Solway Sharks confirm withdrawal from Scottish U20 League

Solway Sharks Junior Ice Hockey Club has confirmed that it has withdrawn its team from the Scottish U20 League.

The club has reluctantly reached the decision due to losing an array of players for varying, yet generally positive reasons.

The size of the playing squad has been reduced to below minimum levels, which has left the club finding solutions to support the remaining signed members.

Solway U20 head coach, Jamie Kerr, said: “Unfortunately the choice, although tough, is the only outcome open to us.

“It’s a weird situation of being a victim of our own success, as despite always being low on squad numbers for years, the quality produced has been immense season after season.

“This has seen no fewer than six players become senior Sharks relied upon as mainstays from last season to this.

“To hamper their development by taking them away from an environment that offers the level of competition that will continue their progress as seniors would be unfair.

“Since the U20 league came about from U18s in 2013, we have been runners-up five years out of six while sacrificing game day squads to push players onto the senior level when ready.

“Our progression pathway may have reduced U20 team quality on occasions, but is vital in seeing players maximise their potential while offering that conveyer belt system of pulling another younger kid up a level from the U16s.

“The overall success is underlined with most of the current senior Sharks being a product of the junior club and a host of others icing elsewhere in similar or higher-level senior leagues.”

Club chairperson, Leanne Thomson, added: “We have explored every tangible route to solve this numbers issue, with added support from Jim Paterson at SIH who has been first class in offering various options thus far.

“With half a dozen or so players stepping up to senior hockey, others moving out of town for education or taking employment opportunities, as well as the one or two that leave the sport at this age group, the numbers aren’t viable.

“We are working with SIH to offer alternative playing solutions for the small number of remaining players, but can assure everyone that there will be various options to continue in the sport either here at Solway or elsewhere while continuing to train and progress here.

“For that we would like to thank SIH’s Jim Paterson for his much-valued support.”

(Image permission: Andy Lee)