For years the UK inline hockey scene has been a total mess. We are not sugar coating it. It was a mess where you had a whole bunch of different leagues being run and all seemed to bicker amongst each other on who does things right and what the other leagues did was completely and utterly wrong.

 

But that has all changed today. All leagues that were affiliated with the IIHF will be merging to create Inline UK. Former regional leagues will be grouped together in new leagues (see below). A source has told us that there are plans for a nationwide – top-flight – league in the works for the future. The planned top-flight league structure would mean that each purpose built rink in the UK would have one ‘home’ team each, thus forming the league. There is still work to be done around the set up of the top league, but we do hope that this will happen.

The new leagues are as follow:

  • British Rink Hockey Association (BRHA) will become Inline UK South
  • GBHI North Wales will become Inline UK North Wales
  • GBHI Midlands will become Inline UK Midlands
  • GBHI Yorkshire will become Inline UK Metal Monster Yorkshire
  • North West Inline Hockey League will become Inline UK Northwest
  • New regions include Inline UK Isle of Man and Inline UK West

 

This now leaves UK with Inline UK league, governed by IIHF rules and regulations and with FIRS  leagues such as BIPHA, bringing the UK inline hockey structure in-line with format seen across Europe. Each region will run their regular seasons exactly as planned ahead of the Inline UK launch and league winners will advance to national finals in the summer of 2015. 

 

The move is most welcome and will certainly allow UK inline hockey to grow and means that there are now better opportunities for competition and player development as opposed to in the old, fragmented format. The change is something that players have been begging for, for a number of years.

 

Our source told us that majority of the Inline UK games will be played in purpose built rinks, as opposed to sports halls. This gives inline hockey in the UK a better chance for growth and for people to access the sport. Playing games in rinks as opposed to sports halls will mean that players will learn the dynamics of the game for international tournaments and will serve as a good learning curve for those that take the inline hockey route to ice hockey. Additionally, playing the game in a purpose built rink is safer than it is in a sports hall setting.

 

The problem with independent, regional leagues was that there was low interest in the sport, except for the local areas. The nationwide competition will surely increase the visibility of the game a little bit and if nothing else, it will give team GB Inline hockey a greater pool of prospects to tap into, that may have flown under the radar in the fragmented old system.

 

Additionally all Inline UK games will be streamed online, with live statistics appearing online as well, which is likely to improve visibility and  interest around the game and bring in sponsors for the league and teams, which is vital for the survival of the game.

 

There is still the chance that some teams may not join in with Inline UK and may defect to FIRS governed leagues, or set up new leagues on their own, however our source said that this is unlikely as players have demanded the unification of leagues for a long time. Additionally there was speculation that some FIRS/BIPHA teams might defect and join Inline UK.

 

Now if only ice hockey would do the same and move to a unified structure, instead of mess around with the whole IHUK and EIHA situation and brought live streaming to all games, across all leagues.

 

The full press release from Inline UK:

 

Introducing INLINE UK

We are pleased to announce the start of a new and exciting chapter for inline hockey in the UK. The sport has been played in the country for over 30 years in various regional leagues run by dedicated volunteers. The sport has given so much to so many players, officials and fans, but it has always been fragmented. Players and fans want and deserve better.

 There have been repeated calls from the hockey community that the leagues should join together and league managers have heard these calls. It is with great pride that we, the Inline UK national committee, are announcing that we have reached an agreement to join forces under a new brand, Inline UK.

Founding members of Inline UK, and the new Inline UK regions are: • British Rink Hockey Association (BRHA) –> Inline UK South • GBHI North Wales –> Inline UK North Wales • GBHI Midlands –> Inline UK Midlands • GBHI Yorkshire –> Inline UK Metal Monster Yorkshire • North West Inline Hockey League –> Inline UK Northwest • New region: Inline UK Isle of Man • New region: Inline UK West

The above league executives have agreed to be founding members of Inline UK, subject to league member approval where constitutionally required. Inline UK games will be played following the IIHF rulebook. Each region will run their regular seasons exactly as planned ahead of the Inline UK launch and league winners will advance to national finals in the summer of 2015. United Kingdom will finally have a true national champion. Any questions about Inline UK can be directed to the regional league executives or to the national executive through our website and Facebook page.


One of Finland’s biggest hockey stars, Saku Koivu has called it a career today. Koivu, during his NHL career was a huge inspiration for me as a player and that I wanted to model myself after. I wanted to be a reliable two-way player, just like Koivu. The reason why Saku Koivu became such an inspiration to me was because we were both the same size and stature. Koivu proved that he could play like a big player, night in, night out, sometimes at a high cost, which lead to his injury history.

 

Koivu’s stature made him an extremely hard worker off the ice, which is how I wanted to model myself as a player. His dedication for the sport, despite battling difficult injuries or cancer, was immense and it was largely thanks to Koivu’s return from cancer that inspired me to take up the sport again, after I had fallen out of love with it. I remember thinking to myself: “If he comes back from cancer, what’s stopping me from coming back from a knee injury.”

 

As the Captain of the Canadiens, Koivu taught me a lot about leadership. Watching him in press scrums during the Canadiens’ woeful years, he conducted himself with class, despite carrying the hopes of an entire province on his back. Koivu always lead with example on the ice, whether it was for the Habs or for the Finnish national team, which I always aspired to do for my own team. It was leaving your heart out on to the ice after every game you played.

 

Where Koivu may not have reached the heights of the NHL’s scoring charts, he was a widely respected player across the entire league. One of those players that no-one had nothing but good things to say. Koivu was never a big fan of being in the spotlight, despite shouldering the C for the Canadiens for the better part of a decade.

 

There was a story about the Koivu brothers in the Finnish media which said that they absolutely hate losing and the reporter – whose name escapes me – said that Saku and Mikko are the types of players that hate losing so much, that the loss will eat at them for months and will fuel their desire to succeed. It is exactly what a great leader should be all about. Hating losing so much, you push yourself and your team to the limit so that you can win again. And again. And again.

 

Whilst Saku may not read this, I wanted to – in some way – acknowledge and thank him for the inspiration he provided me with for my own career, how you need to prepare as an athlete of a smaller stature and how to be a leader.

 

Kiitos, Saku


Yaro3It has been three years since the tragic loss of the entire Yaroslav Lokomotiv hockey team and most of the flight crew when the teams’ Yak-42 plane crashed shortly after take-off. Though there were two initial survivors, player Alexander Galimov and flight engineer Alexander Sitzov, Galimov sadly passed away in hospital due to the injuries he sustained in the crash

 

There were several known players and legends in their respective countries lost in the disaster, leaving the hockey world with gut wrenching pain and sadness of the loss. The hockey world pulled together with emotional tributes pouring out to the team, its fans and the victims’ families. The summer of 2011 had been tough for hockey fans before that with the loss of Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. All lives lost too soon. Every year, the world wide hockey community comes together with tributes to those it lost in the summer of 2011. Every player and team member is remembered and their memories live on. 

The Yaroslav air disaster is an incident that most hockey fans remember where they were and what they were doing. So here is my account of the day, 7th of September 2011:

I was at work and I remember it was a relatively quiet day, which was unusual. I was monitoring news feeds and I came across a news alert on one of the international news feeds and on Slava Malamud’s twitter feed that a plane carrying the Yaroslav Lokomotiv hockey team had crashed after take-off. I started to scour for more information and as more information came available, the bleaker the news. I remember that there was confusion whether Ruslan Salei was on board the plane, with some tweets and news outlets saying that he had been in touch with his family, or that he had traveled to Minsk ahead of his team. 

When the news came through that most of the people on board the plane had perished, I just stopped. I went into a state of shock and disbelief. There were players on the plane I had watched play, met (Karlis Skrastins while he played for TPS in Finland) and whose hockey cards I had in my collections. When the televised images from Yaroslav came through with the fans in mourning, I couldn’t hold back my tears. I had to excuse myself to the bathroom and I cried. I felt for the families of those who were lost and the fans of the team. 

The rest of the day was a blur, watching and reading the reactions and the overwhelming support that fans of the sport andRussia Crash beyond showed their condolences to the victims and their families. 

I remember that my team had a game the weekend after the disaster and rightly, as most games across the world, held a minute of silence in respect to those who the hockey community lost. I remember tweeting that the best way to remember those who perished was to play and enjoy every game you play, as those aboard the plane did. They made their childhood hobbies into a job and loved every minute of it. 

Three years on and the pain of the loss – I can only imagine – is still intense for the families, but on the 7th of September, millions of players and fans world wide will spare their thoughts and condolences to the families of those that were lost. 

We will remember them. 

 Yaro2 


SuccessisbuiltFans always expect that their teams perform well – and ideally win every game – and fans have the absolute right to want success. There are expectations that teams and players need to meet, week in and week out. There are the expectations for the entire team from the fans and on an individual level, the expectations from the coaching staff.

 

Success is something that every player wants. For their team and for themselves. Otherwise, why play the game if you don’t want to succeed and not feel the elation of winning a game. Success is something that doesn’t magically happen on a game night. It is a long, drawn-out process throughout countless hours of work, sweat and pain. Success is built when there are no eyes on you. It happens at the gym, it happens on the roads, it happens on the bike. It even happens on the trainers table or with the physiotherapist. Success is built when you are on the ice with your team. It is built in bag skates, flow drills, set plays. It is built by countless and countless of repetitions of weights, drills, shots, jumps and miles pedalled on a bike.

 

Success is not something that is achieved overnight. Players can’t expect to be successful just by turning up to training and have the expectation that their effort on the ice will guarantee them success in the long run. The hockey season is a gruelling ride, with all its bumps and bruises and frustrations. What the fans see, is the culmination of all the work that has been taking place out of sight.

 

Success requires commitment. It requires hard work. It requires sacrifice. It requires discipline. It requires a goal, something that unifies a group of individuals to come together and work for that goal. It means leaving personal differences aside and playing for the logo on the front of your jersey and for the goal of becoming a champion.

 

The commitment fuels motivation and success, that success will player through a rock when it comes to crunch time. But all this underpinned by the work that each player does on and off the ice when the stands are empty and when no one is watching you.

 

The signs of success, are not seen on the ice in a 60 minute game. It is seen in the sweat dripping on to the gym floor and on to the ice.  

Review: CCM Resistance Helmet

Posted: September 1, 2014 in hockey, ice hockey, Sports

CCMRES1The CCM Resistance is the first major helmet re-design since CCM introduced its Vector line of helmets a few years ago. While the shell of the helmet still bears a resemblance to the old V-line of helmets, it is a completely new helmet and a first for CCM in many ways.

 

The helmet has a one-piece shell design and a single point of adjustment at the back of the helmet. In a lot of ways this helmet is directly comparable to Bauer’s IMS range (the old Messier project helmet) and Bauer’s RE-AKT (though RE-AKT uses a two piece shell).  The news of CCM’s helmet redesign came in 2012 Forbes article, where the company said that it would be taking direct aim at its competitors and with its unique selling point being the reduction of concussions caused by rotational impact forces. Rotational impacts occur during hockey game, not only from direct impacts to the head. These forces create a spinning effect that can be devastating to a player. Bauer first introduced reduction system in its RE-AKT helmet and some of the features from the RE-AKT can be found in the top of the range IMS helmet.

 

Where CCM claims it has made significant strides in research towards reducing these impact forces, it is still worth bearing in mind that – like with any helmet – they do not protect you 100% from a concussion. Like the IMS range from Bauer, the emphasis is on the reduction of the risk of a concussion.

 

The inside:

What’sCCMRES2 new about the helmet is its Rotational Energy Dampening (R.E.D) system. This is a series of red gel pods that are placed between the shell and the liner of the helmet. The R.E.D system is complemented by an impact pod that sits on top of it, similar to the Seven Technology developed by Cascade sport for the Messier Project helmet (now Bauer’s IMS range). The way that the two technologies differ is that the IMS helmet’s Seven Technology pods have been designed to return to their original form after multiple impacts, which reduces some of the rotational forces and follow on impacts, such as hitting your head on a plexi and then on the ice. In the Resistance helmet from CCM, the R.E.D system with the impact pods have been designed to slow down the rotational forces, as well as spread the impact energy throughout the helmet, as opposed to the head absorbing the full force of an impact (both rotational and linear impacts).

 

The impact pods and R.E.D system is covered by CCM’s traditional EPP foam that it has used across the Vector line of helmets and other protective pieces of equipment.  The EPP foam is used to bring an added level of comfort and to help shape the helmet to suit on player’s head shape to further improve fit.

 

Fit:CCMRES3

As with the M11 helmet that we reviewed few years ago, one of the big benefits of the helmet was its fit. The same goes for the CCM Resistance helmet. Thanks to its single point tool free adjustment, you can get the helmet to fit comfortably on your head and ensure that the helmet doesn’t move away from its place.

 

CCM has achieved this, similar to the RE-AKT and IMS helmets, by placing the adjustment tool by the occipital bone. Similar to the M11, this reduces the pressure that you sometimes get with helmets where the adjustment is done on the sides as the adjustment is done by tightening the helmet around the forehead. Another positive from the single tool adjustment at the back of the helmet is that it reduces some of the weak points seen in helmets where adjustments are made on the side.

 

You can quite comfortably shake your head with the CCM Resistance helmet on and it will not move out of place. This is so key in the modern game as many concussions and head injuries happen when the head makes contact with the ice and/or boards whilst it is out of place. By keeping the helmet securely on the head, it will do a better job at absorbing the impact forces.

 

However, it is important to note that it will take a few times to wear it to achieve the perfect fit and the first couple of times that we wore the helmet, it felt awkward on the head, but it finds its fit quickly. (To be fair, the tester has a funnily shaped head to begin with so every helmet takes a bit longer to break in).

 

Once the helmet has been broken in, it is almost un-noticeable on the head. There is no compression or discomfort and the degree of airflow the helmet provides is superior to some of the other helmets on the market.

 

However, the biggest thing for us – like with the M11 – is the fit. Once you have adjusted the helmet to sit on your head, it will not move from its place with ease. You would have to be rocked pretty hard, or

 

Fitting visor/cage:

The slight downside we noticed with the helmet was when it came down to fitting a visor on the helmet. It was a fairly fiddly process, thanks to the EPP foam padding that sits just in front of the mounts for the visor. Also, we prefer to wear our helmets without the ear guards and these were particularly tricky to remove as they are glued into the foam. We understand that they are there to protect the ears from any direct impacts, but like a lot of pro-players, we prefer to wear the helmet without the guards.

We fitted the Hejduk H700 Pro-line visor to it. We had to do a fair bit of tweaking around the visor as part of it wouldn’t sit on the helmet properly thanks to the curved design of the helmet. The visor fit eventually, but it wasn’t the most straight forward of tasks we’ve undertaken on a helmet. We also tested it with the Hejduk MHX visor and Oakley’s Pro Cut visor, both of which were easy to adjust.

It is therefore worth speaking to your retailer about the best fitting visor as some visor designs might make it a bit tricky to fit.

 

We are not sure whether removing the ear guards will void the warranty of the helmet, so it is something that you might want to check with your retailer when purchasing the helmet. Removing the ear guards hasn’t changed the fit of the helmet or damaged the liner or pods so the helmet is still safe and secure to wear.

 

The CCM Resistance helmet (and other helmets in the range) can be purchased with a cage combo, so if it’s your thing to wear a cage, you might want to go for the combo helmet to avoid some of the fiddling around.

 

Overall

CCM has invested a lot of time into the design of the helmet, and in the process it has designed a helmet that is comfortable and is housed with great technologies. Admittedly – and this goes for every helmet on the market – it won’t prevent concussion from happening, but like its competitors (RE-AKT and IMS series) it has been designed to reduce the risk of sustaining one. One of the big things for us has been the fit of the helmet as it won’t move from its place once adjusted appropriately. The Resistance helmet is a major improvement on the V-10 helmet and definitely one of the industry leading helmets, both in design and protection.

We would thoroughly recommend the CCM Resistance helmet to any player who wants to ensure that they have the best possible protection for their head. However, our recommendation would be to tryout as many helmets as possible to find the most suitable one for your head and for your playing purposes.

 

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Significant improvement from the V-10
  • Excellent fit. Does not move out of place
  • Easy to adjust
  • Good ventilation throughout

Cons:

  • Fiddly to remove ear protectors (Check with your retailer if this voids warranty)
  • Check with retailer which visor makes are most suitable

 

#Stopbullying

Posted: September 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

Dear student returning to school or just starting your educational journey,

If you see someone at school who has no friends or is being bullied because they are ‘different’, shy or because he/she doesn’t have the trendiest clothes or gadgets, go and stand up for them and tell the bullies to STOP!

You can make a real difference into someone’s day by just saying “hi” or by smiling at someone who may not have any friends. It only takes 17 facial muscles to smile, so put them to good use.

There is NOTHING cool about bullying and a student that goes and stops it is way tougher and braver than bullies will ever be.

(This was originally published on the Extreme Dudeson’s facebook page in Finnish, but the message is pertinent and something worth sharing).

 

With the way we communicate today, bullying doesn’t always stop at the school yard, but extends to the life at home via the internet and can have a huge impact on a child’s life (or anyone’s for that matter). If you are being bullied at school and/or online, make sure that you talk to your teachers/parents/friends about it, so that it can be stopped. It is NOT a sign of weakness to tell someone.

 

To those who know/witness bullying, like the above message says, go and stop it, or go tell your teacher.

There are good resources on line such

as: http://www.stopbullying.gov/, http://www.childline.org.uk/Explore/Bullying/Pages/Bullying.aspx?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=UK_GO_S_E_GEN_New_Grant_ChildLine_Bullying&utm_term=stop_bullying&gclid=CJrwq6jXv8ACFVDItAod-xIACA&gclsrc=aw.ds, http://www.kidscape.org.uk/?gclid=CJDgvrXXv8ACFSKWtAodCF8AoA

 

The frustration mounts

Posted: August 1, 2014 in fitness, hockey, ice hockey

I haven’t been updating people much on the shoulder operation recovery in the past few months, but that’s mainly because there hasn’t been much to update on. I saw my consultant a week ago and I was allowed to return to weight training, which I felt was great news, and to be fair it is great news. It beats doing just body weight exercises, but the return to the free weight area hasn’t been as straight forward as I had hoped.

 

I posted a picture on Instagram of what I can bench at the moment.  Lifting just the bar is far from ideal at this stage, but I sort of understand it. I have had three months off and not loading the right arm with any weight. What is still more frustrating is that I can’t seem to get the full range of motion into the lifts. I guess those are the anchors that are holding the joint back.

 

It has been fairly frustrating as I haven’t been able to complete some of the exercises thanks to the joint not having full range of motion with a weight load on it, or that the joint is still sore when trying to do something like a power clean or a clean w/jerk.

 

I was never the biggest of guys in the gym, but I’ve gone to the guy in the weights area that is using a 2kg weight to do flyes and deadlifting 20 kg, I’m trying to understand that it is all part of the recovery process. I think the reason why it is so frustrating is because I had expected that I would just waltz right on in and start lifting the amounts that I had been before the operation.

 

Maybe it has only now dawned on me, that the injury that I carried was a rather big deal, if it required this amount of fixing.

 

What I’m now focussing on in physio therapy is to strengthen the muscles around the shoulder, which is fine and I actually quite enjoy it, as I can see some progress. The least enjoyable part of the whole recovery process is the stretches that I have to do.

 

What I’m doing at the moment is laying on my right hand side on a bed/couch with my arm bent in a 90 degree angle. I then need to use either my left hand or a stick to push my right arm down. The pain is excruciating, almost to the point that I almost want to throw up, but it is essential that I do it, or otherwise it will affect life on and off the rink. Permanently. The first few are painful, but after two or three stretches I can get my arm below the line of the mattress. But I’d need to get it to bend good 20 degrees more. In terms of pain, that is the single most painful thing about this whole process, apart from waking up right after the operation.

 

But as the old Finnish proverb goes: “Onwards, said grandma while stuck in the snow.”