Category: Seniors

Ice Hockey UK Teams Up with NCAA and USHL to Boost Opportunities for UK Players

Ice Hockey UK (IHUK) recently announced the formation of the Ice Hockey UK Foundation. Additionally, they have further announced the Foundation’s initiative to invite eight coaches from the NCAA and USHL to the UK this summer. The aim is to inform GB Pathway parents and athletes about the academic and athletic opportunities involved in a North American college education.

Five men’s and two women’s team coaches from the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will be joined by one from the United States Hockey League (USHL), the premier junior league in the US.

This opportunity has been made possible by the incredibly kind support of a donor – who wishes to remain anonymous – and Scott Maguire.

As a parent deeply involved in ice hockey in the UK, Scott is no stranger to related philanthropic activities, having set-up three ice hockey and academic scholarships for student athletes to attend a well-known school in London.

Through Scott’s extensive NCAA ice hockey network and the funding that he and his fellow donor have arranged for the visit, the GB ice hockey community has a major opportunity to establish links with the US colleges that it is hoped will be the start of a long-term relationship.

The visit of the NCAA and USHL coaches will coincide with the soon-to-be-announced GB Programme Initiation Camps in July, as well as involving England Ice Hockey (EIH) and Scottish Ice Hockey’s (SIH) national team programmes.

The NCAA and USHL coaches will be able to see first-hand the extent of male and female, youth and junior ice hockey talent that is on offer across the whole of the UK.  They will take to the ice and showcase their own coaching skills, and off the ice share their philosophies in building successful teams.

Importantly, the coaches will reinforce the importance to GB pathway athletes and their parents of the benefits of staying in school, working hard to get good grades in secondary education, how that could lead to being offered a scholarship or financial aid to a US college and the effect this transformational life-changing opportunity could have on their life chances.

Andy Partridge, IHUK Head of Performance, said “Most of us in the UK will never have considered a US college education as a realistic prospect.

“The US coaches coming over will be telling us something very different. If you work hard, anyone who has the talent and, most importantly, is prepared to put in the hard yards on and off the ice, in training and in the classroom can be considered for a place as a student athlete at a US college such as Princeton or Penn State.”

Ron Fogarty, ex-Head Coach of the men’s Princeton Tigers, the renowned Division 1 US college hockey programme, said: “Our team of NCAA and USHL coaches are delighted to be coming to the UK to see for ourselves the youth and junior prospective men and women GB athletes.

“We’ve heard there could be untapped scholastic and athletic talent right the way through the age groups and we’ll also try to help communicate to athletes and parents the opportunities that a US college education can provide, that this isn’t completely out of reach, you just have to work hard on and off the ice.”

Ryan Ward, Head Coach of Youngstown Phantoms, the 2023 USHL Champions with six NHL draft picks on the team, said: “We are looking to establish a link with the UK to access the elite talent that this country is starting to produce.

“We pride ourselves on identifying global talent, with players on our current team from Japan and Czechia We are excited to connect with those UK players that can eventually make the leap to the USHL, whether in the near or longer term.”

Clifton Wrottesley, Chair of IHUK, said: “We are honoured to have eight of the very best college and junior coaches coming over from the US to tell us how our athletes can aspire to attend a top-notch US college to get a world-class education and play NCAA hockey in the US.

“We will be hearing more in the near future about the generosity of the group of donors that enabled this to happen, as they look to support IHUK and the GB Programme’s development activities. We’re on the cusp of something really special in the sport of ice hockey in the UK, we’re building for the long-term future.

“We have some hugely generous and visionary supporters of the sport in this country who want to see our programmes, the national team and, importantly, the individuals actually involved in playing and delivery benefit directly from this vision and ambition.

“I cannot thank Scott and his fellow donor enough for their incredibly generous offer. It will genuinely help to transform the destinies of our young up-and-coming talent to show then that hard work can and will pay off in the long run.”