Club news

Godfrey vows to re-pay fans faith

Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman Josh Godfrey has vowed to "re-pay" fans faith as he aims to put what he describes an "incredibly disappointing" debut Elite League season behind him.

The 28-year-old will return to Coventry in August for the second of a two-year deal told us:

"I guess the fans expected more from me last year. I too was incredibly disappointed with my season overall, playing through some things and missing time with or playing with injuries. It's something hockey players are expected to do but I definitely felt frustrated about just not feeling like myself and not playing how I know I can play."

Godfrey who played hurt through Blaze's Continental Cup campaign before missing an extended period at the turn of the year says, for him the 2015/16 season came to an end too early.

"The best I felt all year was the playoff weekend! The club and fans stuck by me and supported me as best they could and I'm grateful for that. This summer I'm training differently and I'm even going to change my number. I'm going to do everything in my power to re-pay the fans faith in me. I'm excited for the new season, to be back and be healthy."

Formerly of number 7, Godfrey who scored in a 6-2 victory over the Cardiff Devils in the playoff semi-final, will look to improve on his 16 points (8+8) posted last season, something that will involve utilising his huge shot which still holds the record for hardest ever in ECHL history at 102.7 miles per-hour.

"My shot is something I've always worked on," said the Collingwood, Ontario native. "From a young age I worked and worked and worked. I would shoot in the driveway for hours on end. My Dad taught me the technique, it's not about how strong you are, it's about the transfer of energy and the leverage you use with the stick."

Speaking further about his first experience in the Elite League, Josh who has played over 60 AHL and 150 ECHL games and had experiences in both Germany and Norway before arriving in the UK said:

"Coventry is a great community with passionate fans. When things aren't going well, the fans are hard on guys. When things are rolling, we can feel them pulling on the rope with us, especially at home. The standard of play in the Elite League was surprising at first, I didn't know a ton about the league. Once I got to see some teams, I realised I knew a lot of the imports. Starting off with Cardiff, Nottingham and Sheffield, they definitely set the tone for the standard of play."

Drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2007, that same year with 5 assists in 7 games (the most for a defenceman), Godfrey was pivotal to Canada Under 20's winning gold at the World Junior Championships. Later, he too played a key role in the South Carolina Stingrays lifting the ECHL's Kelly Cup in 2008/09. He says such experience was something he tried to bring to the Blaze locker room as the club reached a second consecutive playoff final, losing out narrowly to the Nottingham Panthers.

"I've had some amazing experiences in the things I've won, being down and out in series' but still battling back to win. World Junior's is a short tournament and we battled some adversity with Sweden twice before winning gold. I've also lost in some big games too, so at the playoff weekend you try and share your experiences in relevant situations. No matter what you always stick TOGETHER."

Asked about the playoff run which ended in heart-breaking fashion last season for Godfrey and his teammates, the 6'2" defenceman reflected:

"We would have loved nothing more than to win that game, for ourselves, the club, the fans. We were killing giants. First, Sheffield then Cardiff, the final against Nottingham. Arguably the three best teams in the league. It wasn't meant to be. That doesn't make it any easier to accept but when you're able to look back and see how far we came as a team? That's amazing."

As is the case for most imports coming to the UK for the first time, Josh says the Elite League's unique structure took some time to adjust to.

"The regular season being the big trophy is definitely something imports aren't used to. That added to the Challenge Cup has a unique feel as far as hockey goes. It's almost like a football type set up."

As part of a strong returning core, a year wiser, Godfrey hopes the familiarity will ensure a quick start under the stewardship of new Head Coach Danny Stewart.

"I think we have got enough core guys back to hit the ground running and start the year strong. I believe to start any year, your goals as a team should be to compete every day in practice/gym, and to compete every night on the ice. League title, Challenge Cup, Playoff Champions, those are all goals to have. If we're focused on winning every game we play, we can achieve anything."

This season will also see the Blaze defenceman complete an MBA at Coventry University, something which he says is important to him and his other team/school mates.

"I only did two modules last semester to try and lighten the load a little bit. Stewy (Brian Stewart), Nobes (Kevin Noble) and I enjoy the challenge though. It's a strange feeling being back in school. It was a big decision in me coming to Coventry. Playing in the UK wasn't really on my radar until Stewy mentioned my name to the owners in Coventry. The school package was an integral part of me coming here, but equally my focus is on hockey and being the best that I can be on the ice next season."

Article: Craig Summerton (@block15blaze)