Coaches and players urged to get their skates on for new Leeds ice hockey team

Work is continuing on the Leeds ice rink site on Elland Road with a summer opening expected. Picture courtesy of Planet Ice.
Work is continuing on the Leeds ice rink site on Elland Road with a summer opening expected. Picture courtesy of Planet Ice.
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OWNERS of Leeds’ new ice rink are confident of attracting plenty of applications from players and coaches to be involved with the city’s new ice hockey team.

The team – the full name of which is yet to be decided – will compete in the newly-formed National League during the 2019-20 season, along with established clubs such as Hull Pirates and Sheffield Steeldogs.

COMING SOON: A picture of the inside of Leeds ice rink, seen from one end of the venue. Picture courtesy of Planet Ice.

COMING SOON: A picture of the inside of Leeds ice rink, seen from one end of the venue. Picture courtesy of Planet Ice.

Yesterday, rink owners Planet Ice called on any players or coaches interested in being involved with the new team to get in touch.

Three netminders, seven defenceman and 12 forwards are being sought to fill a roster which will be overseen either by a player-coach or somebody who can combine coaching with general manager (GM) duties, including marketing and promotion.

The team will be run by the rink owners, no strangers to such matters having previously run teams elsewhere, including Manchester and Milton Keynes.

Mark Johnson, managing director of Planet Ice, said he expected there to be a lot of interest from both players and coaches.

We’ve already had some interest from players, but now we’re officially welcoming applications as the current season is coming to its conclusion. I don’t think we’ll have any problem filling the roster

Mark Johnson, Planet Ice.

“We’ve already had some interest from players, but now we’re officially welcoming applications as the current season is coming to its conclusion,” said Johnson.

The addition of a new team from Leeds and the return to the second tier of Milton Keynes after two seasons in the Elite League, has left some people in the game questioning whether there will be enough players of the quality required to go around 10 teams. But Johnson doesn’t see that being an issue.

“I don’t think we’ll have any problem filling the roster,” he added. “You’ve got to get some seasoned guys in there – and there are some already potentially on the list – and then you’ve got to bring some of the younger lads through.

“Also, there are players on the fringes of the Elite League who are not really getting a lot of ice time that might be looking for a two-way contract.

Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates, seen competing above last month, will be two of the nine teams facing Leeds in the new National league next season.  Picture: Cerys Molloy

Sheffield Steeldogs and Hull Pirates, seen competing above last month, will be two of the nine teams facing Leeds in the new National league next season. Picture: Cerys Molloy

“People might say ‘where are all these players coming from?’ - but, on the other hand, how many of these players are not being given a chance?”

In terms of the off-ice running of the team, Johnson said the role of GM would be depdendent on what kind of coach they ultimately appoint.

“We will be running the team,” he explained. “Who will be the GM or be classed as such, we haven’t quite nailed that down yet.

“If we get someone who comes forward and says ‘Look, I don’t want to play anymore, but I want to be a GM/coach, then we’d look at someone who could possibly market the product and coach.

An artist's impression of how the new Leeds ice rink is expected to look once open. Picture courtsey of Planet Ice.

An artist's impression of how the new Leeds ice rink is expected to look once open. Picture courtsey of Planet Ice.

“Or we might get somebody who is at a decent playing level, but they want to be a player-coach, that is another alternative.”

Anyone wishing to apply to coach or play for the new Leeds ice hockey team should email icehockeyleeds@planet-ice.co.uk