The first-ever SIH Nationals event staged at Dumfries Ice Bowl over the weekend marked a significant change in junior development in the United Kingdom.
Teams from Scotland and England competed in a round-robin tournament at U15 and U17 levels over two thrilling days of action.
With a dozen 60-minute ‘stop clock’ games, the players had ample opportunity to impress the watching Great Britain coaches.
A strong England North team came out on top in the U15 age group, although they were held to a 3-3 draw by Scotland in their final game of the weekend.
The U17 tournament was a close affair, with all three teams recording a win on the first day.
England South started the second day with a narrow 3-2 win over England North and followed up with a 2-2 draw against Scotland.
This left the hosts needing to beat England North in the last game to join them at the top of the standings.
Scotland trailed 3-1 at the halfway mark, but they battled back to secure a deserved 6-4 victory and end the weekend positively.
Solway Sharks and Scotland coach Jamie Thomson, who played a key role in organising the event, described it as a ‘huge success’.
“SIH Nationals was created to ensure our junior players could showcase their talent to the GB coaches and give them something to work towards during the season,” he said.
“The feedback has been amazing, and the event was a huge success. Scottish Ice Hockey would like to thank the English Ice Hockey Association for accepting the invitation.
“We hope they accept it again in the future as we look to build on this and work together on future development projects.
“We’d like to thank the staff at Dumfries Ice Bowl, who are always great hosts in their fantastic facility.
“A special word too for all the team staff, coaches, managers, goal judges and volunteers who helped the event run smoothly.
“They include SIH interim chair Mike Stewart, who was there doing the clock throughout the weekend.
“Craig Simpson kept us updated and entertained from the DJ booth, while Solway’s Peam Stenton helped all the teams with their equipment.
“Thanks also to Helen Hobbins for taking pictures at the event.
“Finally, a massive thank you to all the parents and players for committing to the event – you made it a huge success.
“SIH is committed to building on this event and others like it in the future, and we welcome any fresh ideas people may have.
“We encourage you to send them to us for discussion – please feel free to contact us via direct message on our social channels.”