Clements ready to "push" again for Blaze
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman David Clements has expressed his desire and commitment to push himself harder and further next season as he prepares for a second Elite League season with his home-town club.
“This summer I'm just going to work on getting in the best shape possible, get faster, stronger and push myself to be as prepared as I possibly can be for when August comes around.”
The 21-year-old who joined Blaze full-time last November after a brief stint in the EPIHL with Milton Keynes Lightning as part of a two-way deal with Coventry says the move, and in particular working with departing Head Coach Chuck Weber benefited him:
“I remember my first two games full-time for Blaze, with the injury situation I was given and trusted with a lot of ice time. But I feel I embraced it and played pretty well. It was nice to have guys around me who had my back in a new team. Chuck (Weber) helped me a lot and made me a better player away from the puck which was something I needed to improve on. He had a lot of specific detail in his coaching style so it was good to be around someone with so much knowledge.”
Weber, throughout last season was full of praise for the youngster citing his positional sense, intelligence and use of the puck as huge plusses, skills seemingly acquired by making the brave and bold step to move to North America at the age of 14.
“Funnily enough it was actually Danny Stewart who recommended me to a boarding school in Notre Dame as he attended the school for four years. My decision was all based on improving and to pursue my hockey career, I then moved on to Ogden (Mustangs) for three seasons where I felt I did well enough.”
The modest Clements in fact did better than “well enough”, being named Captain in his second season, something which the youngster thrived upon as further evidenced by his previous selection as Captain for the Great Britain under 18's team.
“I enjoyed being a Captain, I like being a leader and helping other guys out where I can.”
One statistic that sticks out from David's time with the Utah based Mustangs are his penalty minutes which total over 250 in just over 120 games, a characteristic that we are perhaps yet to see in Coventry.
"I just got into a bit of trouble now and then," smirked Clements. It was nothing serious."
Less surprisingly for fans who have seen the smooth-skating defenceman's style of play is that Clements left Ogden as the club’s all-time leading point’s scorer for a defenceman, as well as being fourth for all-time points by any skater and second in the list for all-time assists.
Despite a positive first professional season in the UK with Blaze, it was a year which ended in heartache for the Coventry native as the club were unable to retain the Playoff trophy, losing to Nottingham Panthers in the final.
“The final was heart-breaking! I'd never been a part of something like that before. The boys were all so close at that point in the season and it was heart-breaking to go so far, but not close enough when it mattered most. It hurt me, it hurt all the boys but I will use the experience as a positive and it will drive me and the others on I am sure.”
It’d be amiss to talk about the playoff finals without asking David about his ‘antics’ before the semi-final and final, where he made a name for himself by refusing to leave the ice after warm-up, much to the amusement of the majority of the NIC.
“It was Nobes’ (Kevin Noble’s) idea," laughed Clements. "He usually stays on the ice until the end but he told me to stay out and mess with the Devils players. It wasn't planned and I never intended to stay out for as long as I did but I had fun with it. I’m not sure who the official was on the Sunday before the final but he just told me to get off and there was nothing I could really do, but I made sure I was last off no matter what! I am glad the fans enjoyed it. I have been asked quite a lot about it. It’s just a shame it didn’t have the same effect on the final as it did the semi-final against Cardiff!”
Putting last season behind him, Clements now looks forward to working with the man who gave him the wise advice to advance his hockey career and move to North America all those years earlier, new Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart.
“I'm very excited to be working with him. He's helped me a lot already over the last six years and I know he'll continue to push me to be the best I can be. I can’t wait for the upcoming season.”
With ex-Blaze and British legend Jonathan Weaver heading towards the final years of his career, there’s an opening for an attack-minded British defenceman to jump in to the National team fold, something which Clements says he has his sights set-on.
“Of course I want to make the GB squad in future. It is something I think about of course, I think every British kid should strive towards playing for their country and I will push myself until I get the chance but until then I'll concentrate on getting better and winning games with Coventry.”
For some hockey players the off-season is seen as a time to unwind and relax. Not for the Blaze number 58 though who concludes:
“I'm pretty family orientated but that isn't how I relax as seven sisters and three nieces certainly isn't a relaxing environment! Outside of hockey though I'll be doing a bit of work, maybe enjoying the sun and course spending time in the gym and working out ready for the new season!”