Elite League appoint IHUK to run officials' allocations

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The Elite League have appointed Simon Kirkham and Ice Hockey UK to run the allocation of the league’s officials next season.

The league’s officials are already registered with IHUK each year and this is another step forward in the strategic plan for the future of the sport.

Tony Smith, Elite League chairman, said: “It makes a lot of sense for the sport’s governing body to take charge of the officials.

“The whole sport needs to come together and work more closely and this is just one of those steps in the right direction.”

IHUK chief referee, Simon Kirkham, said: “It fits in with the plans not just for the Elite League and Ice Hockey UK, but for the whole sport going forward.

“We will be able to monitor the officials’ performances and make best use of the officials in various parts of the UK.

“The officials will also know they have a pathway to go on and represent the UK at IIHF tournaments.

“UK officials are highly respected by the IIHF and that is shown by the amount who officiate at World Championship tournaments each year.”

GB Learn 2016 World Championship Venues

Great Britain’s national teams now know where they will travel to for their respective 2016 World Championship tournaments.
 
The tournaments were announced at the IIHF Congress taking place in Prague.
 
Great Britain Men are off to Zagreb for the World Championship (Division 1B) from 17th to 23rd April 2016. They will face hosts Croatia, as well as promoted Romania, relegated Ukraine, along with Estonia and Lithuania.
 
Great Britain Women will make the trip to Bled. As well as taking on hosts Slovenia, they will face Croatia, DPR Korea, Korea and Poland. The World Championship (Division 2A) tournament will run from 1st to 7th April 2016.
 
GB U20s will play their World Championship (Division 1B) tournament in Megeve, France. Japan, Poland, Slovenia and Ukraine complete the six-team group for the tournament, which runs from 12th to 18th December 2015.

It’s a trip to Brasov for GB U18s for the World Championship (Division 2A) from 4th to 10th April 2016. They will take on hosts Romania, along with Croatia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Poland.
 
No decision has yet been made about a venue for Great Britain Under-18 Women, with the tournament format under discussion too.
 
Ice Hockey UK general secretary, Andy French, said: “This is always an exciting time of the year when we find out where all our teams are going.
 
“The planning starts again now for all of our national teams.”

IHUK, in conjunction with Dumfries & Galloway Council, had bid to host the men’s under-20 tournament in Dumfries but missed out in the voting.
 
Jim Anderson, chairman of Ice Hockey UK, said: “We are disappointed not to win the vote. It was very close but did not go our way.
 
“We would like to thank Dumfries & Galloway Council for assisting us in our bid to host another World Championship tournament.

“We have held some great tournaments at the Dumfries Ice Bowl in the last few years and it is a real shame there will not be one in 2016.”

Weber recruits Quesnele for Blaze 2015-16 defensive corps

Genting Casino Coventry Blaze are pleased to confirm the signing of 26 year old Canadian defenceman, Mike Quesnele (prounounced QUENELLE) for the 2015/16 Elite Ice Hockey League season.

 

Hailing from Ontario, but also holding Italian citizenship, Quesnele joins the Blaze from the Lakehead University Thunderwolves where he spent the last five seasons, posting 95 points in 137 games.

 

Prior to his Thunderwolves career, Quesnele played over 300 games for the Sault Saint Marie Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League, recording 175 points. He is well known to Blaze Head Coach, Chuck Weber, having joined Weber’s Cincinnati Cyclones for their play off run to the East Coast Hockey League conference finals in 2009.

 

Despite several earlier offers to turn professional, Quenele opted to take full advantage of the OHL education support programme to complete his education before focusing full time on hockey.

“Mike is a steady, puck moving defenseman who plays with an edge,” said Weber of the player he has been monitoring throughout his University career.

“He makes a good first pass and has the ability to join the rush. He was a big part of our D group in Cincinnati that went to the conference finals in 2009 before going back to major junior for a successful over age year and then to university to get his degree.

His game really developed at university level and he is a very hard working character guy who will fit well into our structure in Coventry. Now he’s completed his education, I’m delighted to be able to bring him to Coventry.”

“I am very excited about coming over to the UK and I’m very proud to be a part of the Coventry Blaze organization,” said Quesnele.

“I’m also really looking forward to playing for Coach Weber again. We had a great run in Cincinnati and it obviously helps with me knowing what to expect from our coach and the coach knowing exactly what he is going to get from me.

“I'm looking forward to coming to England for the first time and to helping the club build on the success of last season. It's going to be a fantastic experience and I’m so looking forward to playing in front of the Blaze fans.

“So many players say it’s a great place to play and that the fans really get into the games. That’s great to hear for a player and I can’t wait to get going.”

Josh Godfrey to bring more championship winning experience to Blaze

Genting Casino Coventry Blaze are delighted to confirm the signing of 27 year old, Canadian defenceman, Josh Godfrey from Norwegian side Sparta Sarpsborg for the next two seasons.

 

The 6’2” Ontario native was a second round draft pick of the Washington Capitals in 2007 and the following season played a major role helping Team Canada to win gold at the IIHF World Under 20 Championships – picking up 5 assists, the most by any defenceman at the tournament.

 

A hugely successful spell with the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League followed including a Kelly Cup Championship winning season in 2008/09, an All Star game selection in 2010/11 and multiple American Hockey League call ups. During the 2010/11 All Star Game, Godfrey set the ECHL record for the hardest shot – recorded at 102.7mph.

 

Godfrey moved to Europe for the 2013/14 season, signing for Landshut Cannibals of the DEL2 League in Germany where he posted 46 points in 68 games, helping the Cannibals to the play off semi finals alongside current Blaze goalie, Brian Stewart.

Last season, he helped Sparta Sarpsborg to their best season for 5 years, finishing in 3rd place in the league behind Champions Hockey League sides, Stavanger and Storhamar. Godfrey posted 25 points in 45 games for the team, also reaching the semi finals of the play offs.

 

Blaze Head Coach, Chuck Weber is delighted with the capture of Godfrey – a player who has a built a great reputation as a top offensive defenceman with a huge shot, strong on the powerplay and who likes to play a physical game.

 

“Josh is a premier offensive defenceman who is highly effective in making either the first pass or exiting the zone with possession. He is very skilled at creating offence from the blue line and is always a big threat to score from the blue line with his huge shot.

 

“I coached against him for two seasons and he was someone who we always had to be aware of whenever he was on the ice. He was part of South Carolina’s 2009 Kelly Cup championship team and he’s played a lot of play off hockey in North America and in Europe. You cannot have enough of those guys in your room.”

 

Godfrey, who will combine his playing duties with a course of study at Coventry Business School, is equally pleased to be making the move to the Blaze.

 

“I’m very proud to be joining the Coventry Blaze for the next two years. They are a top quality hockey club and I’m grateful to both the team and Coventry Business School for giving me the opportunity to further my education at the same time as playing for the team. I just couldn’t pass on the opportunity to play for a first class organisation and learn at a top class University.

 

“I’m really looking forward to playing with Brian Stewart again. I’ve played both with and against him and I know how he can change a game. It will be good to be on the same side again.

 

“I’m also well aware of what Chuck Weber brings to a team. My first two years pro in South Carolina, I played against him when he was in Cincinnati and we each beat one another en route to championships in consecutive seasons. I really am very excited to be joining him in Coventry.”

 

Blaze link for local boy Clements

Following on from the announcement last week of the Blaze linking with MK Lightning, another player has signed a two way contract, local boy David Clements.

David, 20, grew up in Coventry and began his career there with the Junior Blaze. At the age of 14 he opted for a move to Canada to combine his studies with developing his ice hockey skills at a specialist prep school. During that stay his abilities got him noticed by the Great Britain junior staff, who selected him for the 2010 World Junior Championships at U18 level; the following season, he captained the team in the competition.

In 2012 he signed for Ogden Mustangs playing alongside another MKL new signing this season, Bobby Chamberlain who is also signed up on a two way contract with the Blaze. In his last two seasons is Canada David averaged just under a point per game, proving himself a valuable playmaker with 36 assists in 45 games. 

Form like that made David a hot property who attracted a lot of interest back in Britain - but he made sure he chose his own moment to return back to his home country.  “I had approaches from teams in both the EPL and Elite League last season, but I wanted another year to better myself - to make sure I was ready for the next step.

“After six years in North America I felt it was time to come home and develop myself further.  I'm very excited to have signed with MKL, and a two-way contract with Coventry Blaze helped make it an offer I couldn’t refuse!”

Lightning’s Head Coach, Pete Russell, said how pleased he was to have secured David’s signature for MKL, commenting: “He was wanted by numerous teams in the UK so I was delighted he choose us as his first challenge on returning to the UK. 

“He’s a strong character and was captain for the Ogden Mustangs in Canada last season and second amongst their defencemen in scoring - in fact, during his time playing Junior A with the Mustangs he was their all-time leading points scorer for a D-man. 

“David also has the ability to play on the powerplay in the point. He has good hands and gets his shot away well. 

“I’ve known David for many years and coached him in the Great Britain National Team at Under 20 level. Going on a two-way contract with our Elite League partners the Coventry Blaze will only add to his overall game - I’ve no doubt at all that he’s going to have a great season and I’m excited to be working with him again.”

Blaze Director of Hockey Operations James Pease added "This is another great young talent to join the link between the two clubs and David has a great chance to develop his game further under GB Head Coach Pete Russell and our very own Chuck Weber".

Clements said "After seeing what coach Weber achieved last season in Coventry last season. I think I will learn a great deal being with the Blaze this coming season."

Clements is the fourth player to sign a two way deal between the two clubs for the coming season. He joins James Griffin, Bobby Chamberlain and Lewis Hook on the 15-16 Roster.

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