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Campbell: UK was so good I stayed

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

Derek Campbell is a player that perhaps will be remembered for the wrong reasons after receiving a huge 47-game ban for his part in an altercation with Dundee Stars’ Nico Sacchetti in 2013. It ultimately [Read more..]
'Derek Campbell is a player that perhaps will be remembered for the wrong reasons after receiving a huge 47-game ban for his part in an altercation with Dundee Stars’ Nico Sacchetti in 2013. It ultimately ended his career, but it’s perhaps forgotten that he’s managed the distinction of being one of the few players to have won two Elite League titles in consecutive years with two different clubs. We’ll look at what happened in that night in Hull back in 2013 that proved to be his last outing in professional ice hockey in the second part of this two-part feature interview. But first, Campbell spoke of how he came to the UK and how his career went from there. —- Derek Campbell recalls having a laugh to himself when he first came to these shores in 2006 to sign for Manchester Phoenix His view of life in Britain from where he came from in Nepean, Ontario in Canada was that of people smoking and reading their newspapers and that was exactly the sight that greeted him as he began a new adventure in his career. But, in a path that took him to Newcastle, Coventry, Hull and Sheffield (for Steelers and Steeldogs) via Sydney, Campbell remains proud of how much he enjoyed his adventure in this country in the Elite League and English Premier League. WATCH: Derek Campbell gets to grips with Kevin Bergin “My first impressions were it was everything I had imagined,” he said.  “When I first came, I was always under the impression it being in a culture of smoking and people reading newspapers and I remember laughing when I arrived at the airport. “The first I saw was people doing just that, of course, this was before the smoking ban came in. “Manchester were an expansion team when I played which was new with the new rink.  But playing with Tony Hand was amazing and he’s definitely the best player I played with. “The thing that attracted me to the UK when I first came over was the schools package I was offered and I knew England was a good gateway to the other leagues so it turned out I enjoyed the UK so much, I ended up staying and the rest is history.” Campbell’s year at Phoenix was followed by two at Newcastle Vipers, playing under Rob Wilson and where he met and played with his good friend, David Longstaff. In fact, he’s still based in Newcastle with his girlfriend and daughter and now runs four restaurants and a cocktail bar since hanging up the skates. But in 2010, he became a league winner after joining Coventry Blaze, their fourth in the Elite League era under Paul Thompson, but at this point, Campbell felt it was time for a change, making the move to Australia to do something different. While it was certainly that, the competitiveness was something he found hard to adjust to so when a phone call came in from England, it led to another medal. Derek Campbell won the league with two different teams in consecutive years, with Coventry Blaze in 2010 then Sheffield Steelers a year later (PHOTO: Mark Tredgold) He added: “Paul Thompson was the coach (at Coventry) where everything was top notch and the winning attitude really rubbed off.  We trained hard but had a lot of fun off the ice.  It was a really good feeling and a great team to play for. “Moving to Sydney was something I wanted to do.  We have just won in Coventry and I felt I had achieved what I wanted to and I had no aspirations to return to North America so I thought a career change would be suitable. “I went out there and had a great time, playing with some good guys and helped the team out.  There was a point where it just wasn’t for me. It was so far away, of course, but I felt that so near the middle of the summer out there, Sheffield called to say they wanted to sign me. “They were probably the biggest club in the UK at the time and it made me consider playing in the UK and when I heard the team they were putting together, it was the right move for me. “To come back the following year and play in Sheffield, they were a really talented team.  We were a team that found a way to win.  I was never the fighter or to go to guy for that kind of situation.  I protected when I needed to. “I was really happy and honoured to be in a position to win two championships in a row with two different teams.  Winning the league in the UK is tough to do and playing with Coventry first off, I was playing for an organisation that was the best I’d played with.” Check out part two tomorrow when Campbell talks about that infamous game against Dundee and his reflections on the incident that changed his life.'

Could overseas ice hockey impact the EIHL?

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

The EIHL will enter its 17th season when the puck drops in September. [Read more..]
'The EIHL will enter its 17 th season when the puck drops in September. Teams across the league are putting together their squads for the new season and expectations are high around the EIHL for another year of growth. Ice hockey fans can follow the EIHL’s action with the Mybookie promo code and wager on their favourite teams as they fight for the league championship. While the league continues to grow at a steady pace, one cannot help by feel threatened by possible invasions from hockey leagues outside of Great Britain. The NHL continues to eye countries in Europe and the KHL has even made attempts to move beyond its borders. Whether hockey fans follow the NHL or the EIHL, the Pinnacle VIP code gives them the chance to wager on their favorite team all season long.  Is the NHL good for British ice hockey? This year’s NHL Global Series will see games played in Sweden, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Switzerland. Each country has its own ice hockey league but fans will get to see NHL stars skate in the four Global Series games this autumn.  Like other top-level American sports such as the NFL, Major League Baseball, and NBA, the NHL aims to have a regular overseas calendar . Regardless of professional ice hockey leagues being located in countries around the globe already, the NHL is hungry and wants to infiltrate new borders to play games and expose fans to its product.  Russia’s KHL announced it would place an expansion team in London in 2017. The KHL sees itself as a rival to the NHL and wanted to colonize Great Britain before its American rival. A year after the KHL announced it would place a team in the English capital, the decision was “deferred” due to “increased risks” postponing expansion for now. A saturated hockey market Right now, there are only so many fans of ice hockey in Great Britain. This is shown by the attendances for EIHL games and the fact that many of the league’s players come from overseas. Any NHL or KHL team that plays games – or expands to Great Britain – will fight over the same fans until new ones can be made. With more ice hockey on offer, the market becomes saturated and fans may choose to follow the bigger, more established NHL rather than the EIHL. Of course, the NHL and KHL could have the opposite effect. New fans could be created thus influencing more people to watch live EIHL games. Will the NHL expand to London? If you follow any of the top four North American sports leagues, you will know there have been rumours of them expanding or relocating franchises to London.  The NFL has eyed London for some time and the possibility of a team sharing Tottenham Hotspurs’ new stadium is a possibility. The NBA seems to have scrapped ideas for now of any future expansion or games in London after last season. Major League Baseball recently had a successful series of games in London and the Wall Street Journal wrote that at least one team should explore relocating to the Big Smoke.  The NHL will welcome a Seattle franchise in 2021. London could be the next port of call once Seattle is in the league. A 40-team NHL has been talked about but European expansion would need such an event to happen.  If Great Britain did receive an expansion or relocated NHL team – such as the Florida Panthers – it would have a detrimental effect on the EIHL. At the very least, the league would be relegated to a lowly minor league status it may never be able to overcome.'

Living in the land down under

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

While most ice hockey players are glad to see the back of a long, arduous season by the time April comes around, they don’t want to start thinking about it again until at least June. [Read more..]
'While most ice hockey players are glad to see the back of a long, arduous season by the time April comes around, they don’t want to start thinking about it again until at least June. However, there are a few players that have made the move from the Elite League to play their summer in Australia or New Zealand to keep themselves ticking over, while at the same time, getting themselves ready for another campaign here. A few familiar faces to the Elite League are doing just that and as the seasons in both countries head for their climax, a couple of players who made those very moves are reflecting on their time down under. Manchester Storm defenceman Zach Sullivan and Bracknell Bees netminder Adam Goss have spent their summer in New Zealand with Canterbury Red Devils. The Devils have two games left, but are marooned at the bottom of the table, picking up only one win from their 14 games so far so in many respects, it’s a campaign to forget. For Sullivan and Goss, they’ve had a fabulous experience of a very different country to what they’re used to back home in the UK, especially at this time of year. The story of ‘Sully’s’ experience is an interesting one, admitting it was a move to help him rekindle his love for ice hockey after what he regarded as a personally difficult season at Glasgow Clan, despite the club enjoying great fortune on the ice. Sullivan says he went to New Zealand to rekindle his love for ice hockey (PHOTO: Kieran Fanning) And, despite Canterbury’s woes, it’s helped him achieve that and reinvigorated him before he reunites with former coach Ryan Finnerty in Manchester. “After a difficult season in Glasgow for me personally, I wanted to fall back in love with hockey again and I spoke to Ross Venus and Ciaran Long, who I know well and they spoke well of Canterbury and the club from their time there,” Sullivan said. “It seemed like the perfect fit for me to come here and find that love again.   Plus, being a bit of a geek, I’m a huge Lord of the Rings fan, coming out here to see where they filmed it allowed me to kill two birds with one stone. “My love for hockey seemed to fade over time, when you do something over and over every day and can   become something of a chore to the point we forget how lucky we are to do something we really love and get paid for it. “Plus we get opportunities to travel and see certain parts of the world like I have and you can lose the fun side of it.   I needed to be reminded of that and I’ve come to a place where I’m playing with a great bunch of players and they make it fun.” For Goss, who joined National League side Bracknell from Milton Keynes Lightning, where it was a frustrating time, sitting on the bench at a time when off the ice turmoil clouded what was a very disappointing season. His reasons are different to Sullivan’s in so far as he’s looking for the ice time after a season of warming the bench, plus feels he’s ready to kick on in his career. Adam Goss will be joining Bracknell Bees once his spell with Canterbury finishes (PHOTO: Kieran Fanning) But Goss highlighted the cost of being able to train at home compared to what he’s currently doing in New Zealand as a reason to prepare for 2019/2020 in a rather different way. He added: “It’s a beautiful country and we get to travel and see different things, plus playing hockey, it helps to keep us in tune during the off-season as well. “Zach and I are both at the stage in our careers where we’re looking to push on and develop further to help us go on to bigger and better things in the future.   It also gives us somewhere to play, because ice time is so expensive back home. “It’s the perfect opportunity to develop over the summer, gain more experience and travel so it’s a move that works well for us. “Playing for Canterbury is a lot of fun and much less intense than what’s it like in the Elite League.   It’s offence focussed which is good for me, as a goalie, as there are plenty of shots in every game.   It’s definitely much better than being in the gym all summer for hours.” On the face of it, the schedule seems to be far less intense than it would be in a regular season week in the UK, where it’s wall to wall training, video and systems. This allows the players the chance to make the most of a wonderful experience of seeing parts of the world they wouldn’t normally see. Liam Stewart is back in action after taking a year out and has 21 points from his 11 games for Skycity Stampede (PHOTO: James Allan/NZ Herald) “We train on Tuesday and Thursday nights and most days, I’ve been worked on a fitness programme ‘Gossy’ come up with so I’ve been doing that,” Sullivan said. “During the days, I’ve been on TripAdvisor and Yelp, looking at reviews for places to go and trying to visit anywhere and everywhere I can. “We have a couple of games at the weekend then it’s back to it.   I know ‘Gossy’ from the GB U20s so it’s nice to have someone out here I know that makes it a shared experience, coupled with the players out here, it really makes it a lot of fun. “They keep you right in terms of where to go and will often come with us as well. Goss added: “It’s a little less professional here than in the UK, which is not a criticism.   The fans are very supportive and we’ve met some fantastic people out here from top to bottom.   There’s just a little less pressure. “The travelling is the big thing I’ll take from the experience out here and I would recommend it to anyone who can get out here.   It’s a beautiful place and full of amazing people.” ELITE LEAGUE PLAYERS PAST AND PRESENT PLAYING DOWN UNDER THIS SUMMER AUSTRALIA: Paul Crowder (Sydney Ice Dogs) Tim Crowder (Sydney Ice Dogs) Grant Toulmin (Sydney Ice Dogs) Danick Gauthier (Sydney Bears) Trevor Gerling (Canberra Brave) Jordan Owens (Melbourne Mustangs) Maxine Langlier-Parent (Melbourne Mustangs coach) NEW ZEALAND: Liam Stewart (Skycity Stampede) Zach Sullivan (Canterbury Red Devils) Adam Goss (Canterbury Red Devils)'

Anthony Davis tried to recruit Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers in free agency but had no idea what would work with the enigmatic star

Ice hockey Business Insider UK

Anthony Davis wondered whether he was texting Kawhi Leonard too much while trying to recruit him in free agency.
'Anthony Davis tried to recruit Kawhi Leonard to the Los Angeles Lakers during free agency.But Davis said he didn’t know the best way to recruit Leonard and wondered whether he was texting him too much.Leonard’s free-agency process was a mystery to many in the NBA.Davis said the Lakers’ general manager, Rob Pelinka, ultimately solicited his opinion on the Lakers free-agent signings, calling him every 30 to 45 minutes as they moved to plan B after missing out on Leonard.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories . In a summer when many of the biggest NBA free agents landed contracts in the opening hours, Kawhi Leonard’s decision felt drawn out.Leonard’s landing spot in free agency was not known until early on July 6, six days after free agency began, when it was announced he would join the Los Angeles Clippers and bring Paul George with him.In the early days of free agency, Leonard was said to be deciding between the Toronto Raptors, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the Clippers, with each team going all out to recruit him.Read more: NBA free agency has exploded.Here are the biggest signings so far and the best remaining players.In an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols published Sunday, the new Lakers star Anthony Davis said he got in on recruiting Leonard but, like the rest of the NBA, had no idea whether his efforts were effective. “Kawhi’s not a big recruiter guy.That’s what I heard,” Davis told Nichols. “I would send him texts every now and then, and just, like, ‘Is this too much?'” Nichols laughed, saying nobody knew how to properly recruit Leonard and comparing it to dating. “You really don’t know,” Davis said.Ultimately, Leonard wanted to join the Clippers but wanted them to find a second star to join him.He reportedly recruited George from the Oklahoma City Thunder and persuaded him to ask the Thunder for a trade.A source close to George told ESPN that Leonard, despite being quiet and mysterious to much of the league, was a “hell of a recruiter.” Read more: Kawhi Leonard reportedly impressed NBA superstars with his free agency recruiting and ultimately planted the seeds for the Clippers big summer The Lakers had to move to plan B after missing out on Leonard.They split their cap space on several role players to fill out their roster: Danny Green, DeMarcus Cousins, JaVale McGee, Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rajon Rondo, and Quinn Cook.Davis told Nichols that early in free agency, the Lakers’ general manager, Rob Pelinka, called him every 30 to 45 minutes to solicit his opinions on different players.Davis said he even had to tell Pelinka to hold off on calling him while he went to the movies.Watch the full interview below: Read more: Kawhi Leonard turned down $39 million in an eyebrow-raising move that sets big stakes for the Clippers and free agency in 2021 NBA POWER RANKINGS: Where all 30 teams stand after a wild summer that shook up the league The Oklahoma City Thunder have hauled in a bounty of NBA draft picks through 3 trades, and now they’re set up for one of the wildest rebuilds in history WHERE ARE THEY NOW?The 2011-12 Oklahoma City Thunder, the NBA’s great ‘what-if’ team that featured 3 future MVPs . The post Anthony Davis tried to recruit Kawhi Leonard to the Lakers in free agency but had no idea what would work with the enigmatic star appeared first on Business Insider Nederland .'

Signings Update: Movement continues in busy weekend

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

While fans were topping up their tans in the beautiful weekend weather, Elite League clubs were topping their rosters as the new season begins to loom on the horizon. It’s been a busy four days [Read more..]
'While fans were topping up their tans in the beautiful weekend weather, Elite League clubs were topping their rosters as the new season begins to loom on the horizon. It’s been a busy four days with 11 players announced either coming in, leaving or staying put as fans start to get excited for another campaign. Glasgow Clan picked up two with the signings of winger Nolan LaPorte , who joins from Atlanta Gladiators in the ECHL just a couple of days after Mikael Lidhammar came in. And they made it three signings in four days with the confirmation that Mathieu Roy would come out of retirement to join former team-mate Zack Fitzgerald in Scotland. Roy spoke to British Ice Hockey about his decision to return, a year after ending his career with Sheffield Steelers and the role his old pal played in persuading him to reverse his decision. “Fitzy’s a great guy, and now that he’s a coach, he knows exactly what I can do which helped me a lot when it came to deciding,” he said. “He knows what I can do and it’s good to have a coach I can talk to.  He’s always been a positive guy and you need that in the locker room.  He’s going to do a great job and the passion he has can help win us games.” Welcome to Nottingham! https://t.co/uD64Q30o3F #BeTheRoar | #EIHL | #PanthersNation pic.twitter.com/TcnKUKK8Wo — The Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) July 15, 2019 The changes at Nottingham Panthers have kept coming with one leaving and one coming in and with defenceman Tommy Hughes ending his year in the UK to head to Hershey Bears. American forward Dylan Malmquist is inbound after finishing four years with the University of Notre Dame and a spell at the Minnesota Wild camp. And Panthers Director of Hockey Guillaume Doucet has high hopes for the latest addition to Tim Wallace’s team. “Dylan’s highly talented and has been much touted as a player who can make it big in Europe,” Doucet said. “He has good skills and is the pick of the crop from the University of Notre Dame, one of the top hockey colleges in the world.” “Tim and I have been watching the videos and we think Dylan will be a great fit for the kind of team we are putting together which will excite the Panthers’ army of fans.” At Sheffield Steelers, they completed their defensive lines with the signing of Aaron Brocklehurst from EHC Linz in Austria. The experienced 34-year-old has spent the last nine seasons playing in Finland, Germany and Austria and is the final piece of Aaron Fox’s blue line puzzle. Aaron Brocklehurst has completed the defensive lines for Sheffield Steelers (PHOTO: Courtesy of Sheffield Steelers) And Fox spoke of how Brocklehurst will fit in: “With this signing, I think we have six defencemen that can match up against any other six in this league. “We’ll try a few different combinations in practice, but think this will allow us to keep Ben (O’Connor) and Davey (Phillips) together to start the year.” Evan McGrath left the club announcing his retirement after spending his final year as a professional with the Steelers. Dundee Stars were another team that saw one in and one out as Charles Corcoran moved on to take up an opportunity in France with Lyon. But coming in is Canadian Colton Kroeker , who arrives from Mount Royal University, where he played last year and the 22-year-old is finally getting the chance to do something he’s always wanted to do. “I’ve always wanted to come and play in Europe and it’s going to be a challenge, but I am looking forward to it,” he told the Stars website. Manchester Storm began life after Mike Hammond when they moved to bring in Adam Hughesman , who ended his two-year stay in France with Bordeaux. #⃣5⃣1⃣ @JamiePhillips30 is coming pic.twitter.com/27zjFo56mz — Coventry Blaze (@covblazehockey) July 15, 2019 The 28-year-old helped the club to a sixth place in the regular season, but their play-off hopes were ended in the quarter final stage, with Hughesman contributing with 31 goals and 38 assists in 75 appearances in all competitions. Coventry Blaze also strengthened as they brought a goalie in with Jamie Phillips arriving from Reading Royals in the ECHL. Phillips will be reunited with Matt Pohlkamp, who made the move last week and replaces Matt Hackett, who ended his short term spell with the Blaze earlier this summer. Blaze head coach Danny Stewart revealed they wanted to be patient to fill the spot between the pipes and he’s pleased at what he has. He told the Blaze website: “We sure have been patient in finding the right fit for us, and we couldn’t be happier. “Jamie is a fantastic goalie who has had success at every level he’s played. He’s a competitor, a true professional who will give us a chance to win every night and fits exactly what we wanted.” Finally, only one player stayed put as Fife Flyers announced the return of Danick Gauthier, who will return for his third season once he completes a stint in Australia with Sydney Bears.'

King Roy back to conquer Glasgow

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

Mathieu Roy says he was ready to return to ice hockey the day after hanging up his skates as he gets ready for his Elite League return. The 32-year-old signalled the end of his career [Read more..]
'Mathieu Roy says he was ready to return to ice hockey the day after hanging up his skates as he gets ready for his Elite League return. The 32-year-old signalled the end of his career last year after four years with Sheffield Steelers, where he picked up two league championship medals and a play-off crown. But now he’s preparing for a campaign with Glasgow Clan following his hiatus and thanks to the persuasiveness of Clan head coach – and former Steelers team-mate Zack Fitzgerald – the man known as ‘The King’ is looking forward to ruling the roost in Glasgow. “Fitzy’s a great guy, and now that he’s a coach, he knows exactly what I can do which helped me a lot when it came to deciding,” he said. “He knows what I can do and it’s good to have a coach I can talk to.   He’s always been a positive guy and you need that in the locker room.   He’s going to do a great job and the passion he has can help win us games. “I missed it a lot and every day I was on the websites finding out the latest and I’m ready to go again.   I would say I’ve been ready since the day after I retired, but I’ve been training for it and I can’t wait.” Roy first came to these shores in 2014 after five years with Florida Everblades, with whom he won a Kelly Cup in 2012. Roy spent four years at Sheffield Steelers, winning two league titles with them (PHOTO: Dean Woolley) Gerad Adams was the Steelers coach who signed him as Steelers won the first of two consecutive titles, ironically beating then Braehead Clan to the top spot by a point. A year later, Roy and his team were celebrating again under Paul Thompson with another title as his popularity with the Steelers support grew. In his four years, he made 260 appearances and racked up impressive numbers, scoring 143 goals   and making 147 assists, totalling 290 points. And he explained why a return to the UK was preferable to him and in particular, Glasgow Clan, taking away the fact his old pal is the coach. He added: “Glasgow Clan was always a place I was looking to play.   I know there’s a good team there with a chance to win a championship so that was why I chose to move there, plus I played with Matt Beca and Scott Pitt in Florida too so it’ll be great to see them on the same team again. “It’s a great arena and the players we have are good, so I think ‘Fitzy’ and the organisation have done a great job.   It’s a difference challenge and I can’t wait to get started.” “My wife and I loved it in the UK and it was important for us to bring our young daughter to sample the life there and what it was like for us. “Everyone will know what kind of player and if I’m not able to score, I’ll be there to block shots, but my job is to score and that’s what I want to do in bringing the offence for the Clan.”'

Signings Update: Faces old and new sign up for Elite League

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

The new season is a matter of weeks away now and the teams are filling their roster spots, with Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers at the forefront of the recruitment drives. Arguably, the biggest one [Read more..]
'The new season is a matter of weeks away now and the teams are filling their roster spots, with Cardiff Devils and Nottingham Panthers at the forefront of the recruitment drives. Arguably, the biggest one since we last came to you was the move of former Belfast Giants captain Blair Riley, who was announced as joining Cardiff Devils, along with four other players , one of which a new addition. Riley spoke to British Ice Hockey about his move and is already anticipating the reaction he’ll get from the Giants fans when he returns there in the Devils uniform. He said: “The reaction to my move is not something I’m surprised by to be honest and I don’t take it personally.  There are things people say on social media that’s entertaining for me and it makes it enjoyable. “It also shows people care and I look forward to the response I’ll get when I go back to the SSE Arena.  I made a lot of good friends too of course on and off the ice so it’ll be fun when I return there.” Joining him in South Wales is Finnish forward Masi Marjamaki, who joins from Czech Republic side Pirati Chomutov and a player with KHL experience with Jokerit. Devils also announced the return of Matthew Myers for what will be his testimonial year, as well as Matt Pope and Stephen Dixon back for another campaign in the Elite League. Laipni lūdzam Nottingham! https://t.co/SYeBNwOjEe #BeTheRoar | #EIHL | #PanthersNation pic.twitter.com/T8Xa63C3d7 — The Nottingham Panthers (@PanthersIHC) July 6, 2019 Going the other way is Mike Hedden, who ended his stay in Cardiff after a season to move to Allen Americans in the ECHL. Nottingham Panthers have been active with new and old players virtually passing each other by at the door as Tim Wallace shapes his team for the new season. American D-man Danny Fick was first to arrive, joining from ECHL side Wheeling Nailers, following by Swede Adam Deutsch , signing from SHL side IF Brynäs. Winger Sam Herr was next to arrive, making the switch from Ontario Reign in the AHL while Wallace was reunited with Latvian forward Georgs Golovkovs , who played for him at Milton Keynes Lightning last season. Going the other way are Dylan Olsen, who has agreed to a move to Slovakia to join HK Nitra, forward Luke Pither is off to Germany to join Pete Russell’s Freiburg and Kevin Henderson announced his retirement. One curious departure is that of GB forward Robert Farmer, who moves on after five years to an as yet unknown destination, but it’s rumoured he could try his hand in Europe. In Sheffield, following on from the signing of Russian forward Nikolai Lemtyugiv, coach Aaron Fox bolstered his defensive line with the signing of James Bettauer from DEL side Krefeld Pinguine. However, they bid farewell to Josh Pitt, who went to Hungary to sign for MAC Budapest, who will play the Steelers in a pre-season game next month. Belfast have lost Blair Riley and David Rutherford, but have brought in Matt Pelech (PHOTO: Courtesy of Belfast Giants) There was one in and two out in Belfast since we last spoke as life after Riley began in Northern Ireland. David Rutherford became the eighth player to leave last season’s championship winning side, taking up an offer to play in France with Lyon. But Matt Pelech is coming in from Villacher, the Austrian side who play in EBEL and has experience in the NHL, AHL and in Germany in the DEL. And head coach Adam Keefe reckons his new man will be a popular one among the Giants’ faithful. He said: “Matt is a natural leader who is excited to be a part of the defence of the Elite League and Challenge Cup championships. He will bring quality and toughness to our blueline as well as experience to the locker room. Giants fans are going to love watching Matt in action.” In our last round-up, Coventry Blaze announced the arrival of Chris Pohlkamp.  The good news for Blaze and Pohlkamp is his brother, Matt will be joining him at the Skydome. The forward joins from Reading Royals in the ECHL and revealed his interest in coming to the UK peaked when his brother had committed to Danny Stewart’s side and fancied it himself. Matt Pohlkamp is joining his brother, Chris at Coventry Blaze this season (PHOTO: Reading Royals) He told the Blaze website: “When my brother Chris signed, I was looking for a place to play in Europe. Once he had signed with Coventry it sparked my interested into looking to play in the UK and the possibility of playing with him. “I had a great conversation with coach Danny Stewart and loved everything he had to say about the Coventry Blaze organisation and the city.” One player returning to the UK after a year away is winger Mikael Lidhammar , who has signed for Glasgow Clan following a year in Romania with Corona Brasov. The 31-year-old previously played for Guildford Flames and Dundee Stars, with whom he reached the play-off finals weekend in 2017 under Marc LeFebvre. Speaking of Dundee, two of their players from last season have decided to move on, with Fabrizio Ricci going to Wichita Thunder while Francois Bouchard is off to LNAH side Petroliers du Nord. Fife Flyers also saw their defenceman Ricards Birzins return home to Latvia to take up an offer with HK Kurbads after spending the last two seasons in Scotland. Manchester Storm were also dealt a blow when GB forward Mike Hammond, who was the national team’s top scorer in the World Championships in May, ended his three-year stay in the UK to join DEL2 side Lausitzer Füchse, coached by Corey Neilson. While one top GB performer seeks pastures new, one is staying as Guildford Flames confirmed that Ben Davies , who scored that memorable winning goal against France to secure survival, is returning for his third season. The news of Davies’ return came days after Jordan Abt decided he was sticking around for Paul Dixon’s team as well, making it with Davies’ return, 14 players staying at the Spectrum.'

The Monday After: What has become of the Challenge Cup?

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

It’s been about a week since the format for the Challenge Cup for the new season and to be honest, I’m at a loss as to what has happened to the competition. In case you [Read more..]
'It’s been about a week since the format for the Challenge Cup for the new season and to be honest, I’m at a loss as to what has happened to the competition. In case you did miss it, we had confirmation that the ten Elite League teams will compete for it, with Milton Keynes Lightning no longer in the league. Like previous years, there’s a group stage, quarter final, semi final and of course, a final which will take place in Cardiff’s Viola Arena, taking place on 8th March 2020. The group stage sees three groups, one of four and two of three with Belfast Giants, Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan all making up Group A. Group B comprises of Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze and Guildford Flames, while Group C has Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers. The four-team group will play each other once at home and once away – six games. The two three-team groups play each other twice home and twice away.   That’s eight games. From those ten teams, eight will reach the quarter final, with the four team group seeing three go through while the two smaller groups have the top two from each progress. Jordan Smotherman scores the goal that wins the Challenge Cup for Belfast Giants (PHOTO: David Williams) Then the two bottom teams will play off in a one-off game to decide the eighth and final quarter finalist.   Yes, you read that right. So teams in the three team groups not good enough to qualify automatically after eight games get a ninth game to try and go through, while the team with only six games to play doesn’t.   Hmmm. By not having a third opponent, you’re compensated with two more games, but can still gain a lifeline to the knockout stage if you end up bottom.   In fact, you could lose all eight games, turn up for the ‘play-in round’ game, win that and you’re through.   Where is the sense in that? The three group winners will be seeded for the draw (in order of group stage win percentage) and have the option to pick their quarter final opponents from the remaining five teams. Group winners will have home ice advantage in the return leg (subject to ice availability). In the fourth quarter final, the team with the higher win percentage from the group stage will have home ice advantage in the return leg. That’s before you even get to the ‘Pick your Opponent’ concept of the ‘draw’ which has amazed and entertained and not always in the way you think. The thing is, where do we even start with this?   It’s become an unnecessary mess that the concept of just playing a simple tournament is long gone. Countdown’s Rachel Riley could be on speed dial to help sort out the ‘win percentage’ stat for seedings (PHOTO: Channel 4) With ten teams, the notion of squeezing them down to eight is laughable.   Sure, the extra fixture can help clubs make five figure sums by getting there, but is it really necessary for a last eight stage now? What would have been so wrong to have had two groups of five, play each other twice home and away and the top two (or four if you really, really have to have a quarter final) qualify? Then – and this is where it gets wacky – top of Group A play fourth in Group B, second in A versus third in B and so on.   Is that so difficult? It doesn’t need seedings or GMs and coaches to put their heads together and pick who they would prefer to play.   You finish in a certain position in the group and you see who you get in the next round once the group stage finishes.   It’s already pre-determined and so much  easier. By trying to make the competition more exciting and have everyone battling for seedings, it’s actually made it far more complicated than it needs to be, with the use of win percentages.   Even Countdown’s Rachel Riley would shrug her shoulders. While it can be accepted into argument financial implications for teams and which group they play in, there’s got to be a better way than how this was devised.   Should the group stages be drawn fresh every year for example? On the ice will care of itself and whatever will be, will be of course, but come 9th November – when the groups are scheduled to finish, are we going to sitting trying to figure out higher win percentages?   Let the cards fall and see where we are by the end. But keep those calculators handy, just in case.'

Devils the only team for Riley

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

New Cardiff Devils forward Blair Riley said Andrew Lord’s team were the only one he would have moved to in the Elite League. The 33-year-old left Belfast Giants, where he won two Challenge Cups and [Read more..]
'New Cardiff Devils forward Blair Riley said Andrew Lord’s team were the only one he would have moved to in the Elite League. The 33-year-old left Belfast Giants, where he won two Challenge Cups and a league title to join the team expected to be their main challengers next season. And he revealed he felt the time was right for him to move on after a successful three years in Northern Ireland, where he also captained the club. “When the offer was made to me, it was the only team in the Elite League I would have moved over to,” he said.   “They run a good organisation and are competitive. “‘Lordo’ and Todd Kelman reached out to me some time after the season ended and they sold me on what they were looking to do and it felt right to me so I’m looking forward to the challenge. “I don’t think it’s sunk in yet.   It’ll probably only really become real once I get over there and get settled into the city and see my new team-mates. At the same time, it’s exciting, it’s new and something for me to look forward to. Well I guess it’s time for a profile update .thanks for the warm welcome @cardiffdevils fans, the best wishes and farewells from @BelfastGiants fans and even the hate messages from some.If the fans weren’t passionate about their teams this game wouldn’t be nearly as fun — Blair Riley (@Briles25) July 7, 2019 “It just felt like time to make a change after having three phenomenal years in Belfast and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about that organisation. “I also had three great years with Keefe too – one as a player and the last two where he was my coach so it was all about deciding to do and go somewhere else.” Riley’s move is one that’s naturally excited the Devils fans in the same way it’s frustrated the Giants, who is the eighth player to leave the championship winning side since April. He’s already anticipating the sort of reaction he’ll get when he does return to the SSE Arena this season and insists some of the flack he’s taken online by fans is not being taken personally. But he spoke of what impressed him about the Devils after three years of competing with them for the major honours as an opposition player. Riley helped deliver a league title to Belfast last season (PHOTO: William Cherry/Press Eye) He added: “The first thing that stood out for me playing against the Devils in the last three years was the compete level.   The two teams went at last year for the league title and they had a team that played hard and stuck to a system. “They tended to recruit a lot of talented players and have a good nucleus of guys that have been there for a few years now, winning things. “But I’ve known all along just how passionate a fan base the Giants fans are and it was fun to play there and win. “It was difficult when we weren’t having success and the fans expect to win.   We celebrated the big moments, but got criticised by the negative things.   That’s just what happens. “The reaction to my move is not something I’m surprised by to be honest and I don’t take it personally.   There are things people say on social media that’s entertaining for me and it makes it enjoyable. “It also shows people care and I look forward to the response I’ll get when I go back to the SSE Arena.   I made a lot of good friends too of course on and off the ice so it’ll be fun when I return there.”'

Lemtyugov signs on for Steelers

Ice hockey British Ice Hockey

Sheffield Steelers have confirmed that Russian forward Nikolai Lemtyugov has signed for the club, as exclusively revealed by British Ice Hockey two weeks ago. The 33-year-old winger becomes the club’s first Russian player after agreeing [Read
'Sheffield Steelers have confirmed that Russian forward Nikolai Lemtyugov has signed for the club, as exclusively revealed by British Ice Hockey two weeks ago. The 33-year-old winger becomes the club’s first Russian player after agreeing to the come to the UK over any possible interest from the KHL. And Steelers coach Aaron Fox knows all about him having coached him in Croatia with EBEL side Medvescak Zagreb last season. “I had him for a while with me last year and you could see his talent level was at another level and that was after missing extended time because of injury,” the Steelers boss said. “He has had a full off-season working out and will come to camp in top shape ready to go.  He played quite a few games with John Armstrong last year so it’s nice to have someone he knows here as well.” As we revealed, Lemtyugov has over 400 games of experience in the KHL, between regular season and play-off games, along with just under 100 games in the AHL, playing with Peoria Rivermen. John Armstrong will reunite with his former Zagreb team-mate (PHOTO: Dean Woolley) He spent last season with Zagreb to start with before seeing out the campaign in South Korea with Anyang Halla in the Asian League. The signing is another major statement as Sheffield look to get themselves back among the top places, having finished mid-table last season. And Fox spoke of what his former winger will bring to his new club when the season begins next month. He added: “Nikolai is a high end power forward who is extremely skilled and I expect to be a game changer for us. “He can play a physical game when needed and is really strong on pucks in ozone.  He can play both wing positions and is also really good on the powerplay.   “His English is good enough and has great character in the dressing room.   We actually signed him a few weeks ago, but with a KHL out clause, which has now passed, he is 100% committed to the Steelers.”'

The Nets are reportedly landing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a free agency grand slam

Ice hockey Business Insider UK

The Nets beat out the Knicks, Warriors, Clippers, and Lakers to land two of the most coveted free agents in NBA history.
'The Brooklyn Nets will sign both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in free agency, according to reports.The Nets had reportedly secured an agreement from Irving, and in the hours leading up to free agency, landed Durant.The signings are a major win for the Nets, and a big turn of events, as the New York Knicks, for much of the 2018-19 season, had been the favorites to land both players.Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.The Brooklyn Nets will reportedly be among the big winners in NBA free agency.According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski , Kevin Durant will sign with the Nets once free agency begins.According to numerous reports, the Nets also secured an agreement from Kyrie Irving.According to Wojnarowski, Durant will sign a four-year, $161 million contract and Irving will sign a four-year, $141 million contract.The signings represent a major win for the Nets.Rumors all season long suggested the New York Knicks were the favorites to sign Durant and Irving.However, in recent weeks, reports indicated that the Nets were the favorites to land Irving.In the hours leading up to free agency, which officially begins at 6 P.M.ET on June 30, the Nets emerged as the favorites to land Durant.The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that there was “an undeniable vibe of confidence” from the Nets that they would land both Irving and Durant.Durant is expected to miss the entire 2019-20 season with a torn Achilles.Reports leading up to free agency indicated that his market wasn’t affected by the injury.According to reports, the Nets had some trepidation about signing Irving if Durant did not follow him.The Nets also had D’Angelo Russell, a 23-year-old, first-time All-Star, and some within the NBA world felt that re-signing Russell, at a lower price and younger age, would be a better move over only landing Irving.However, the Nets renounced the rights to Russell, making him an unrestricted free agent, as they grew closer to landing Irving.The Nets’ free agency haul represent a major turnaround after the disastrous 2013 trade with the Boston Celtics.The Nets now boast one of the league’s most talented tandems in Durant and Irving, plus a sound infrastructure of players, including Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Rodions Kurucs.Several of the NBA’s biggest free agents have already reportedly found homes, with Kemba Walker reportedly signing with the Celtics, Klay Thompson re-signing with the Golden State Warriors, and All-Star center Nikola Vucevic re-signing with the Orlando Magic.Read more: The 2019 NBA free agent class is stacked and has the potential to alter the league – here are the best players available Two of the best NBA prospects in recent years have fallen to the Nuggets over injury concerns, and it could be a huge win for one of the league’s best teams The biggest sports story the year you were born . The post The Nets are reportedly landing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a free agency grand slam appeared first on Business Insider Nederland .'