Coach’s Corner

Fourth season complete.

It’s amazing to look back and where we have gone as a club and league as a whole over the last four years. I remember the first time I walked in the Ryde Arena with Steve and Geoff and thinking what am I getting myself into here. All of those thoughts left my mind after our first training session and the realisation that the Raiders were a team that I would help get back to where they deserved to be and a team the fans could be proud of.

Steve and Geoff have given me the resources to build competitive teams and for that I owe then a great deal. They are always accommodating and there for me when I need some advice about a player or a situation and I think our relationship is stronger than most coach-owner relationships around British Ice Hockey.

This season has been no different, we built one of the youngest teams in the league and anchored it around stand out goalie Matt Colclough. He returned to us a much more experienced goalie and one that we could depend on after a season playing in the EPL in Basingstoke. Matt was a big reason for our Southwest Cup victory against Chelmsford and I’m hoping he can even raise his game again for the playoff push starting next week.

We are all going to have to raise our game once again for the playoffs, it’s a trophy we haven’t won yet. We were fortunate enough to win the league two years ago and make the playoff finals twice although we lost to Bracknell and Chelmsford respectively. So, I’m hoping this is going to be our year. The best part about the play-off is that everyone gets a clean slate, it doesn’t matter where you finish the league campaign. I’m not going to make any predictions, I just want to make sure our team is ready to go. We will be resting up this weekend and I think it’s a good time to refresh the batteries and get our focus back. It’s been a long season and we have been playing a lot of meaningful hockey games whilst we were trying to win the league and I think that’s shown over the last couple weeks.

We will be getting back down to work early next week preparing for Streatham, a team that no one wants to face this time of year. They have beaten all of the top teams and since January have been playing some exceptional hockey. They have a very hockey minded coach who knows the game and will have his team fired up and ready to go when the puck drops. We have changed some things since the last time we played them and I really hope the guys are as excited as I am to get these playoffs going.

When we meet next week will be upping the training sessions once again. I love the play-offs and I hope my enthusiasm rubs off on the guys and we play our best hockey of the year.

See you next Saturday when we face the Streatham Redskins.

JC

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