In May each year, ice hockey teams from across Britain travel to Fife Ice Arena as Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club hosts the annual Hockey UK tournament. All of the KIHC teams went into the weekend with great expectation. After so much success during the season they did not want to end with disappointment in their home tournament. This is how they all got on ...
U10 FIFE EAGLES
Eagles entered with a certain air of confidence after a very successful season. Fife showed its depth by loaning eight players to other teams for the weekend.
They began against a very well known opponent, Dundee Stars, and, as has been the case all year, the young Fifers took this game to the Taysiders and ran out 6 - 1 winners.
The second game was against the East Coast Select, but again the Eagles dominated the game running out 10-0 winners.
Saturday’s last game was always going to be a fierce battle as Eagles squared up to the season’s long rivals (and the only U10 team to defeat the Eagles this season), Kilmarnock Whirlwind. In a tight game the Fife Eagles came out on top, winning a tough game 3-1.
On Sunday morning Eagles took on a Billingham side who, after two wins on Saturday, were in the mix to win the group.
Eagles won the game 2-1 to progress to the semi finals with the only 100 per cent record, scoring 21 goals and only conceding three.
Nearest foes Dundee Stars were the semi-final opponents and despite Eagles offering up their worst performance since the beginning of the season, they did enough to secure a 3-0 and a place in the final, where they would face Kilmarnock who defeated Billingham 4-3.
The final started perfectly for Eagles, as they roared into a commanding 4-0 lead by half time playing some of their best hockey of the season, in complete contrast to the semi final.
Kilmarnock pushed back, scoring two goals before Eagles got back into stride running out 6-3 winners.
Three Eagles also made the Hockey UK All-Star Team: Best Netminder – Cameron Kenny; Best Defence – Harris Taylor; Best Forward – Joe Lynch.
Fife Eagles were Brook Jansen (NM), Cameron Kenny (NM), Cody McDonald, Joe Lynch, Jamie Carson, Harris Taylor, Brodie Kay, Scott McKay, Kai Forbes, Keiran Samuel, Kian Shevlin, Cameron Wilkie, Joe Somerville, Ross Henderson, Carter Wood, Rowan Mills, Katrina Wood and Bradley Annan.
U12 KIRKCALDY REDSKINS
Redskins went into Hockey UK as the red hot favourites after clinching the league and securing the Scottish Cup final and they did not disappoint.
First up to face the young Fifers were Whitley Bay, who were beaten 4-0. Next up were Billingham, who were short benched and utilised some Fife boys for the weekend, but the momentum was clearly in the Redskins favour and they marched out an 8-0 win.
The third game of the weekend was against Murrayfield, a much tougher side after a few league encounters that went to the wire, however the Redskins were in the zone and won comfortably at 9-2.
The Sunday morning saw Dundee provide the opposition in the last of the round robin games with both teams undefeated.
It was an end to end battle resulting in a draw 1-1, this meant due to goal difference the Redskins finished top of the table and faced fourth placed Murrayfield in the semi final.
It proved to be a true nail biter, with no score until Redskins hit the net midway through the second period. Tensions were high, however the Redskins kept a cool head to slot home a further two goals to go into the final against Dundee.
The final was going to be one to watch, especially after the tight game earlier in the day, but Redskins left it late, beating Dundee 3-2 in the dying stages of the game. The goals came from Fynn Page and Harvey Topen (2).
It has been an extraordinary year for the Redskins and the coaches and manager are over the moon at the work ethic and constant grind of all the players.
Redskins success was matched in the All Star Team with four players selected: Best Netminder – Ben Keddie, Best Defence – Fynn Page; Best Defence – Lee Murison; Best Forward – Jake Grubb.
U14 KIRKCALDY/ FIFE CHIEFS
Chiefs went into Hockey UK as the new Scottish Cup and League winners, so were red hot favourites to make it a treble.
The gameplan was unfortunately thrown in the air as one of the visiting teams had to withdraw so, with no replacement team available at short notice, head coach Ricky Grubb was faced with the task of splitting up the Chiefs and entering two teams into the tournament – Kirkcaldy Chiefs and Fife Chiefs.
With two evenly matched teams, increased competition and extra ice time for every player, coach Grubb felt this would only stand the players in good stead, not only for their development but also tournament hockey and this proved the case.
The other teams that completed the under 14 line up were Murrayfield Rapiers, Billingham Stars and Solway Sharks.
The first game had the two Chiefs facing each other. The game was tied at 1-1 until the dying seconds when a speculative shot got the winner for the Kirkcaldy Chiefs.
The round robin games saw the Kirkcaldy Chiefs beat the Solway Sharks and lose narrowly to Murrayfield and Billingham.
Fife Chiefs put the disappointment of the narrow loss to Kirkcaldy Chiefs behind them to record three impressive victories over Billingam, Solway and Murrayfield.
The two Chiefs teams were drawn against each other for the second time in the semi-final. This time however the spoils went to the Fife Chiefs, although a standing ovation was given to both teams from a very supportive crowd.
The Fife Chiefs faced Billingham Stars in the final and the class and skill level from the local youngsters was a joy to watch as they claimed the silverware with a 3-0 win.
A nice touch saw the defeated Kirkcaldy Chiefs sit behind the bench for the game to support their team mates on the ice.
Five Chiefs made the All Star Team: Best Net Minder –Ben Keddie; Best Defence –Reece Kelly, Reece Cochrane; Best Forward – James Spence, Scott Jamieson.
Kirkcaldy Chiefs were: Ben Keddie, Sam Carson, Reece Kelly, Fynn Page, Ryan Ferguson, George Pitcaithly, Audrey Wood, Jonathan Balfour, Finlay Conroy, Jamie Crawford, Ross Maxwell, Andrew Thomson.
Fife Chiefs were: Darien Wood, Reece Cochrane, Harvey Topen, Lee Murison, Darren Dempsey, Lennon Donaldson, James Spence, Finley King, Sophie Campbell, Jake Grubb, Scott Jamieson, Adam Henderson.
U16 FIFE FLAMES
Flames went into the weekend with the same expectations as the rest of the KIHC teams, to win Hockey UK.
Matched up with Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Whitley Bay and the North West Stars (a team made up of players from Bradford, Blackpool and Widnes) it would not be an easy task.
Whitley Bay were despatched 3-1 in the first game early on Saturday, Aberdeen were up next,(a team parachuted into the tournament after Telford withdrew late on) and fell to a heavy defeat.
The unknown quantity of the North West Stars drew 1-1 with Flames in an excellent game and proved to be the biggest competition over the weekend, with their netminder proving difficult to beat despite the amount of rubber thrown on his net.
Kilmarnock, the closest opponents during the league season, failed to dent the Flames hopes as they crumbled in the last game of Saturday.
Onto Sunday and a semi final against Whitley Bay awaited the Flames. Once again the Whitley club could not match the Fifers three-line hockey and the hosts ran out 4-1 winners to face North West Stars in the final.
The English side could not match their effort in the group game with Flames running out 5-2 winners. The game was well contested but the Fifers strength in depth was too much for a team who lacked the three strong lines that Flames were able to roll.
The treble of League, Cup and Hockey UK was accomplished. All Star Awards went to: Best Defence – Reece Cochrane; Best Forward – Garry Simpson.
U18 FIFE FALCONS
With the last minute withdrawal of Manchester, a Scottish Select side with a couple of eager lads from Whitley took their place, to join Solway Sharks, North Ayrshire Devils, Sheffield Steeldogs and hosts Fife Falcons at this year’s tournament.
Solway went through the round robin stage undefeated and were group winners. Both Fife and the Scottish select had good and bad phases but went through as well.
This left one place open and a Sunday morning showdown between Sheffield and North Ayr for the last semi-final slot saw Devils go through to meet Falcons ,with the Select taking on Solway.
The first semi-final saw Solway beat the Select comprehensively. After a misfiring goalless draw in the round robin a close game was again expected between Falcons and Devils in the second semif-inal.
And so it proved, with a cracking goal from Falcon’s U18 All Star Chad Smith the only difference between the teams for much of the match, until Dom Degorski sneaked in a second goal late in the second half securing Falcons progression to the final.
Solway appeared to have the upper hand going into the final, having already beaten Falcons 1-0 in the group phase, the only tournament goal conceded by Falcons All-Star net minder Renny Marr.
However this proved to be a much different game as Falcons got at their opponents from the puck drop, with Aaron Robertson especially taking the game to the Sharks.
Falcons took a two-goal lead into the interval thanks to strikes from Garry Simpson Dom Degorski.
The second half saw the match continue at a high tempo, until a series of penalties against Falcons gave Solway a full five on three penalty.
However, only a few seconds after having their line-up fully restored Falcons went up the ice and Marty Simpson fired home from close range for 3-0.
This finished the game as a contest as Sharks heads dropped and a further two goals from Aaron Roberson and Chad Smith added icing to the cake.
All the Falcons played their part in this tournament victory including Adam Farmer, Gregor Smith, Aaron White, Zander Plews, Liam Danskin, Chris Miller, Ryan Todd, Coach Scott Plews and manager Diane Farmer.
The Hockey UK victory meant Fife Falcons completing the full sweep of honours for the season.
Three Falcons players also made the All Star Team: Best Netminder – Renny Marr; Best Defence – Tyler Plews; Best Forward – Chad Smith.
SNL KIRKCALDY/FIFE KESTRELS
Due to the large number of players available to play in the SNL Hockey UK, Kestrels entered two teams - the whites, Fife Kestrels, and the blues - Kirkcaldy Kestrels.
The two home teams got the SNL competition underway - a scoreless draw, a fair result. The whites then went on to draw against Moray, lose to Aberdeen & beat Dundee Comets
With the blues drawing with Comets, winning against Moray and losing to Aberdeen, this meant the two home teams would meet in the semi-finals.
This game turned out to be one of the most keenly fought of the weekend with penalty shots needed to separate the teams. Fife were the victors, scoring two of their penalty shots and the whites failing to find the net. Fife Kestrels then went on to beat Aberdeen convincingly in the final.
All Star selections demonstrated the Kestrels domination of the tournament: Best Netminder – Renny Marr; Best Defence – Tyler Plews; Best Forward – Liam Cassidy; Best Forward – Andy Finlay.