the seniors’ team round-off the evening with a late showing at 10.30pm.
Bradford Bulldogs head coach, Andy Brown
Head coach Andy Brown admitted it had been a long time in the making to get the club’s players back out on the ice, adding that he couldn’t wait to get started again.
“It’s been a frustrating time for everybody at the club,” said Andy. “Obviously, what has gone on over the last few months has been a horrible experience for many people and our hearts go out to those who have suffered.
“We’ve been busy at the rink getting the place ready for when we could start practising again and I know from speaking to parents, players, team managers and our coaches, that we’re all desperate just to get back out there again.”
The club returns to the ice heading straight into step 3 of the EIHA’s phased ‘Return to Play’ structure, although it will be a while yet before any actual games can be scheduled for teams at any age group.
In the meantime, players will be able to train on the ice in groups of up to 30, plus their coaches, with contact to be phased in over the next two-three weeks.
They will be able to work on strength and conditioning with coaches, cover technical and tactical aspects of the game, as well as return to developing their individual skills.
“It’s going to be great,” added Andy. “We’ve been able to keep in touch with people through social media and, in the case of some of the youngsters, some weekend off-ice sessions in recent weeks.
“But I’m just looking forward to getting back out on the ice with them all. It’s been too long and we’ve got a lot of lost time to make up for because we want to get back to having fun out on that ice pad.”
BULLDOGS’ head coach Andy Brown says he is delighted to move up to the position of assistant coach for Great Britain Under-18s.
The 42-year-old is one of two appointments to the team, with Richard Hartmann also being named as an assistant to head coach Sean Easton.
Bradford Bulldogs head coach, Andy Brown
Andy admitted he was saddened to move up from his role with the GB Under-16 team, while at the same time excited about the new challenges that now lie ahead of him in an environment he feels he will fit into well.
“I’m delighted to be asked to move up and assist with the Under-18s,” he said. “I know Sean well and feel our coaching styles complimented each other well when we worked together in the England programme.
“I’m obviously sad to leave the Under-16s as I feel we had a strong coaching unit, but I know the structure we put in place will hugely benefit the next crop of young players to come through.”
David Hand, chairman of the GB Programme Board, said: “We believe Sean, Richard and Andy will make a great coaching trio for the under-18s.
“Both Richard and Andy are already in the GB set-up and by moving them across to the Under-18s to work with Sean, we think we have a very strong trio of coaches.
“We have some fantastic talented youngsters and these three coaches are the right choice to take the programme forward.”