NIHL DIVISIONAL FORMATS CONFIRMED FOR 2019/20 SEASON

The clubs and management of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) held their annual section meetings this past weekend and agreed the format of competitions for the 2019/20 season starting in September.

A new ten team national division, NIHL National, comes into existence to sit above the long-standing Division 1 and 2 which are both regionalised into North and South.

Some finer details around exact format of some Cup and Playoff competitions are still to be signed off by some divisions but the details below are confirmed.

NIHL: NATIONAL

NIHL National’s ten teams will be split into two conferences for regular season play.  Telford Tigers, MK Lightning, Sheffield Steeldogs, Hull Pirates and Leeds Chiefs make up one conference.  Swindon Wildcats, Bracknell Bees, Basingstoke Bison, Peterborough Phantoms and Raiders make up the other.

Teams will play their own conference four home and four away, while they face the other conference twice at home and twice away.

At the end of the regular season, the top eight teams from the overall standings will qualify for the playoffs.  These will play in two groups of four, one home and one away game, with the groups being 1st-4th-5th-8th and 2nd-3rd-6th-7th.  The top two sides from the groups will qualify for the finals weekend in Coventry.

There will also be a National Cup where the first home game for each club against the nine other clubs will count towards the qualifying standings.  The top four sides from this table will qualify for cup semi finals.  The highest placed qualifier will choose their semi final opponent, with the two remaining sides also matching up.  The Cup should have reached at least the semi final stage by the end of the calendar year.

The season will likely begin on September 14/15 and it was confirmed the the NIHL National will continue with the same ‘import’ rules as last year.  Teams can dress two ‘imports’ with only one being allowed on the ice at any one time.

NIHL: Division 1 – South

It is confirmed that there are ten teams in this division for 19/20 – Invicta Dynamos, Streatham IHC, MK Thunder, Cardiff Fire, Slough Jets, Bracknell Hornets, Raiders 2, Solent Devils, Oxford City Stars and Chelmsford Chieftains.

The teams will play two home and two away against each other for the regular season, with the top eight sides qualifying for post-season play.  The exact format of the playoffs will be confirmed in due course.

A number of teams expressed interest in a cup competition and discussions are ongoing.

NIHL: Division 2 – South

There are twelve teams in this division.  Guildford Phoenix, Bracknell IHC 3,  Bristol Pitbulls, Peterborough Phantoms 2, Invicta Mustangs, Haringey Huskies, Basingstoke Buffalo, Swindon Wildcats 2, Lee Valley Lions, Streatham Bruins, Solent Devils 2, Cardiff Fire 2.  Cardiff’s second team were accepted pending final agreement for ice time at their home venue.

Once Cardiff’s participation is confirmed then the structure for the regular season will be announced along with playoffs.

There will be a South 2 Cup this season which will culminate in a Cup Final Weekend.

NIHL: Division 1 – North

Seven sides will compete in this division for 19/20 – Solway Sharks, Whitley Warriors, Solihull Barons, Blackburn Hawks, Sutton Sting, Billingham Stars and Nottingham Lions.

The league season will be two home and two away against each other, with the top six sides qualifying for postseason play.  This will take the form of two groups of three sides – 1st, 4th, 6th and 2nd, 3rd, 5th – playing one home and one away to decide semi finalists and so on.

There will be additional cup competitions to include Murrayfield Racers and Dundee Comets from SNL along with Widnes Wild from NIHL North 2.  The sides will play in two groups of five.  Solway, Whitley, Billingham, Murrayfield and Dundee in one group, with Solihull, Blackburn, Sutton, Nottingham and Widnes in the other.  The number of Cup fixtures is still to be confirmed by the teams involved.  Each group will have its own knockout stages to decide the cup winners.

NIHL: Division 2 – North

There are nine sides in this division – Widnes Wild, Telford Tigers 2, Hull Jets, Bradford Bulldogs, Sheffield Senators, Coventry Blaze, Deeside Dragons, Altrincham Aces and Blackburn Hawks 2.

North 2 clubs will play two home and two away against each other with the top four sides qualifying for the playoffs.

NIHL Division 1 and 2 seasons are likely to begin on 7/8 September.  The winners of North 1 and South 1 are likely to play at the Coventry weekend for a national championship game. There is also an appetite to retain the NIHL2 championship game which has played at Coventry for the past two years.  NLMG are investigating options for this fixture.

The annual review of Rules of Competition is underway while clubs will be providing their available dates to the NLMG to begin the fixture list compilation.

The NIHL management would like to thank all clubs and their representatives for their valuable input at the meetings and look forward to working with them to prepare for the new season

21 Again

We are pleased to announce that Blackburn Hawks long-serving defenceman Ollie Lomax will return to the ice for the 2019-2020 season for the Blackburn Hawks.

Blackburn born and bred, Ollie has spent most of his hockey career at Blackburn, from 2002 when he played for Blackburn Eagles, Thunderhawks and Icehawks at junior level.

His break into senior ice hockey came in 2003 when he made an appearance for the Blackburn Hawks.  His games with the Hawks became more and more regular before he became a permanent fixture in 2007.

Apart from 8 appearances for Billingham Bombers in 2008-2009, the rest of Ollie’s playing career has been with the Hawks playing in a staggering 434 matches for the Hawks altogether.

Silverware came first in 2013 when Blackburn Hawks beat Billingham Stars in the 2013 playoff final, then again, as part of the ‘Invincibles’ team of 2014-2015 winning both the NIHL North 1 Moralee League, and the playoff trophy.  They then achieved the ‘double-double’ when the league and playoff champions trophies spent a second year running in the hands of the Blackburn Hawks.

Ollie has been a loyal servant of the Hawks for many years and is unafraid of rolling his sleeves up and getting stuck in when needed, representing the club for press interviews, appearances at the hospital at Christmas time, and helping out with the various community visits with Chris Riley and fellow team members.

Last season:

League:

Played: 35

Goals: 1

Assists: 3

Cup:

Played: 12

Goals: 1

Assists: 1

Ollie had this to say:

“After a busy personal summer, I’m really looking forward to getting back amongst the lads and helping Neilly with anything that he asks of me.

It’s an absolute no brainer for me every time I get asked to return, it’s a real privilege to play for a club the size of ours and to have done it for so long it gets sweeter every season.

It will be great to get back to the bread and butter of NIHL North 1 as it was, and there’s no reason why we can’t have a real go. See you in September!”

James Neil commented on Ollie’s return:

“Ollie has been there and done everything when it comes to the Blackburn Hawks.  I will be relying on all of his experience especially with having a young squad this upcoming season.  I know Ollie will put his body on the line every night for the club, he has done for many years now and you can’t deny his commitment and love for the Hawks”.

We would like to take this opportunity to wish Ollie and his fiancé Nicole all the very best for their upcoming wedding this Summer.

Own and Loan shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

CLUB ANNOUNCEMENT

 

It is with a heavy heart that we must announce that along with Ross Kennedy and Luke Boothroyd who have already been announced at their new clubs, Bobby Streetly and Robin Kovar will also not be returning to Blackburn Hawks for the forthcoming season.

Hawks management and coaching staff would like to place on record our thanks for the hard work and commitment they have given to the club and would like to wish them all the very best for the future.

 

Royds Returns For 2019-2020

Blackburn Hawks coaching staff and management are pleased to confirm that James Royds has agreed to return to the nest for the 2019-2020 season.

James first joined Blackburn Kestrels U16 team age 12, then after a year joined the junior set up at Bradford.  Playing for both the Under 16 and Under 18 teams, he earned the Captaincy for the U16s and Alternate Captain for the U18s, all while also playing at Conference level for the U11,13,15 and U17 teams.

In 2015 James broke into the senior Bradford Bulldogs side before moving over the Pennines to Blackburn Hawks in 2016, and last season his hard work, and consistent, excellent displays week in week out were rewarded when he was given the alternate captaincy for the Hawks aged just 19.

 

Last season:

League:

Played: 36

Goals: 13

Assists: 15

 

NIHL North Cup:

Played: 12

Goals: 5

Assists: 7

 

James Neil has this to say about securing James’ services for the forthcoming season:

“Jimmy has nothing but impressed me over the past two seasons since I’ve been with the Hawks, a player I can rely on and trust in any situation.  He puts his body on the line every game and consistently gives his all for the team.  I believe he will be one of the most dangerous players in the league next season and it’s great for the whole club to have him back.”

 

James Royds comments:

“I’m happy to be signing back with Hawks again for another season! We made some real progress towards the end of last season and moved forward well together as a team so it will be exciting to see what we can push for this season with the new league structures!”

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

 

 

Harrison Walker Returns For 2019-2020

 

We are delighted to reveal that 16-year-old shot-stopper Harrison Walker has agreed to return for the 2019-2020 season.  Bradford born Harrison has already made a name for himself within the league with his performances – and his hockey career so far is certainly one to be proud of.

His first appearances were made with Bradford Bulldogs in 2011 where he played for the Under 16 team with appearances for the England Under16 team during this time.  He then spent a season sharing his game time between the Bulldogs Under 16s and Blackpool Seagulls Under 16s.  The following 2 seasons of his club career were spent solely at Bradford Bulldogs for the Under 15 team, with appearances with England Under 15s and 18s as well.  His break into senior ice hockey came last season making 32 appearances for the Blackburn Hawks, with 2 for Bradford Bulldogs and 4 for Bulldogs Under 18s.  He has also been a regular participant in the North Conference tournament representing the Northern Conference at under 11,13,15 and 17 age groups.

Last season:

Save percentage: Blackburn Hawks (league and cup): 86.8%

Bradford Bulldogs: 87.2%

Bradford Bulldogs Under 18 (2): 96.9%

 

Harrison spoke of his decision to return:

“I’m happy to sign for Blackburn again for a second year. My first year was a really good learning curve for my senior career and I can’t wait to progress further whilst gaining as much experience as possible.  I have been speaking to Neilly and with the team he is putting together, and I know we can compete for the top spot in the new league structure.  I can’t wait to play in front of the hawks fans again next season and no doubt there will be some success”.

 

James Neil commented on the news of Harrison’s return:

“I’m delighted to have Harrison back next season in a Hawks jersey! For a 16-year-old lad, the level he produced last season was so impressive, and I believe he’s only going to get better. He is very calm and has a maturity about his work in goal, and we both agreed it was important for him to be playing regularly to help continue his development. I’m confident he can backstop us to some success next season”.

 

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

 

Photo courtesy of Thomas Foy

 

Utility Man Returns

Head Coach James Neil is wasting no time this season in putting together the best team possible for the 2019-2020 season and his next signing is no exception.

We can now announce that Salford born forward Jared Dickinson has agreed to return for his first full season with Blackburn Hawks.

Jared has played most of his hockey career in the Manchester area starting with the Manchester Phoenix Under 16 and 18 teams from 2007, then for the Trafford Metros in 2011 in the English National League. He played for the Phoenix senior side in the following season, scoring in his only appearance in the EPIHL before icing for them in the playoffs. The following season saw Jared playing for the Manchester Minotaurs with appearances for the Phoenix in the playoffs in seasons 2013 and 2014. During 2015-16 Jared played 13 games for Manchester Storm while on a two-way contract with the Altrincham Aces, until midway through last season when he signed for Blackburn Hawks.

Last season:

Altrincham Aces

Played: 8

Goals: 6

Assists: 3

Blackburn Hawks

Played: 12

Goals: 2

Assists: 4

James Neil:

“When the opportunity came to sign Jared last season it was one I wanted to make. And having him back for the upcoming season is huge for us. He can play both defence and forward and can adapt to any situation out on the ice. He has great awareness and vision to make simple plays which is important. Jared reads the game and I’m really pleased I’ve got the chance to work with him again next season.”

Jared:

“Firstly, I would just like to thank James Neil for the invitation to play for the Blackburn Hawks for the 2019/20 campaign.

It was a difficult decision for me to depart the Aces last season as Altrincham has been at the epicentre of my entire hockey career. I feel privileged to have been a part of the organisation for so many years, however I felt it was the right time for me to explore my other options.

With joining Blackburn late last season I didn’t get to experience the full package of what the Hawks are all about. As a result, when the coach asked me to return for this upcoming season, I gladly took him up on the offer.

Although I signed for Blackburn in the latter stages of the season, I was still made to feel very welcome by both fans and staff members which made the transition between clubs much easier for me. I enjoyed the competitive nature of the hockey played here at the Hawks, so I am looking forward to experiencing more of this in the upcoming season. With the structure of the league changing, I feel we will be a strong contender for the title position and this can only resonate positivity within the changing room allowing for a great team atmosphere and mentality.

With this being said, I am currently enjoying the off season with my family and beginning preparations for what looks to be the start of a very exciting hockey campaign.

See you all in September!”

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Foy

Unsung Hero Back For More

We are pleased to announce that the latest in our series of signings for the 2019-2020 season is our recent returnee defenceman Craig Lutkevitch.

Craig, who hails from Bury, has spent most of his hockey career based at Blackburn. Making junior appearances for Blackburn Eagles and England Under 16 teams, he then progressed to play for the Blackburn Eagles senior team from 2012 through to 2017, also playing for Blackburn Hawks several times between 2014-2017. Craig then made the move to Deeside Dragons in 2017 before becoming a full time member of the Blackburn Hawks team last season with performances which earned him the ‘2018-2019 Unsung Hero’ award at Presentation Evening back in April.

Last season:

Played: 43

Goals: 2

Assists: 5

 

James Neil comments:

“To be honest I didn’t know much about Luco before last season, apart from when he slashed me whilst playing for Deeside, but I was more than pleased that we signed him last year. If he keeps developing at the rate he did last year then it will be even more pleasing. Luco knows his role and plays the right way. He’s a honest player and the more in my team the better. I’m looking forward to helping him develop next season and I’m really pleased he’s back.”

 

Craig has this to say about his re-signing:

“When I was asked to sign for the Hawks again the decision was an easy one. I felt the season was a success for myself in gaining experience at that level. Neily did a great job as coach after Duncs left the club and I felt that I understood what he wanted from me and I look forward to working with him next season. With the new league structure I’m certain Hawks will have a strong team to compete with in that league and I’m excited to see what September brings”

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

 

Photos courtesy of Thomas Foy

 

 

Riddoch Returns

Blackburn Hawks coaching staff and Management are delighted to announce that forward James Riddoch will be donning the Blackburn Hawks shirt for the 2019-2020 season.

Starting his hockey career age 11 with Blackburn Eagles Under 16 team, James made his way through the Blackburn ranks before the breakthrough into his senior career when he started playing for the NIHL2 Blackburn Eagles. It was during this time that he played up to the Blackburn Hawks, in particular in both double winning seasons, notching up 3 assists for the ‘Invincibles’ (2014-2015) aged just 16 and the following year he scored 5 goals and 6 assists.

Last season:

League:

Played: 36

Goals: 12

Assists:12

NIHL North Cup:

Played: 12

Goals: 4

Assists: 4

James said: “It’s great to be asked back to the Hawks for another season, James Neil did a great job last year stepping in as coach after Duncs’ departure and it’ll be good to continue my development under his guidance next season. I’m sure he will be looking to assemble a team that is ready to compete in every game next season.  I am going to enjoy the summer, but I am excited for the season coming.”

James Neil commented: “I’m really pleased to have Ridz returning for the upcoming season, last season he showed on many occasions his fantastic potential and my goal is to help him progress even further. He has great vision and can make some incredible plays and it’s my job to encourage him to do it on a consistent basis. I’m really looking forward to working with him, especially in the new league structure.”

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.

Keep your eye out on this website and our social feeds for more information and the latest signing news.

 

Photos courtesy of Thomas Foy

Young Guns Back for Season 2019 / 20

Blackburn Hawks Head Coach James Neil has certainly hit the ground running by adding his first 2 signings to his 2019 / 20 roster.

Step forward Ronnie Grimes and Jack Murray. Through sheer grit and determination both have worked their way through the junior system to Blackburn Hawks 2 and on to Blackburn Hawks 1.

Young forward Ronnie who shoots right, celebrated his 18th birthday just last month, made his Hawks 1 debut recently, with impressive performances from day one. He appeared in 13 games this season, scoring a cracker of a goal against Nottingham in February.

Ronnie said: “I’m looking forward to stepping up again from junior level to the Hawks, it was a great experience last season and I learnt a lot from just being around the team. I’m really looking forward to September already.”

Defenceman Jack made 29 appearances for the Hawks last season, scoring 2 goals and being credited with 2 assists, quickly becoming a fan’s favourite with his enthusiasm on and off the ice, and showing maturity beyond his 17 years. Jack Put in some impressive performances, logging some big minutes when it was much needed.

Jack on re-signing for the Hawks, “I’m really looking forward to stepping up to Hawks again for the upcoming season, it was a great experience last year and I’m pleased to have been asked to sign again.”

On signing the 2 youngsters James Neil said, “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work with Jack and Ronnie again next season.  It’s massively important we give young players in our country the chance to develop and learn the game and I have every confidence that the both of them can continue to progress and improve into excellent players.”

Own and Loan Shirt information will be released in due course.