Photo: Rick Webb
The increasingly badly named 10×10 series returns once again with a look at each of the NIHL1 South teams through the eyes of one of their returning players. Teams are being reviewed in no particular order.
The first team we’ll look at this season are Streatham IHC, as told to us by last season’s NIHL1 South Player of the Year Michael Farn.
Round 2 of the ‘One NIHL’ is almost upon us and after another hectic summer in the world of British ice hockey, we can finally get onto playing and watching some ice hockey.
There was a lot of speculation last summer as to whether the league structure would be a competitive one and I think as a whole it was probably a lot more competitive than anyone could of predicted before the first games took place. I think the top 3 in the league were fully deserving of their final league positions. Cardiff grew stronger as the year went on and it was great for them to get 2 points with a couple of overtime losses towards the end of the year. Positions from 4th to 8th could have been in any order and their performances even gave the top 3 plenty of challenges along the way.
From a Streatham point of view, we didn’t have the best of starts in the league, winning only 1 of the first 10 games I believe. Thankfully, we also had the cup games which kept spirits high due to us having a 100% record through the group stages which I believe helped towards us turning our season around.
Streatham have a real disadvantage when it comes to recruitment because as we all know London isn’t the easiest of places to get to by car on the best of days and housing is certainly on the expensive side. Last year, apart from the two guys who lived locally, all the lads travelled between 1 & 3 hours just to get to the rink. So when you aren’t all living locally and haven’t got that time to bond, you really do need to put the work in on the ice. On the flip side, when you’re all in the same boat it helps pull everyone together and made for a great spirit within the changing room.
The way our season finished really was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as we arguably put together our best 120 minutes of hockey against Swindon in the playoff quarterfinal. Swindon are a talented team with a lot of depth and were probably favourites to win the play offs (until you know what happened) but we ran them close and had them on the back foot in their own rink for large chunks of the first 2 periods. But overall I think we should be proud with how we progressed through the year and pushed a top team right to the wire.
Looking towards this upcoming season, we’ve unfortunately lost Cardiff due to unforeseen circumstances but the recruitment across the league should result in an even more competitive league. Most people will have their money on Swindon and Bracknell to take most of the silverware but it wouldn’t be British ice hockey if there weren’t some twists and turns along the way. If you want to get your hands on silverware this year, you’ll have to turn up and give 100% each night otherwise you can wave goodbye to winning games, never mind trophies.
In Streatham at the very least we need to improve on last year but we want to be pushing the top 2 or 3 teams and really break into the top end of the table. Streatham is steeped in history and is a great club to be a part of so we as players need to give everything to create our own history for the club. It’s important we get off to a good start especially as the first lot of games will be double points for the league and cup.
Cornish has made his mark on Streatham in a fairly short time, he’s clear on how he likes to play and recruits a team to match his style. I think that his style of coaching brings the best out of players and you can see on the ice we play for each other. I know Streatham has had a lot of familiar faces around for a good few years but it’s inevitable that those faces will move on and new faces will come in. It happens in all aspects of life, not just hockey. So there’s no surprise that there’s been a fair few ins and outs again this summer. When you lose the likes of Matty Colclough, Ryan Watt and Aidan Doughty who are match winners, adding to that Brendan Baird, Chris Cooke, Joe Allen, Jamie Hayes, Brandon Miles, Ben Paynter, Dan Rose and Alex Sampford it was never going to be easy to replace them all and have a stronger team.
Looking at the new roster now and bringing in Damian King is a massive signing as he’s a proven netminder not only at this level but also in the old EPL. Rupert Quiney and Ben Russell will add size and grit to the defence which is what we sometimes missed last year. Offensively the likes of Scott Bailey, Thomas Beesley and Josh Condren are all Cornish type players, young, quick and with a point to prove.
Leigh Jamieson brings a wealth of experience with him having played in the elite league for a number of years as well as GB senior teams caps. Alex Roberts is coming from across the pond, he has a good CV and could be the final piece to the puzzle. Our biggest coup of the summer for me is Thomas Soar, he’s always put up good numbers, has always been tough to play against, and I think he will be a fan favourite in Streatham.
All of us returning players will give Streatham a good foundation, and we will all look to improve on last year. Like I mentioned earlier, with the way the season finished last year we will be looking to right the wrongs of last season.
As long as we keep Ryan Webb away from the pre-game music, we don’t get deducted points for Leigh Jamieson going offside, and Adam Wood doesn’t leave midseason for the skateboarding world championships- we will be in for a great season.