Local quartet representing Midlands
Junior Ice Hockey - UK Inter-Conference Tournament
Four local boys were involved in this tournament at Ice Sheffield at the beginning of May. Jake Hayward (from Daventry) and Josh Kelly (Long Lawford) both played for the Midlands Under 11 team, Rhodes Mitchell-King (Dunchurch) played for the Midlands Under 13 team and Austin Mitchell-King (also Dunchurch) for the Midlands Under 15 team.
Each team’s selection took place at many trial sessions between September and December – usually late on Saturday evenings at Nottingham. Since the final squads were announced in December/January there have been training sessions and European tournaments for each team culminating in the UK inter-Conference tournament against the Scotland, North, South East and South West teams in each age group.
Each team plays the other teams in their age group with the top two then competing in the final. This tournament is an important step in the elite player’s pathway to England and GB teams and the coaches and selectors were out in force observing all players throughout the 44 game programme over the three days.
All boys are members of Coventry Blaze Ice Hockey Academy who train and play at the Skydome in Coventry. Josh is in only his second season playing the game, Jake in his fifth and Rhodes and Austin in their sixth season.
For the Midlands at Under 11 level this was, for most of the players, their first experience of playing in front of such a large crowd but the team acquitted themselves well, finishing fourth. The Midlands Under 13 team rather under-achieved and were placed third. However, the Under 15 team reached their final undefeated with 3 wins and 1 draw.
In the final the score was 1-1 at full time and unchanged at the end of five minutes sudden death overtime so the game went to penalty shots where the Midlands failed to score, leaving them as runners-up to the South West. No local players were involved in the Midlands Under 17 team who won their final.
Austin earned two most valued player plaudits from the Premier TV commentators (all games were streamed live) and quite rightly was rewarded with one of the coveted six Under 15 All Stars shirts.
After the weekend’s activities the selectors have now issued invites to trial for next season’s international teams. Rhodes has been chosen to trial for the England Under 14 team and Austin for the GB Under 16 team, so another busy summer beckons for both of them.
If you are interested in playing or watching junior ice hockey at the Skydome further information is available on the Academy’s website: http://www.coventryblazeacademy.co.uk/ or on Twitter and Facebook. There are a couple of home tournaments in June, starting about 4pm, entrance to each is free, June 9th Under 9 and June 26th Under 15.