The Blackburn HAWKS are pleased to announce the return of five key defensive players, including club captain, Chris Arnone.
He joins Craig Rogers, Ollie Lomax, Rick Ravey and Chris Butler on the blue-line for next season, in a bumper deal that will see the Hawks maintain a solid defensive core for the new season.
Arnone – who will be competing in his 9th season with the East Lancashire side – is a product of the Blackburn Junior system, having come through the ranks before being called up to the first team squad in the 2006/7 season. Lomax, Rogers and Ravey have all also featured for Blackburn Junior teams, with Butler first joining the Hawks in the 2009/10 season.
Speaking to BlackburnHawks.com, Head Coach Jared Owen said:
“I think the start we’ve made to our defensive core is vital to the success the team has this season. Last season our defence was excellent and so it was vital that we were able to retain that solid core. All 5 guys were must haves to re-sign and we’re delighted to have got them all on board.
“Chris’ on ice leadership has developed year on year. He is one of the best offensive defenceman in the league, he carries the puck well out of defence and helps us turn defence into attack quickly. He is desperate to win and those are the qualities we look for in our team.
“Cragger is an excellent d-man who probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves across the league for his abilities. He’s a big guy who plays the body, is very tough to beat one on one and keeps it simple in the d zone. He’s another big asset on the blue line and I’m thrilled to have him back with the team.
“Ollie is a heart and soul player who possesses great technical ability. He always puts his body on the line for team, whether its blocking shots or making hits. He is desperate for the team to win and as a coach I admire those qualities in a player. He built a good relationship on the ice with Rick Ravey and we’ll be looking for that to continue to develop this season.
“Rick continued his development since converting to defence two seasons ago. He has one of the best attitudes of anyone I’ve ever played with – he always listens, plays the role he’s asked to and never moans. He hits the body hard, sticks up for his teammates and has transitioned into a very good defenceman in this league.
“Finally we have Chris Butler returning to the team. He’s been unlucky with injuries the last few seasons, but his play last year was excellent and he showed his quality as a stay-at-home defenceman – very tough to beat one on one and makes the simple plays for the team. He’s a big guy and adds some size to our blue line, he’ll be an important player for the team this season.”
With still many more signings to come, keep an eye on the website, Facebook page and Twitter feed in the coming weeks for all the latest news ahead of the new season.