Raiders player coach Jeremy Cornish has started his team building for next season by signing two key players, both announced at the end of season do in Ryde.
21 year old netminder Christian ‘Chico’ Cole joins the Raiders from Solent & Gosport Devils where he’s spent the last four seasons. His save percentage of 92.28% was the third highest in the league last year and he has been heralded as one of the NIHL’s top goalies for the last couple of years.
He will make the short trip across the Solent to replace Matt Colclough who is taking a season out to go travelling.
Cornish says signing a top class goalie was his top priority for the new season.
“Chris is a player we targeted once we found out Matt wouldn’t be back and even though they are big shoes to fill we feel Chris is ready for the challenge. Chris has done well at Gosport the last few years, but back stopping a top team in our league is what he needs to do if he wishes to progress to the EPL. Chris is excited for the opportunity and determined to show what he can do and I’m extremely happy we could get the deal done.”
Also back for his second season with the club is Great Britain junior international defenceman Simon Hobbis. 18 year old Simon was an integral part of the Raiders title challenge this season and his solid performances at the back earned him a call up to the Great Britain Under 18 squad for the recent World Championship tournament in Scotland.
As last year, Simon is signed on a two way with the EPL play off champions Basingstoke Bison.
“When we first signed Simon on the advice of Doug Sheppard I didn’t know where he would exactly fit in, he didn’t disappoint forging a strong relationship with Damon Larter and playing big minutes for us. I think this will be a break out year for Simon and one that is crucial for his development. Simon once again will be given the opportunity to play in all situations and I am hoping this is his last year with us before he makes a full time jump to the EPL.”
Other signings have been confirmed in the last few days and you can expect more announcements next week as the Raiders prepare for the new season which starts in September. The number of teams competing in the NIHL1 has yet to be formalised although it has been confirmed that Oxford City Stars will be moving up from NIHL 2 after winning that league.