Assembly king Clements seeking team success
There’s often a lot more to being an Elite League Ice Hockey player than just what meets the casual eye.
That statement is one 22-year-old Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman David Clements can very much attest to.
The Contribution to the Community award winner of 2016/17 amassed over 15 assembly appearances in local schools over the past season, with many more booked in for the upcoming year.
“The assemblies are fun”, said Clements. “Kids are always intrigued to learn about hockey as it’s new to them and not a typical sport that they have been brought up around. So it's nice to teach them new things. I was proud to win the community award last season, Klotzy (Garrett Klotz) and Bouts (Shawn Boutin) were particularly great in the community too, however it was nice to be recognised for the work that I had put in.”
With the Blaze Community Foundation project flourishing, school visits have become an important activity in order to help educate children particularly about healthy eating and the importance of fitness.
“The kids favourite bit is when we dress up a pupil in some of the equipment. They all love it. A lot of them have never even heard about ice hockey so we also cover some of the rules, how long a game is etc. They are always confused how we can skate on the ice and why the puck isn’t called a ball. The questions we get are relatively similar, nothing you wouldn’t expect from 5 and 6 year-olds!”
Not only is Clements willing, but Tickets and Promotions Executive Dale Buckland says, he’s also a natural.
“Clem is a guy that is always extremely enthusiastic about our work within the community. I always receive glowing references about him when I have spoken to the schools and he is a great ambassador for this club.”
On the ice, the British defenceman registered his first professional goal against the Cardiff Devils last season, with teammate Brett Robinson making sure the marker was well remembered by grabbing the puck from Ben Bowns’ net for safekeeping.
“To be honest, I’m still unsure to this day whether that was even my goal,” laughed Clements. “A few of the guys got on my case saying it hit Robbo before it went in! However, the credit was given to me which I was very happy about. There’s hopefully more to come in the future.”
Aside from getting off the mark on the scoreboard, Clements was also awarded a first senior appearance for Team Great Britain during the past campaign.
“It was great to play in the game against Norway,” commented the former GB under-18’s Captain. “The speed of the game was so different to what I'm used to. It was a big jump to the Elite League when I first came in, and the Norway game was so different. But it was a great experience for me and great for my confidence going forward.”
Before moving back to his home-town club in 2015, Clements spent his junior years with the Ogden Mustangs, departing as Captain and the club's all-time leading point’s scorer for a defenceman. Over the six years in the WSHL, the 6’1” skater also amassed a healthy penalty minutes total of over 330 in less than half the amount of games.
Last year, that physical side came out in the Coventry born player, dropping the gloves with Dundee Stars’ Cameron McGiffin and Belfast Giants’ Colin Shields.
“I'm not much of a fighter, but I am quite bad tempered on and off the ice at times,” reflected Clements. “On the ice I can leave my frustration out there when need be and be done with it. Whether it's to spark myself or my teammates up, I’ll do whatever it takes.”
That mantra became a stark reality for Clements in a well-remembered game against the Sheffield Steelers at the Skydome Arena this past January. With the score tied at 2-2 and just over ten minutes remaining, through injury and a couple of ten minute penalties, the Brit found himself as the only recognised defenceman left on the Blaze bench.
Out he went with forwards turned defencemen, killing penalties like his life depended on it. Despite Matt Marquardt’s go-ahead goal, the depleted Blaze were to lose the game in overtime but the score-line didn’t tell half of the story.
“That game was one of my favourites from last year,” recalled David. “Yes we lost, but for personal reasons and even team reasons it was my favourite! I played in every situation possible which was great for my confidence, and the team battled so hard under tough circumstances which raised a level of spirit going forward.”
Following the signing of a new contract with his home-town club, Clements, like other returning teammates is looking to put right the wrong of missing of the playoffs in the last campaign.
To do that, Danny Stewart’s men must find their feet in a brand new conference alongside Manchester Storm and two new teams, Guildford Flames and Milton Keynes Lighting. The latter, a club whom Clements holds fond ties with, spending a short time with them on return to the UK before joining Coventry full-time mid-way through that 2015/16 season.
“Milton Keynes was a good experience for me,” said David. “The guys were great and had such a good bond which I won't forget and the fans were great down there too! It will be good to play there again this year and it should become a good rivalry which I'm excited about.”
The first trip back to Planet Ice Milton Keynes will come for Clements on Saturday 26th August in a pre-season encounter, but not before the Manchester Storm come to the Skydome Arena on Wednesday 23rd August. The Elite League season itself will begin on the 9th and 10th September, and the Blaze number 58 says it can’t come quick enough.
“Danny is building what looks to be a great squad and I can’t wait to be a part of it. I have a few personal goals that I have set for myself this season, but personal success will hopefully come with team success, which is what I want for this year. Winning to me is the most important thing!!”
We thank David for his time and look forward to seeing him back on the ice on Wednesday 23rd August vs. Manchester Storm at the Skydome Arena.