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.

Neil Returns as Player Coach for 2019/20 Season

As exclusively revealed at Saturday nights End of Season event, the Blackburn Hawks management are delighted to announce that James Neil has agreed to continue as Blackburn Hawks Player Coach for the new season 2019-2020.

James took over the reins part way through last season following the departure of Steve Duncombe, steering the Hawks to a Play-Off spot and has stated that he intends to waste no time at all in putting the team together for the new season on Planet Ice Blackburn’s new ice pad!

Blackburn Hawks Head of Operations John Neville spoke to us earlier today and commented, “I met with James last week and am so pleased he will be continuing in the role next season, we ended the season well and now with the new league structure we will be competitive in every game we play. I look forward to seeing the roster James and I can build for next season”.

James Neil had this to say about his appointment, “I’m looking forward to facing a new challenge next season. My main goal as coach is to get the club back to becoming a stronger, more focused team who can perform consistently and challenge for silverware. Last season we showed some great potential on and off the ice and I plan to continue that. With some new faces and the core of last season’s squad I’m confident we can have a great year – I look forward to seeing you all in September”.

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

Chris Butler

CHRIS BUTLER

 

Blackburn Hawks management, players and supporters would like to offer deepest condolences to ex Hawk Chris Butler on the passing of his brother this week.

Chris played for the Hawks for 7 seasons, making 129 appearances, scoring 8 goals and winning 2 Championship and 2 Play off Champions medals as part of the “invincibles” of 2014 -15 and 2015-16.

Once again, heartfelt sympathy from all at Blackburn Hawks.

Play-off Weekend Round-Up

Play-off Weekend Round-up

Full 9 Yards sponsored Blackburn Hawks took on Sheffield Steeldogs in the Moralee Division Play-off Quarter-Finals at the weekend. Sheffield finished 2nd and Blackburn 7th at the end of the regular season league games, making Sheffield heavy favourites to move to the semi – finals.  Somebody forgot to tell the Hawks.

SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS 7   BLACKBURN HAWKS 2

Hawks lined up with only Rick Ravey and Adam Barnes missing and Harrison Walker between the pipes. Referee was Hamilton and he wasted no time making his mark with a hooking call on Robin Kovar after just 54 seconds. Sheffield were taking advantage of the extra man and only sterling defence by Neil, Kennedy and Walker kept the puck out and the penalty kill was successful. Both teams went hard at it in the first 7 or 8 minutes without getting the breakthrough.

Hawks were first on the score sheet after 9.32. Robin Kovar stole the puck from the Dogs and sent Luke Boothroyd in one on one with Zimozdra and Luke deftly squeezed the puck between pad and post for 0-1 Hawks. Hawks were defending resolutely and looking very dangerous going forward and that brought its reward after 13.29 when the visitors took a shock 2-0 lead with a superb goal. Petr Valusiak went coast-to-coast before sending the puck past Zimozdra for 0-2.  Steeldogs were stung into action after losing that second goal and pulled one back less than a minute later. Nathan Salem got the goal assisted by Spiers and Morgan. Goal was timed at 14.13 and that ended the scoring in the first period despite heavy Steeldogs pressure.  The noisy Hawks support were delighted and stood to a man/woman/boy and girl to applaud their heroes back to the locker room.

 

 

The second period started off a bit scrappy as both teams turned the puck over. Robin Kovar had the first good chance of the period when he ran the Dogs’ defence ragged before producing a good block from Zimozdra. Sheffield then had a brief period of pressure and a great pad save by Walker and superb defending by Bannon kept the home team at bay. Hawks then took over and Zimozdra made save after save to keep the period scoreless. As the game passed the half way mark, it was all Sheffield, pushing the Hawks well back into their own defensive zone. Pressure eventually told with 33.14 on the clock as the home side equalized. Milan Kolena cut in from the win and wrong -footed Walker to put the biscuit in the barrel for 2-2. Both teams were hunting the go-ahead goal as the period entered its final minute and it was the home side that found the net with just 36 seconds left. Spiers took the puck round the back of the net and managed the wrap around to push the puck past Walker.  End of 40 minutes of scintillating hockey and it was the home side that took a slender 3-2 lead to the break.

Steeldogs made the stronger start to the third period as they sought the goals to take a good lead back to Blackburn. Hawks were equal to the task and made a few good chances of their own, firstly when Jared Dickinson had a shot from the middle of the blue line which went just wide and Luke Boothroyd trademark rocket beat Zimozdra but stuck in the netminder’s skate. The Steeldogs increased their lead on 42.26 when Brownley shot from the face off spot and the puck went in off the crossbar. Hawks fought back gallantly but tiredness was creeping in and the Steeldogs just looked too strong for them at this point. Steeldogs made it 5-2 on 47.32 as Smith battled hard, taking the puck wide and fired a shot over Walker’s shoulder into the top corner of the net.  Ollie Lomax then fell foul of another Hamiltonism as he queried a decision and was given a 2 minute abuse and a 10 minute misconduct penalty.

Sheffield should have scored again shortly afterwards but Harrison Walker made an incredible save from Sheffield’s Brownley. Sheffield were now having most of the possession and made it 6-2 with 7 minutes left in the game. A game of tic-tac-toe ensued with pin point passes from the Dogs and Spiers was left alone at the back post to sweep the puck home. The score-line was completed on 55.39 with a short-handed goal by Nathan Salem to give the Steeldogs a 7-2 lead to take to the nest.

A great performance by the underdogs, who frightened the life out of the dogs and the 7-2 score-line does not reflect the Hawks performance as they left it all out on the ice. Harrison Walker was given the Man of the Match beers with the home-side’s Tim Smith taking the honours for the home side.

BLACKBURN HAWKS  4     SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS 6

Hawks took to the ice missing Rick Ravey as Adam Barnes returns to the roster with Hawks looking at the seemingly impossible task of turning a 5 goal deficit around.

A blitz start by Hawks had Sheffield on the back foot and it paid off with only 98 seconds on the clock. James Royds stole the puck from the Dogs in their defensive zone and fed James Riddoch who skated into the slot and slipped the puck past Zimozdra. Hawks kept the pressure on the visitors and hit Zimozdra with everything but the kitchen sink. Steeldogs were reeling. Sheffield’s netmider was totally on his A game as he stopped a plethora of shots from the hungry Hawks. All that in the first 5 minutes of the game! The pressure was relentless as the home side tried everything to reduce the deficit with Sheffield looking dangerous on the odd break. Adam Barnes then went coast to coast but his low shot was padded to safety by the Dogs’ netminder. Sheffield then went close as Walker was stranded at the wrong post and was grateful to see the puck go wide. Steeldogs had the puck in the net with 5 minutes left in the period but the net was well off prior to the puck crossing the goal line.

The period ended with the Hawks leading 1-0 but 3-7 down on aggregate.

 

  

The start of the second was end to end but the final pass/shot was being well defended by both sides. Hawks made it 2-0 as the mid point in the game approached. Blackburn were set up around the Sheffield blue line as a pass aimed cross ice was intercepted by Lee Pollitt who turned and shot and the puck flashed past Zimozdra. 3-0,  5-7 on aggregate with 30 minutes to go.  Adam Barnes was tormenting the Sheffield defence as Zimozdra denied him twice. Third time lucky for Barnes as he crossed the blue line on the right wing and unleashed a wicked shot, bulging the net, with the Sheffield netminder no-where. 3-0 and the dream was still alive. 5-7 on aggregate. Hawks were looking in control of the game and Adam Barnes nearly made it 4-0 with a shot pinging off the post.

Sheffield then hit Hawks with a devastating double blow. Firstly, on 38.32 Spurr scored , assisted by Kolena and Graham then less than a minute later Nathan Salem went on a solo run and scored off the post. 3-2 Hawks with 48 seconds left in the period. The period ended with Bobby Streetly in the box on a tripping penalty and a relieved Steeldogs side made for the locker room with a 4 goal lead on aggregate.

 

  

 

That quick double blast by Sheffield seemed to have taken some of the heart out of the Hawks and Sheffield started to play the puck around and made it 3-3 on the night with a goal from Graham, assisted by Spurr. Hawks were not done yet and re-took the lead on 44.50 with a power play goal. Barnes passed to Kovar who sent the puck out from the corner to Kennedy on the hash marks and a lovely shot found the top corner. The home fans’ joy was short lived however as Sheffield scored their 4th of the night with a solo goal from import Palak. Jared Dickinson then put a huge hit on Palak which shook the Sheffield forward a bit. So much so he went chirping to the ref who gave him a 2 minute misconduct penalty. Kovar found Davies in the slot and his shot was blocked and rebounded to Robin who sent a rocket goalwards but it was just wide of the post. Hawks seemed to have found a new energy as they pinned the Dogs back in their own half but just could not get that finishing touch. Steeldogs took the lead on the night on 56.03 with a second goal for Graham as he knocked a loose puck into the net.  Things then got a bit feisty as a group of players came together and Steeldogs’ Brownley appeared to fall into the boards and groggily made his way to the changing room. The result was that Palak received a 2 minute misconduct and a 2+10 for checking from behind and Jordan Bannon received a match penalty for spearing.

The final goal of the evening went to the visitors with 7 seconds left as Spurr scored, assisted by Kolena and Morgan. Final score Hawks 4 Steeldogs 6 and a 13-6 aggregate win for the Steeldogs who move on to the semi finals next weekend.

A superb weekend’s effort from Hawks who frightened the life out of the Steeldogs early in both games. Congrats to Sheffield and good luck in the next round but you head home knowing the Hawks battled to the end.

And so the season ends for Blackburn Hawks. A bit of a mix with a tremendously large injury list in the first half of the season, a change of coach, and a spirited end to the season with the team giving their all every game Congrats to James Neil and the lads for fighting right to the very end and making a lot of Hawks fans very proud of their efforts.

The season may be over for your favourites but you can get your hockey fix on the 21st April at the nest when the Rob Craig Memorial Charity game takes place. Tickets still available for this worthy event.

 

The following week it is the Blackburn Hawks presentation night on the 27th April in the bar. Get your tickets from the office and come and see the awards ceremony.

Action photos byTom Foy

 

Weekend Preview

Weekend Preview

Full 9 Yards Sponsored Blackburn Hawks take on Sheffield Steeldogs in the NIHL Moralee Division Play-off quarter finals this weekend. They travel to Ice Sheffield on Saturday 23rd March for the first leg and meet again at the nest on Sunday 24th with face off at the usual time of 1730hrs.

Hawks’ record against the Steeldogs does not make good reading with 6 defeats out of six. However, the last two games were close affairs and the 6-5 loss in January was one of Hawks’ best performances of the season.

THREE DOGS TO WATCH

I am not going to single out three players this time as most of the team has been highlighted during the regular season.

Suffice to say, they are a well-balanced side throughout and were beaten finalists in the Cup and finished second in the league.

In net, Dimitri Zimozdra is one of the best net minders in the league and he is well supported by Ben Morgan (Player- coach) in defence. In attack Ashley Calvert, Dog’s power forward is not only a prolific scorer(46 goals), he is also the brawn in the team, never slow to show his physical side when required. On their very potent front line they also have Cameron Brownley with 25 goals and Milan Kolena with 20.

Steeldogs will be very disappointed they have been bridesmaids so far in this year’s competitions and will now be focused on the play-offs.

Hawks’ have had an injury ravaged season and have done well to finish in 7th place. Now most of the injured players have returned, they are showing what might have been, had they had a bigger squad to choose from. Their form in the last couple of months will have given them heart and, who knows, they might just upset the applecart in the play- offs.

Coach James Neil is very experienced in big play-off games and he will have the team ready to get up and at ‘em this weekend.

Hawks support has been great with noisy encouragement throughout the season, realizing the effort the players have put in, especially when short benched.

Let’s all get behind them in the most important game of the season and hopefully drive them to success.

See you at the rink

Hawks Player of the Year

 

The Full 9 Yards Blackburn Hawks Supporters’ player of the year nominations are now up and running.

If you would like to vote, simply fill in a form at the merchandise table at Sunday’s Play-off game against the Sheffield Steeldogs.

If you are cannot make the game, the last day for nominations at the Arena is Sunday April 21st, the day of the Rob Craig Memorial game.

Only one vote per person and you must include your name on the paper. All votes will remain confidential.