Racers’ boss eager to provide young British players a pathway to the top

Tony Hand has invited coaches and players of ice hockey teams based at Murrayfield Ice Rink to a key meeting on Friday.

The former Great Britain forward, who will be director of hockey for Murrayfield Racers, plans to outline his vision for the future of the sport in Edinburgh.

Underpinning the move is Hand’s desire to develop young, British talent and open trials will be held on dates to be confirmed.

“Murrayfield Racers were once Britain’s most decorated team and I was privileged to play for the club,” he said.

“They have now been reborn and this is a new era for ice hockey at the rink. We’ve pledged to showcase the highest level of hockey possible next season.

“The recruitment process begins now. We’ve invited coaches and players from the SNL and under-20 teams, as well as other teams playing out of Murrayfield.

“We want to discuss with them the best way forward for the sport in the capital.

“Time is short and we have a lot of work to do, but we have been working hard behind-the-scenes over the past few months.

“We’re happy to take any questions at the meeting as we plan to move forward in a totally transparent way.

“This is a key meeting, but we feel it is vital that we give ambitious, young British players a pathway to the top of the sport in this country.”

Racers have entered the Scottish National League (SNL) and the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) North Cup next season.

Solway Sharks, Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Hull Pirates, Sheffield Steeldogs and Telford Tigers will join the Racers in the competition.

The Edinburgh side will play one home and one away fixture against each of the other sides, before two legged semi-finals and a final later in the year.

Sharks’ head coach Martin Grubb has welcomed the return of the Racers’ name to the sport.

“Our Scottish National League team and junior teams have played at Murrayfield regularly,” said Grubb.

“It will be an experience for the senior Sharks side to head to Edinburgh and face a team with such a storied name in Scottish and UK ice hockey.

“The Murrayfield Racers were the big rivals for my team Fife Flyers when I was growing up and I remember watching players like Tony, Rick Fera and Chris Kelland, to name a few, in the Heineken era.

“For me to now coach against a Murrayfield Racers side will be a great pleasure and it’s great to have another team north of the border.

“We’ve flown the flag in the NIHL since 2011 and hopefully this will open the door for some more crossover games in the future.”