The first event in an expanded competition for junior players in the UK takes place on Saturday at Dumfries Ice Bowl as the U11 Conference Series begins.
Traditionally the Conference sides – a Scottish Conference plus four English regions – only play competitively at the season ending tournament in May.
Now the EIHA and SIHA have formulated the U11 Conference Series to increase the level of competition for the players – they will meet three times in full day tournaments before May’s finale at Conference Weekend.
The action gets underway at 6.45am on Saturday morning with the first of ten matches – 3 × 15-minute period games – and rolls through until around 6.30pm in the evening when the hooter sounds on the final game of the round robin competition.
However, the day doesn’t end there. Following the Conference Series, the Ice Bowl’s senior club Solway Sharks are playing their National Ice Hockey League game against Deeside Dragons (face-off 7.00pm).
All players involved in the tournament can watch the NIHL action for free courtesy of Solway, while adults watching the tournament can stay for just £5 (normal adult admission £9).
The JLMC are grateful to the Sharks’ management for their generous offer and hope players and parents will take advantage to watch the senior side in action.
Sharks’ head coach Martin Grubb said: “Everyone at the Ice Bowl is delighted to be hosting the first U11 Conference Series event.
“We look forward to seeing some future talent on the ice during the day and having the players as our guests in the evening to watch the National League game.”
JLMC Chair Jacqueline Pye added: “We’re all excited for this first U11 series and can’t wait for the games to start.
“This is a new event for us and everyone in EIHA and SIHA is confident it’s the right way to go for development of our younger players.
“More competition against better players throughout the season, still ending up with the showcase that is Conference Weekend.”
Admission for spectators at U11 Conference Series in Dumfries is FREE. Further events will take place in January and March 2018.
Please click here to view the Scotland squad and the full schedule of games.
(Image permission: Mark Paterson)