Noble to play in Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze defenceman Kevin Noble will fly to Australia in June to participate in the 2016 Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic.
The five-part series contested between team's representing Canada and USA will visit Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane and for the first time Adelaide. The newly formed partnership with Wayne Gretzky is set to ensure an even stronger calibre of players for the event and 'The Great One' himself will be visiting Australia for the first time and attending the Sydney match on Saturday 25th June.
Previous events have seen former Blaze players such as Ryan Ginand, Kevin Harvey and Ned Lukacevic play alongside National Hockey League stars such as Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks) and this season with NHL All-Star MVP, John Scott who will captain Team USA.
" My good friend Adam Cracknell was able to help me secure a spot on the team," said Noble. "I'm very grateful for the opportunity to play in such a well respected series and support an amazing cause. In any given circumstance playing for Team Canada is an incredible opportunity and one you cannot turn down. Being around the talent of players this event draws in is very special and being able to support Stopconcussions and Brain Injury, as well as helping to grow the game in Australia is very special."
Noble, 28, who will return to the Blaze for the second of a two-year school deal after his Aussie experience says he enjoyed his first season in the British Elite League.
"It is a great city with great people. I look forward to seeing everyone in the fall."
Many will remember the 6'1" blue-liners early season battles with the Cardiff Devils and in particular Leigh Salters who was suspended for spearing Noble from the bench. Later, the Blaze number 56 was banned five games for adjudged clipping during a game against the Devils in the Big Blue Tent. Following the same incident, Cardiff forward Joey Martin was also handed a one-game ban for throwing a water bottle at the unsuspecting Noble.
The Blaze man whose side ended the Devils' season with a 6-2 victory in the Playoff semi-final is particularly candid about the early season disagreements.
"It's a very competitive league and all teams are trying the best they can to win every week. Sometimes things get a little heated."
One particular trait that stands out when watching the Mercyhurst College graduate play is his willingness to block shots, putting his body on the line at every opportunity to try to help his team to victory.
"I think it's just competing," commented Noble. "You want to try and do your job as a player to the best of your ability and to give the team the best chance to win every night."
Asked if there was a shot in the Elite League that he was concerned about throwing himself in front of the Sparwood, BC native said:
"It's not something I think too much about, especially in the moment. I'm just trying to get in front of the puck and keep it out of our net to give us a chance to go on the offense and put some points on the board."
Another thing you'll notice about Kevin Noble is that he has a unique warm-up routine which amongst other things involves turning Stewart's net around against the boards and firing pucks from one end to the other into the opposition's goal before leaving the ice - last.
"I don't really think they are superstitions," Noble ascertained. "I like to say it's more of a routine, because if I don't do them I don't believe it effects the way I play or the potential outcome of the game. All players have different routines they try to go through before games to get themselves ready."
Disturbing a players routine was one way Noble thought to get a competitive advantage as the Blaze took on the Cardiff Devils in the playoff semi-final and then Nottingham Panthers in the final. Prior to warm-up ending, he told British defenceman David Clements to stay on the ice for as long as he had to ensuring opposition players who liked to be last off the ice were unable to be so. Unfortunately for Noble and his teammate, the playoff finals weekend ended in disappointment with a 2-0 defeat to the hosts.
"It was pretty special to play in that game. The boys fought really hard. It was disappointing to come out on the wrong end. We lost to a quality team. I'm proud of the way our guys fought right to the end. It was a hard fought hockey game. We couldn't make enough plays when we had our chances and we had plenty of quality chances, it just wasn't our day. I look forward to trying to get back to the final again next year. You are just trying to win the final game of the season, there is no better feeling as a player."
Before arriving back in Coventry in August, not only will Noble fly out to Australia but he will also be on the ice running a annual hockey school alongside Chris Bruton who joined Noble in Coventry last season and also Brett Ponich who currently plies his trade in the ECHL with the Kalamazoo Wings.
"Columbia Valley hockey school runs from July 25th to August 8th in Invermere BC and this year we are excited to announce many new sponsors and one of UK's own, Cross Check Clothing is now on board," concluded Noble.
Everyone at Coventry Blaze would like to wish Kevin all the very best for his participation in the 2016 Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic and we'll try out best to keep fans updated with his and Team Canada's progress.