We go again! Cardiff Fun Bus details!





First of all thanks for support, well wishes and fantastic feedback, its genuinely appreciated, and I know the players and coach also feel the same way.

Please check the below and ensure I have the correct details.  Any issues, please let me know asap.  You can do this by DM on Twitter, leave a comment on here, call me on 07792 749 804 or email rob@drplogistics.co.uk.

Booking is now closed, we go with 3 full coaches – 150 Blaze fans.

Cost is £30 with match ticket per Adult, and £20 for Under 16s

Coach only is £15 for Adults, £10 for Under 16s

Please pay cash on the day, and try and have the right amount ready please, that’s a big help.  Everything is paid for, Coaches, Tickets and Food at Cardiff’s Arena.

There will be a selection of beers on the buses, these are complimentary, please enjoy, but drink wisely and make sure everyone that wants one has one!

There will not be soft drinks provided, so bring those yourselves if you want one.

We have three coaches, which will be numbered, 1, 2 and 3.  On your envelope with your tickets it will have on what number coach you are on.  Nice and easy.

Please note the coaches are full. Therefore please don’t double up with seats, we just haven’t got the space.  Also, for varying reasons I have reserved some coach seats, please respect this, there is a reason for this.

Also, please, please sit in the seat number on your match ticket, the place is going to be a complete sell out, so you need to sit where you seat dictates.

Sorry if I sound like a school teacher, which in reading back I do, but we need to be organised to get away on time.

Again, thanks for the support, and lets go Blaze!



FROM (please be early if you can)12:00 Please arrive at Crosbys, come and tell us you are here, pay your money, collect your match tickets and find out if you are on Coach 1, 2 or 3.  Please arrive register before 12:30, we have 150 people to get through.

Please obviously also register if you are “Coach only” – I still need to collect your money!

12:45: Board Coaches

13:00: Leave Skydome

13:00 -15:30 Sing, drink, eat, chant, play games, get locked in the toilet, all the normal stuff

15:30: Arrive IAW, head for a private bar facility within the Arena for a beer / whatever takes your fancy.  Alternatively you can go into Cardiff Bay if you prefer – completely your choice.

15:45: Complimentary chips served in the bar facility.

16:30: Bar opens to the public – it holds 300 plus so plenty of room still.

17:20: Warm up begins.

18:00: Game starts – praying is optional.

20:30: Game ends – make our way back to the same coach you came on.

21:00: Depart Cardiff.

23:30: Arrive Skydome

Who is going to Cardiff?

1 Rob Plaister – Coach Number 1 – Please sit on back seats
2 Craig Summerton – 1 – Please sit on back seats
3 Laura Fellows – 1 – Please sit on back seats
4 Scott Findlay – 1
5 Amanda Farren – 1
6 Alex Thompson – 1 – Please sit on back seats
7 Sam Lewis – 1
8 Sam Lewis – 1
9 Sam Lewis – 1
10 Sam Lewis -1
11 Sam Lewis – 1
12 Sam Lewis – 1
13 Sam Lewis – 1
14 Sam Lewis – 1
15 Sam Lewis – 1
16 Sam Lewis – 1
17 Sam Lewis – 1
18 Sam Lewis – 1
19 Sam Lewis – 1
20 Sam Lewis – 1
21 Sam Lewis – 1
22 Sam Lewis – 1
23 Sam Lewis – 1
24 Sophie Lunn – 1
25 Sophie Lunn – 1
26 Sophie Lunn – 1
27 Sophie Lunn – 1
28 Ed Kimberly – 2
29 Rachel Clarke – 2
30 Rachel Clarke – 2
31 Helen Pegler – 1
32 Helen Pegler – 1
33 Helen Pegler – 1
34 Helen Pegler – 1
35 Helen Pegler – 1
36 Helen Pegler – 1
37 Jason Woodfield – 2
38 Jason Woodfield – 2
39 Jason Woodfield – 2
40 Amber Carver-Smith – 2
41 Amber Carver-Smith – 2
42 Sue Gilbert – 2
43 Sue Gilbert – 2
44 Sue Gilbert – 2
45 Elliot Haynes Sorrell – 2
46 Elliot Haynes Sorrell – 2
47 Megan Hackett – 1
48 Megan Hackett – 1
49 Sue Burton – 3
50 Sue Burton – 3
51 Kyle Sutton – 1
52 Gary Simpson – 2 – Please sit on back seats
53 John Nicholson – 3 – Please sit on back seats
54 John Nicholson – 3 – Please sit on back seats
55 Martin Large – 2
56 Martin Large – 2
57 Debbie Cross – 3
58 Debbie Cross – 3
59 Debbie Cross – 3
60 Debbie Cross – 3
61 Alison Jeffery – 3
62 Alison Jeffery – 3
63 Alison Jeffery – 3
64 Jade Thompson – 3
65 Jade Thompson – 3
66 Jade Thompson – 3
67 Simon Burgess – 2
68 Simon Burgess – 2
69 Ken Shaw – 2
70 Ken Shaw – 2
71 Gary Simpson – 2 – Please sit on back seats
72 Gary Simpson – 2 – Please sit on back seats
73 Gary Simpson – 2 – Please sit on back seats
74 Remy Taylor – 3 – Please sit on back seats
75 Remy Taylor – 3 – Please sit on back seats
76 Remy Taylor – 3 – Please sit on back seats
77 Ian Meaton – 3
78 Ian Meaton – 3
79 Sarah Matterson – 3
80 Sarah Matterson – 3
81 Sarah Matterson – 3
82 Emma Eastwood – 3
83 Emma Eastwood – 3
84 Holly – 2
85 Nigel – 2
86 Thomas Sherriff – 2
87 Jack Turnbull – 3
88 Jack Turnbull – 3
89 Nik Stroganov – 1
90 Nik Stroganov – 1
91 Keith Wright – 2
92 Beryl Lawson – 2 – Front seat reserved
93 Rachel Holden – 1 – Front seat reserved
94 Rachel Holden – 1 – Front seat reserved
95 Rachel Holden – 1 – Front seat reserved
96 Rachel Holden – 1 – Front seat reserved
97 Rachel Holden – 1
98 Rachel Holden – 1
99 Martin Batt – 3
100 Martin Batt – 3
101 Heather Urquhart – 3
102 Heather Urquhart – 3
103 Gary Simpson – 2 – Please sit on back seats
104 Kayleigh Warden – 3
105 Kayleigh Warden – 3
106 Kayleigh Warden – 3
107 Fliss Lloyd – 2 – Front seat reserved
108 Helen Pegler – 1
109 Helen Pegler – 1
110 Anthony Barnes – 3
111 Anthony Barnes – 3
112 Jason Collins – 1
113 Tallis Collins – 1
114 Chris Dove -3
115 Nick Upton – 3
116 Nick Upton – 3
117 Kayleigh Warden – 3
118 Kayleigh Warden – 3
119 Nigel Plowman – 2
120 Richard Merkel – 1
121 Richard Merkel – 1
122 Richard Merkel – 1
123 Jo Humphrey – 2
124 Jo Humphrey – 2
125 Alison Bennett – 2
126 Alison Bennett – 2
127 Mike Meachem – 2
128 Mike Meachem – 2
129 Mike Meachem – 2
130 Callum Price – 2
131 Callum Price – 2
132 Cheri Herbert – 2
133 Cheri Herbert – 2
134 Sophie Rushton – 3
135 Sophie Rushton – 3
136 Peejay – driver
137 Harry Taylor – 3
138 Harry Taylor – 3
139 Gordon Goode – 3
140 Gordon Goode – 3
141 Gordon Goode – 3
142 Jacqui Cremins – 2
143 Michael Mozer – 3
144 Claudia Beaumont – 2
145 Jacqui Cremins – 2
146 Jade Thompson – 3
147 Kennedy Hayden – 2
148 Kennedy Hayden – 2
149 Mel Beaumont – 2
150 Sean Marin – 3


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“Fun bus details!”

pexels-photo-319960.jpegFirst of all thanks for everyone who has booked for the coaches on Saturday, great effort, and I am sure we will all have a great day.

Some questions to answer, so here we go

What time will we leave?  Coaches depart at 2.30pm on the dot.

Where do we meet? Please congregate outside Crosbys.  Fingers crossed the weather will be kinder than it is right now.

What time should we meet? Please try and get there for 2pm.  Later in the week, when the numbers are finalised, I will publish lists of who is on what coach.  There will be 2 coaches, a Birmingham International Coach, and a Boudens Coach.  Please don’t get on the coaches before checking in with me, so I know you are here.

When do I pay? Not sure if I will take money on the coach, before we all get on the coach or once we get to Manchester, I will have a think and let you all know.  Please bring cash, and if you can have the right money that would be a massive help

Where are we stopping off? Part of the ticket deal with Manchester Storm is that we will go directly to The Station Pub in Altrincham.  We have a private room booked upstairs.  Its a couple of minutes walk to the rink from there, but you are free to do whatever you want once we get there.  There is no pressure to stay there at all.

Food? Yes, all being well there will be Pizza’s at The Station.  We are still confirming how this will work, and the thought of  feeding 100 hungry Blaze fans fills me with dread, but we will work it out I am sure!

What time will we come back? As soon as the game ends, clap the guys off the ice as usual and head back to your coach please. There wont be time for a post match drink, so bring some with you for the journey back if that’s your thing.

Am I on your list? Now this is the most important bit!  As people book at all sorts of strange times of the day, and by different methods, there is a chance you may have been missed, so if you are not on the list, please let me know.  Also, if you have changed your booking, double check its right for me please.  If your name has a strange word next to it, don’t worry, the important thing is that your name and numbers are correct.  Apologies if your name is spelt incorrectly.  If there is anything wrong here, just let me know asap please.

1 Rob Plaister
2 Laura Fellows
3 Craig Summerton
4 Sam Lewis
5 Sam Lewis
6 Sam Lewis
7 Sam Lewis
8 Sam Lewis
9 Sam Lewis
10 Sam Lewis
11 Sam Lewis
12 Sam Lewis
13 Sam Lewis
14 Sam Lewis
15 Sam Lewis
16 Sam Lewis
17 Sam Lewis
18 Chris Dove
19 Child Richard Badham
20 Richard Badham
21 Richard Badham
22 Child Richard Badham
23 Chloe Bowen
24 Chloe Bowen
25 Child Chloe Bowen
26 Amber Carver Smith
27 Amber Carver Smith
28 Leigh Carver Smith
29 Leigh Carver Smith
30 Megan Hackett
31 Megan Hackett
32 Megan Hackett
33 Megan Hackett
34 Dee Langford (Front Aisle Seat Left Side)
35 Nigel Emmett 1
36 Sophie Lunn
37 Sophie Lunn
38 Sophie Lunn
39 Sophie Lunn
40 Heather Urquhart
41 Heather Urquhart
42 Richard Merkel
43 Richard Merkel
44 Child Richard Merkel
45 Keith Wright
46 Beryl Lawson – behind DL
47 Beryl Lawson – behind DL
48 Holli Clarke
49 Holli Clarke
50 Holli Clarke
51 Ian Meaton
52 Child Mille Meaton
53 Nik Stroganov
54 Emma Eastwood
55 Emma Eastwood
56 Sue Gilbert
57 Sue Gilbert
58 Jason Woodfield
59 Jason Woodfield
60 Lois
61 Lois
62 Remy – DC
63 Remy – DL
64 Emma Eastwood – 2nd
65 Emma Eastwood – 2nd
66 Steve Thomas
67 William Matterson
68 Child Lorrence Matterson
69 Ami Louise Tarry
70 Ami Louise Tarry
71 Child Ami Louise Tarry
72 Briony Hockton
73 Briony Hockton
75 Steve Coulston
76 Michael Fitzpatrick
77 Child Coach Kevin
78 Coach Kevin
79 Coach Kevin
80 Coach Kevin
81 Coach Kevin
82 Amy Roberts
83 Amy Roberts
84 Coach Kevin
85 Adam Gurney
86 Adam Gurney
87 Nigel Emmett 2nd person
88 Coach Kevin – 2nd booking
89 Coach Kevin – 2nd booking
90 Mark Burbury
91 Mark Burbury
92 Mark Burbury
93 Child Mark Burbury
94 Sam Leach
95 Sam Leach
96 Alice Murphy
97 Alice Murphy
98 Chloe Bowen – 4th person
99 Heather Price – EE
100 Fliss Lloyd (Front seat next to Dee)


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Former Blaze coach Weber moves on to his next challenge…

Chuck Weber famously took the Coventry Blaze to two play off Championship finals in his one and half year tenure with the club.  Known for his extensive knowledge of the game, and exact attention to detail, the 44 year old left a lasting impression with not just Coventry Blaze fans but the Elite League in general.

After leaving the Blaze, Weber accepted the role of Assistant Coach with the Rochester Americans of the American Hockey League a team he was the Head Coach with back in 2010-11.


However it wasn’t to be a fairy tale reunion, the ‘Amerk’s’ failing to make the play offs for the third consecutive term finishing with a disappointing 0.441 PCT after struggling with a bitter run of injuries throughout the season.

On June 30th it was announced that former player and assistant coach Chris Taylor would be taking over from Dan Lambert as Head Coach of the Americans.  This in turn led to assistant coach Weber seeking ‘new opportunities’.

Today, the new opportunity is confirmed with Chuck Weber back as a Head Coach with the Atlanta Gladiators.  The Gladiators, formed only in 2003, announced back in 2015 a two year affiliation with the Boston Bruins of the NHL and the Providence Bruins of the AHL.  A deal that was extended in February this year for a further two seasons.

The Gladiators will prove to be a formidable challenge to the American coach.  They last qualified for the play offs way back in 2012-13, and with just 27 wins in 72 regulation season games last season, the only way is up for the new Head Coach born a just few miles from the Niagara Falls.


Of interest to Elite League fans maybe, and certainly to ones in Glasgow is that Weber immediately inherits a former EIHL player in 26 year old Cody Carlson, the ex Braehead Clan D man who scored 15 points last season, signed with the Gladiators in mid July.

Former Gladiators players also include Sheffield forward Colton Fretter who sits second in the all time points per game for the franchise with 1.321, and also former Steeler favorite Guillaume Desbiens who notably scored 33 goals for the Gladiators in season 2005-2006.  Other notable former Gladiator players with EIHL links include Jeff Mason, Michael Forney and Matt Francis.

So, the next challenge for this two time Kelly Cup winning Coach is laid down in front of him.  It is one he will relish. Weber is hugely ambitious but also a modest, humble man and after working his way up from being a ticket seller in the back office, to coaching in both the AHL and KHL, this may just be exactly what he needs to set him on his way to the bright lights of the show.

Good luck, Coach.

Chuck Weber, discussing the road to Coventry.




Over? It hasn’t even started yet!

Not over, not over, not over yet….

The headline doesn’t refer to the 2007 classic* performed by Grace, but of course to the Elite League title race.  One glance at it and it confirms that it’s getting awfully tight at the top.

(* arguably)

We are now entering squeaky bum time. Of that there is no doubt. This is where coaches earn their money.  This is where the big players must show up and the smaller players must become bigger players.

A handful of points separate the three teams vying for the top spot.

Cardiff 49 points from 32 games.

Belfast 46 points from 33 games.

Sheffield 44 from 31 games.

Cardiff are quite rightly red hot favorites to win the coveted title.  They have led the league from mid-October and are cemented in the driving seat, for the second times in two years it’s their trophy to lose.


Cardiff GM Todd Kelman, hoping for more silverware come the end of the season.


The whole organisation in Cardiff will have learned from last year, from the cleaner to the Head Coach to the owners.  From the players to the media guys to the hot dog seller.  No one will want to go through that experience again.  Take one game at a time, will surely be the adage in South Wales right now.

Nottingham, surely out of the title race, despite a recent impressive rally and historic continental cup success, are clinging on for dear life to the coat tails of the three clubs above them in the Elite League.  But whilst in all seriousness they are probably out of the race for the Elite League they will surely influence where the Elite League Trophy ends up this season?

Of the 22 games left in the Panthers season, 45% (10) are against the top 3 teams in the league.  Perhaps significantly in the silverware race, they play Cardiff four times, whilst they come up against Sheffield and Belfast three times.

Twice they will take on their bitter Yorkshire rivals at home, whilst they play in Belfast twice in a double header in March which is the beginning of a 5-game run away from the National Ice Centre.  Can Nottingham win the Elite League, surely not, but can they influence where it goes?  You can bet your last pound on that.

Belfast Giants, a fantastic organisation, are right in the mix and currently sit in second place.  With Derrick Walser, not only do they have a capable guy at the helm, but probably the best D man in the league.  They are consistently impressive, and are a fantastic unit away from Belfast.  Walser can take his guys very close, their final two games of the season are in the Welsh capital, a mouth-watering prospect or potentially a huge anti-climax if Paul Thompson and his Sheffield charges have their way.


Derrick Walser, arguably the best defenceman in the Elite League, but can he steer the Belfast ship to the Elite League title?

Thompson finds himself the odd one out of the three coaches chasing for the League title.  Firstly and significantly perhaps he is the only non-player coach chasing the title, and secondly of course he is the only one to have won it before as a player or a coach.

Knowing how to win a league title in any sport is a ‘leg up’ straight away.


Are third place Sheffield ready to pounce?

Thompson has been harder than ever on his team.  Tyler Mosienko was allowed to leave Yorkshire without barely a whimper.  Jesse Schultz was then released and not replaced as of yet, with the finger pointed at a lack of secondary scoring being the reason, despite the Canadian going at very nearly a point a game. Thompson was probably making a point to his team.  Forget the fact the Schultz release was after losing to arch enemies Nottingham, the ex-Blaze Coach was making a statement.

By releasing Schultz, he was instantly putting more emphasis on his forwards, more responsibility and more accountability.  It could very well turn out to be an absolute master stroke.

Should the Yorkshire club make it three league wins in three seasons, not many will point to the 30th December when Schultz was released and say, “that was a pivotal point in our season” however Thompson may well do?

As previously mentioned Paul Thompson has one thing over Andrew Lord (Cardiff) and Derrick Walser (Belfast) – he knows how the Elite League is won.

He knows what it takes. He knows what to do and when to do it.  Not only does he know what to say, but he knows when and how to say it.

In his post-game interview after the epic overtime win in Coventry last Sunday, Thompson perhaps deliberately, left it until the end to say his most poignant words:

“We are coming, I like where we are right now, we are a team who are very experienced in being in the position we are, and we are getting better with it.

Words of warning maybe to anyone in listening in South Wales?

One thing is for sure, this League title is far from over.

Take it away Grace.

Not over yet

Author: Rob Plaister


Why Matt Marquardt is the man to take the Coventry Blaze to war.

The most complete Elite League performance from a Coventry Blaze player in a long time.

That’s the only way I can describe Matt Marquardt’s contribution on Sunday evening at the Skydome.

It was summed up perfectly by his celebration after his second goal of the evening.  A short fist pump, a yell of exuberance embraced in a face tightened with all the tension and grimace of a man who was trying to get his team mates kicking and screaming to the end.  The jump into the boards and plexi-glass chased by Robinson and Almeida. It was emotional stuff from the big Canadian.


Marquardt scores his second goal of Sunday evening, Robinson and Almeida join the celebrations

Kicking and Screaming – remember that?  Something I used to say and write about Ryan O’Marra and his pivotal contribution to the Blaze cause down the stretch when we were triumphant in Nottingham at those memorable 2015 play offs.

There are remarkable similarities between both players, and the time spent with the Blaze.  Both on ‘school’ deals, both had relatively slow starts whilst they possibly struggled to get to grips with the quirks and the strains of the Elite League.

The travelling, the officials, the different ice sizes etc. – but with O’Marra, and now with Marquardt, they changed, altered, developed call it whatever you will, but they learned to ‘embraced the suck’ to shamelessly quote a former Blaze coach.


Ryan O’Marra took Blaze kicking and screaming, now its the turn of Matt Marquardt

I don’t think Matt will have any issue with me saying his first half of the season, wasn’t as he had hoped it would be.  With the team struggling to find any sort of consistency, Marquardt at times cut a lonely figure on the ice.  Lines were changed, team mates came and went, wins were hard to come by.  But then things changed when Danny Stewart and the Coventry owners took a calculated gamble on the classy yet industrious TJ Syner, and his cousin, the likeable sniper that is Barry Almeida.

Stewart fiddled with his lines to try and find the perfect blend with his new guys, Marquardt was given an opportunity with the cousins, meaning captain Pietrus was paired with the impressive Bergman and Robinson – not a bad second offensive line.

Marquardt had finally found his place, a spot and a role he looks so comfortable with, he is now making such a huge contribution to this Blaze team that cried out, no screamed out, for the influence, skill, experience and power that ‘Mags’ brings.

This change instantly struck a chord with all it effected but none more so than Marquardt.  Overnight his game and persona improved, and it continues to rapidly improve.  Now we have the winner.  Now we have that fist pump coupled with the yell.  Now he can take us, kicking and screaming.  Now we have the guy who will do whatever it takes to try to get us the wins we need.  Blaze fans want the “whatever it takes” attitude.  In fact, they crave it.


No caption required is there?

Now we have a guy going to the net, knowing that there is every chance of an opportunity coming his way.  Now we have the guy ready to battle with the likes of Fitzgerald and Nickerson in front of that net.

I will go as far as to say that the Marquardt we are seeing now, and will hopefully see until the end of this long season, can be as effective as the Chris Bruton we picked up this time last year.  The guy that will stick his neck out, and battle in front of opposing netminders for a sniff of a chance.  Marquardt can be that man for the Coventry Blaze.

The passion that this team perhaps sometimes lacked in the first half of the season is here now, and in abundance.  A great bunch of guys but maybe a little quiet?  Not anymore.   In fact, passion is probably the wrong word.  We maybe lacked a little bit of gumption, doggedness maybe a bit of grit? I am unsure to be honest but whatever it was, all I know is it isn’t missing now.

Marquardt is like the big brother to TJ and Barry.  Diminutive maybe in size, but certainly not in heart, the cousins would probably argue that they don’t need looking after, but look after them he does.  The first sign of a face wash, or a shove and the assistant captain is in the middle of things straight away.  Whilst his recent form, until this weekend hasn’t been particularly rewarded with the points he deserved – and we all know they don’t tell the whole story, he has been like a new signing for the team.  Here is the Chris Bruton we were missing folks.


Marquardt’s team mate Liam Stewart, going to war for his club and team mate Ross Venus

A winning mentality comes from the top, from the leadership group and it filters down to all the guys below.  How proud were the Blaze faithful of Liam Stewart sticking up for Ross Venus on Sunday evening after the cheap shot from Coyle?  Stewart fought for his team mate, friend and club on Sunday night and in doing so epitomized what it means to play for the Coventry Blaze.

I get the feeling that this bunch of players are now ready to go to war.

Matt Marquardt can be the man to lead us into it.

Author: Rob Plaister

Picture credits and thanks to: Scott Wiggins

Of sticking together…

It’s time for us to stick together.

Every one of us, time for us to stick our chests out, get our heads above the parapet and remember what makes us a great hockey club.

Each other.
Losing games of hockey is horrible, we all pay good money in the hope, and with some expectation we will win every game we go to watch.

Struggling to score goals is hard to understand and accept, but no one knows this more than the people that are trying to put it right.

This isn’t the time for an idle speculative comment on Social Media, or taking photos of a paused TV screen, when the coach is looking down at his notes and questioning why he isn’t yelling instructions.

Cheap swipes are simply no good and no use to anyone. Social Media can be a wonderful thing, but it can also be the sharpest knife in the draw. Lets think twice before we decide to grab it to put it to use?

This is the time to pull together and be there for the players and the coaching staff that are hurting every bit as we are.

No one should be able to relate more than Blaze fans to the “Hockey Family” ideal, especially in this current time.

We stick together through thick and thin.

Paul Thompson summed it up last night after his side, the Sheffield Steelers, the favorites for the Elite League title, were beaten heavily at home to Cardiff last night
“That’s what real leagues are about” said the ex Blaze coach, when asked about the league standard improving every season

Those are the words of a man who has coached over 1000 professional games of Ice Hockey.

The Elite League is now a hell of a league to be involved with.

Edinburgh is a tough place to go, especially in the first three or four months of the season, so far they have beaten Fife twice, Braehead twice and Manchester Storm, anyone that thought going up there yesterday was two points in the bag, was badly mistaken.

This weekend see’s us go into battle in Belfast twice, and then we host Cardiff on the Sunday evening, it doesn’t get any easier does it?

But we have to do this together, back the boys, continue to support the club and the coach.
Any misapprehension that this guy doesn’t care is frankly preposterous.

The moment we turn on each other, we may as well pack up and go home.
The likes of Marquardt, Pietrus, Noble and Boutin will die trying to take us to a better place, and that’s all we can ask.


Of…Danny Stewart, Dundee Blaze, TV and the Altrincham Ice Dome blind spots…

So it’s here…

The Blaze season starts in earnest on Sunday with the Nottingham Panthers visiting the Skydome for the Challenge Cup, and the first competitive game of the season.

The Challenge Cup is a competition the Blaze have failed miserably in over the last few seasons and it’s something Danny Stewart will want to put right.

Writing prior to the Cardiff ‘friendly’ on Saturday I am loathe to tempt fate, but the Blaze are expected to be at full strength on Sunday.

Stewart has handled his roster admirably over the last couple of weeks. Leaving players out that needed to be, such as Cowley, Robinson and Noble, seems to have worked a treat.

Then not forgetting giving Brian Stewart a rest, and Renny getting the start in goal on Wednesday, in hindsight was a genius idea and one I don’t think many (including myself) saw coming.

Danny seems very confident in knowing how to handle his players, a clear indication and reference of this was the decision to let Marc Cantin play two games in his first 24 hours in the country, something many coaches may have backed away from.  Cantin wanted ice time and Stewart let him play.

Danny Stewart opted to rest Brian Stewart on Wednesday

It looks an exciting time for Coventry, James Pease and Danny have recruited well and with some luck we will improve greatly on last season. Let’s not get carried away, we will lose games, but it looks like we are going to have some fun for the next 8 months.

Dundee Blaze…

Many Blaze fans will be keeping a keen eye on the results in Dundee. Popular ex Blaze coach Marc LeFebvre may not have had the finest experience in his coaching career in Coventry, but he learned valuable lessons in his time here and certainly made lots of freinds.

I don’t think there is a true Blaze fan that doesn’t want ‘Favor’ to continue to do well with the Stars and after a promising first season with the Scottish club he will be looking to improve again.

LeFebvre of course has recruited two of the most popular ex Blaze players in recent seasons in Cale Tanaka and Craig Cescon.

Whilst it was maybe the right time for Cale to move on after 3 seasons with the Blaze, Cescon’s single season in Coventry never seemed enough for this writer.

A tough uncompromising character on the ice, and then the most amiable, funny likeable guy off it, I would have had Craig back in a heartbeat.

Craig Cescon, a former Blaze favourite

Tanaka and Cescon will quickly become favourites in Dundee and that can only be a good thing for the best dressed coach in the league.

TV or not TV – that is the question…

Elite League Chairman Tony Smith this week confirmed that the TV deal with Premier Sports has now finished and no contracts have been signed for the forthcoming season with the pay per view channel.

Every business has a worth and if the two organisations (EIHL and Premier Sports) just can’t work out a deal then it’s a shame but life goes on.

I know for a fact it wasn’t for the want of trying from the EIHL point of view. Many options were discussed but headway just could not be made during negotiations.

To quote someone involved  I spoke to yesterday “It’s very sad”. A short sentence but pretty much sums things up.

Aaron Murphy and Paul Adey working for Premier Sports

What I would add that knowing the guys involved from the League point of view they will be (they are) looking at a variety of options, and I don’t think British Ice Hockey will be off our screens for a long time.

If the league had undersold itself, or done a deal that wasn’t right for its member clubs they would not only have been doing a miservice to its clubs, but also to all of the fans who pay to watch Elite League Ice Hockey.

Storm coming maybe, but let’s be able to see and hear it…

Wednesday nights match up in Manchester was a cracking game first and foremost. Every fan will have gone home happy that’s for sure.  I just hope the owners of the rink start to back up the hard word of Neil Russell and his team.

Now the Altrincham Ice Dome isn’t the Sheffield Arena, I get that. But surely you have to make the best of what you have?

There are screens dotted around everywhere in the rink to back up the blind spots from where you sit. None of the ones facing the our side of the rink were working / turned on. Very frustrating.

For those that haven’t been to Manchester, there is a massive blind spot from where away fans sit (and I assume it’s the same all round the rink) which provided a comedy moment of sorts, when Robin Bergman scored a goal immediately after Blaze won the second period face off.

Boutin sent the puck to the left wing and Bergman shot home. Blaze fans were oblivious to this, we only realised we had scored when the players skates back to the bench!  Had the screens been working we could have seen the goal.

Altrincham Ice Dome

The sound system needs work too, muffled goal scoring announcements made it sometimes impossible to hear what was going on.

The was every reason last year to reserve comment, and what Neil Russell has achieved thus far is fantastic, but it’s time for the rink owners to back the club and make some investment to give Jon Hammond (how much energy has he got!?!) the best tools possible, and to present the Storm fans and visiting fans with the best experience possible.

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Is there now a missing cog in the Sheffield wheel?

Perhaps only your immediate family, but aside from those special people, nobody  in life is indispensable. That’s something we are taught early on in our first serious forays into life.

In Sport and in Hockey the old adage should still stick. Players get old, get slow, get fat, get bored and retire. They are replaced from the plethora of available players out there and life carries on.

Testimonials come and go, players shake hands and most head off into the real world to find a real job.

However, some are harder to replace than others. A few eye brows were raised in particular this summer when Sheffield Steelers legend Jason Hewitt decided to retire. He has of course since signed for Hull in the EPL.

It could be an easy assumption to make that Hewitt’s time was served and that it was time to hang them up.

Hundreds of games for the club he loves, goals, fights, more trophies than most players came ever dream of. All this on the back of a certain amount of limited ability.  That isn’t said in a derogatory manner and it’s certainly not a dig; I have every respect for Jason Hewitt and what he has achieved in the British game.

Hewitt – 33 in a few days time, it’s been said was a policeman of the Steelers dressing room. The go to man if a team mate had a problem. The fixer perhaps. The middleman between player and coach.  The guy who knows the club inside out. From the fans to the stewards to the sponsors to the owner, Hewitt would be the player to go to if a team mate had a question or a problem.

New imports come and go, new young British guys come in and it’s Hewitt along with captain Jonathon Philips that would have been one of the first to tell them how things are.  How things operate. What to say, what not to say.

But now Hewitt is gone and it’s arguably left a missing spoke in the Sheffield wheel. This is no over reaction to the Yorkshire teams results in Europe this week. It’s something I have pondered since I heard the news.

I saw Hewitt as a Russ Cowley type in Sheffield.  The Coventry player has said to me numerous times, “I don’t need an A or a C on my shirt for me to be able to convey my thoughts to others in the dressing room” and this I feel is the same with Jason Hewitt.

In rooms all around the Elite League when certain players speak, everyone listens. Tait and Cowley at Coventry, Adam Keefe in Belfast, Matt Keith in Braehead are four that come to mind. Hewitt was certainly a guy that can be included in this list.

Aside from Hewitt’s experience in the British game, there is his character and influence in the dressing room and generally around the Arena on Match days. I have been in his presence albeit watching from a far before and after games, and seen his energy and his obvious love for all things Orange.

A kind of human zebedee at times, he is a loud, brash and a naturally funny individual – a good likeable person who has earned the respect of his peers within the game.  A player opposition perhaps fans loved to hate, but that’s a begrudging respect.

Perhaps there may be a way back in to Sheffield for Hewitt later in the season?  They say never go back, but surely that wouldn’t be an opportunity he would spurn.

Is it something coach Paul Thompson would even need to give thought to?

Maybe not. In fact, I am sure it wouldn’t happen, decisions are made from both sides for various reasons, but I do wonder whether Sheffield will keep tabs on the Manchester born forwards situation in Hull.

Budgets of course play their part in this and time has to be called on everyone’s career, I understand that, I just wonder whether Sheffield could have waited another season or two before letting this cog drop off their wheel.

Indispensable – no.

Irreplaceable – maybe?

Of airport bus transfers, a well dressed gay guy and a moron….

The plane journey was innocuous. I slept half of it. Day dreamed the other half. My wife and daughter were sat behind me. Late evening flight, so we just want to get to our hotel and get bedded down for the night. In a previous life it would have been drop the bag and straight out on the town.

Plane lands and as we are at the front we are first off. The annoyance of an Airport connection bus awaits us. Damn things.

We get on and wait for it to fill. Quite a good place to people watch if nothing else.

Couple of lads get on, one about 6’5 and heavy set. About 35. Scruffy. Not your typical holiday maker. His mate is older, even scruffier. Smaller. Thick grey hair.

There is a guy who boards the bus with a really nice suit on. Young guy. 20-21 maybe. Suit is immaculate. In fact he is immaculate. Maybe Hugo Boss I wonder?  The grey haired chap is amused by the Boss wearing guy.

“What is is mate a fucking job interview?”

3 feet away from my 8 year old – classy.

The youngster sighs a reply “No mate just came straight from work”

Grey haired oaf retorts, and in doing so it all makes sense “We are Albion, playing Mallorca tomorrow ain’t we?”

Suit wearer gives a sympathetic smile and says “Oh well enjoy that”

“Are you Albion?” Comes the quick response. I am no CID chief but I have worked out this guy has had a few beverages. I am guessing his holiday started a while before mine.

I feel a bit sorry for the youngster, the coach is still filling up, he doesn’t want to converse, and he doesn’t want to piss off a drunk football fan with a giant as a mate, who bizarrely hasn’t said a word. The mute giant. Or mutant giant?

The reply is short, but there is a tremendous element of incredible self belief about it, cockiness maybe, I drop my head when I hear it for fear off the Albion fans response, but I am ecstatic at the same time “No, I don’t care too much for football, I am here with my boyfriend for a nice relaxing chilled weekend”

There is a stunned silence from Grey hair that seems to last a while. My dropped head now has a smug smile on it. “That’s ballsy, good lad”

The Albion fan reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small bottle of red wine and takes a gulp. It’s one of the kind that you buy on a plane. Revolting probably, but this guy is no connoisseur, that is for sure.  He necks the lot. Still no answer. Deep in thought he is. Trying to fathom an answer. Not sure if he is searching for humour. Breath hopefully.

I look to my wife, I don’t think she is really listening, she has arm around our daughter and is seemingly miles away, probably considering our plans for the next few days.

The drunk grey guy makes his next move. He has decided to ignore the suit wearers bold coming out statement, and gets off the coach. But he doesn’t go far. He has  decided to instruct people this is the coach for the airport.

“All aboard, on you get, we are Albion. We are all Albion, on you get”

Are we?

He is pointing to the bus as if people can’t see or know what this huge thing is. The guy has reached cretin status.

The holiday makers smile nervously at him, apologetically almost. In this situation someone would normally use the expression “His mom loves him” but they don’t probably because right at this moment she probably doesn’t.

He gets back on the bus. I notice a drink spillage stain down his top. “Hope thats red wine” I devilishly think, before quickly realising it’s a Star Wars top which wouldn’t be of any value, unless sentimental, and I don’t think this idiot has much sentiment.

He has had a think and now starts with a new change of tactic to piss everyone off even more, he obviously thinks he is funny – at the moment he is the only person in the world that has that opinion

“You know what this is (he refers to the delay) don’t you” he asks no one in particular, he quickly tells us of the answer “They want our fucking passports back, well we are in English and we voted to keep the fucking things”

Not sure if he means the authorities in Mallorca, Angela Merkel in general, in fact I have no idea what he is talking about. I need my bed, it’s 1am and Albion yob is getting political – I think.

He continues like a drunk scruffy Nigel Farage who has been on speed for a week “Well we voted to come out because of tossers like  this, now they don’t like it. Fuck em”

The bus is now full. It pulls away and snakes it’s way to the terminal. Albion man is swaying. Searching for his little bottle of vino.

Never before have I been so relieved to feel a bus move.

Weat Bromich Albion play Real Mallorca at 9pm tonight. Good seats are still available.

A fresh start for the Coventry Blaze 

It was the 27th April when we finally announced Danny Stewart as the new coach. As much as I am a volunteer, I still see him as a boss.
There is something about Stewart that scares me. Not in a bad way. But when I see his number on my phone, I sit up. When I see his email address pop up in my inbox, it gets opened straight away.
It’s the way it has to be. Paul Thompson is the same. Numerous times I have had David Simms on the phone to me, only for him to cut the call short as ‘Thommo’ is calling him. Panic sets in the Brummies voice as he yells “Got to go Thommo is trying to get me” and the phone goes dead. He doesn’t even say goodbye!

All of sudden, I am completely insignificant to Simms. Or less significant then I ever was! But that’s the way it should be, its respect to his boss, his Head Coach.
From day one, Stewart has impressed with his attitude and clear thinking. Obviously this is a guy who will be nobody’s fool. Everyone in the Blaze camp will be certain of that, if they are not now, then they will be in the future.

From the fans to the players to the owners, everyone will be clear Danny is in charge.

Stewart is here to to compete, he isn’t here for a good time. He isn’t here as a stepping stone to something bigger or better, he is here to try to get the Blaze back to their rightful place within British Ice Hockey.

The Coventry Blaze are simply not an 8th place team. That was unacceptable to every fan that paid their hard earned money to watch the boys. Its Stewart’s job to change this, and it starts from the top down.
The words “compete” and “being competitive” are words fans will get sick of. I expect Stewart to use them in every Media Conference we do. But they are important words, and the roster is built with this mentality this in mind. We will compete. We have to compete.

The roster Stewart has put together has been impressive from the outset, its easy to get carried away with new signings, Elite Prospects only tells a fraction of every players story. Every player has filled a spot, and every player has their part to play in the system and structure.

It’s seemingly a completely different set of thinking to last years recruitment.  In retrospect, that’s great news.

Stewart has been thorough, patient and clever with the players he has put together. Today’s 5pm announcement goes further to prove this. I tweeted the other day about “their being only one Mike Egener”. Well Danny has found another one. A younger, quicker one – no offence Eggie.

Last season left a lot to be desired, let’s not pull punches. Let’s shoot from the hip, it finished in tears and at times, there were occasions through the season, where there was many a puzzled face. Lessons have been learned and the decks have been cleared. We start again. A fresh start for everyone.

It takes a brave, nay, stupid man to stand up and say, this season will be different. But I guarantee this group of guys that the feisty Canadian has put together will die trying to be the best. And that is all we can ask and all we can expect.

I am off to Mallorca with the girls tonight. A few hours after the new and final import is announced. How’s that for timing?

See you all soon.