Taken from an article in the South Wales Echo (Wednesday 16th July):
Cardiff Ice Hounds Progress to the Play-off Final
At a time when most people are contemplating going to bed, there are a group of nocturnal ice hockey players who are only just kitting up to play the sport they love.
Welcome to the Recreational Hockey League, often referred to as Rec Hockey and undoubtedly known as the Beer League. Teams from all over the U.K. battle it out every weekend all over the country.
The teams consist of ex-professional and semi-professional players, players who played as juniors and gave up due to work and family commitments or ice hockey fans that simply want to play the game.
The formula produces very competitive ice hockey which is enjoyed by over 100 players in the City of Cardiff alone.
Rec hockey games normally face-off when rink ice time is made available and the teams often have to fit in after the professional teams and public skating sessions which can lead to very late face-off times which isn’t too bad when the game is in Cardiff but when you are playing in Alexandra Palace in London at 11 p.m. you get to see a deserted M4 on the return coach journey.
Despite the late face- off times the players enjoy great banter between each other which combined with winning games adds to the appeal of playing the sport.
A great example of where this combination works is at the Cardiff Ice Hounds, founded in 2006 by current Hound’s players Chris Chapman and Craig Balchin as a team where people who love the game can play. The team has improved over the years attracting fantastic players including several ex-Cardiff Devils players such as: Dan Blakemore(Coach), Mike Newbury and Dave Owen aka Dease.
2014 has been a defining year for the Hounds as they have made a number of key signings who have taken the team to another level, so much so that the team has now reached the play-off final showdown against Bracknell Blizzard.
Cardiff Ice Hounds made their way through the quarter finals beating Cardiff Eagles 7-0 then had a tough battle over two legs with one of the strongest Rec. ice hockey teams around, the Slough Satans. After six periods of hockey, the Hounds and Satans were tied at 12-12. The game hosted at Slough Ice Rink on Saturday 5th July was a nail biter and went down to penalties. Three players from each side took turns to try and outwit their opposing netminder. After three penalty shots the game was still level after both teams scored one each. This was then followed by sudden death penalties; up stepped Mike Newbury for the Hounds who sent the netminder the wrong way and placed the puck high into the back of the net. Then it was Slough’s turn. The Hound’s netminder Michael Clubb pulled off an amazing pad save to win the game for the Hounds. The remainder of the Hound’s bench took to the ice to celebrate engulfing Michael Clubb in a sea of blue shirts.
Coach Blakemore commented: “2014 has been an amazing year for the Hounds and the Rec. hockey league itself, the standard in the league has improved significantly and the Hound’s team is much stronger. I am really pleased with the performance of the whole team. Everyone gives 100% when they put on the Hound’s shirt. We have shown we can win games comfortably and also grind out wins when required. It is also great to see the growing number of fans coming to see the guys play. It is a great team and we have here and free for spectators to watch.
Blakemore continued, “we now have a massive game against Bracknell. They are a very strong side but we have shown we can compete and we have the desire to win trophies so let’s see what happens next”.
Cardiff Ice Hounds are also taking part in The Cardiff Annual Fundraising Festival and they will be representing Kidney Wales foundation on August 3rd at Planet Ice, Cardiff.