SIH Nationals event kicks-off new era of junior development

Scottish Ice Hockey is delighted to announce the first of our new annual junior development events.

The initial SIH Nationals event has been designed to focus on the key development age groups for senior hockey and the Great Britain programme.

Scotland U15 and U17 teams will play against England North and England South teams over the weekend of May 28/29th at Dumfries Ice Bowl.

SIH Nationals spokesperson Jamie Thomson said: “The English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) going down a different path with their Junior Showcase event opened an opportunity for us to re-evaluate and plan our own events across all age groups.

“We wanted them to be more development specific and ensure each age group got the most from each event possible.

“The first SIH Nationals event will see participating teams play two full-length games per day and compete against the best players in the United Kingdom.

“We have a duty to prepare these players to progress in our game into senior hockey and the GB programme. This event will see the best the UK has to offer playing against each other.

“We will be looking to build on this event, making it a permanent feature and working with the EIHA to add extra dates to it over the coming years.

“I’d like to thank the coaching team and management from the England and GB programmes who have been fully supportive of this event, the SIH board for the backing to move forward with this and Dumfries Ice Bowl management, who have been great with their support and backing.”

The EIHA’s Technical Director for the England Programme Andy Daintith is enthusiastic about re-establishing some form of competition with teams from Scotland.

“The UK has endured some really tough times throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

“As we see a reduction in restrictions becoming more apparent, now is the right time to look forward at ways of trying to re-establish the elite levels of competitive ice hockey for the junior age groups as far as we are able to.

“In the EIHA we have found it hard to restart our Elite Player Development Programme with the demands of COVID-19 restrictions to be navigated, alongside struggles to secure ice time to suit the calendar of events that we had fixed for many years.

“Times have certainly changed, attitudes have changed, and we need to adapt and find new ways of working. In short, we need to do things differently from how they once were.

“I’m thrilled to accept SIH’s invitation to take part in this new event. Our programme has changed moving from the old format of running-clock ‘shotgun’ hockey to full-length stop-time games, which is what GB teams play in their tournaments and championships.

“We feel this is a really positive move forward, and we hope to develop a new culture around athlete development and performance as we re-energise our England team programme.”

SIH will be announcing more information in the coming weeks about this event and others in planning and will release further details as soon as possible.

(Image permission: David Strover)