Guildford Flames Preview. 21st August 2019.
Guildford Flames will commence their third season in the Elite League knowing that the previous two seasons has seen the Surrey based outfit firmly putting down a marker to the rest of the league that they fully deserve to be icing in the top level of British Hockey.
When Flames decided to enter the top flight of English hockey back in season 2017/18 there were understandably some doubters who thought that this would be a massive gamble for the club who had always looked comfortable in the EPL. Under Head Coach Paul Dixon they had an outstanding debut season by making the play-offs where they were narrowly beaten by the Sheffield Steelers 9-7 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
Last season Guildford excelled everybody’s expectations of them by winning the Patton Conference Title as well as defeating Steelers and Nottingham Panthers before losing in overtime 2-1 to the Belfast Giants in the final at Cardiff. Flames once again made the play-offs after finishing in a very respectable fifth place. In the Quarter-Final’s they beat the Glasgow Clan 7-3 on aggregate before another narrow loss to Belfast Giants 2-1 in the semi-finals.
For the forthcoming season – which will see Guildford open up their Elite League campaign with a home match against Panthers on Saturday 7th September- Paul Dixon has gone with the nucleus of last season’s successful squad.
Earlier on in the off-season no less than five players signed for their second years of a two-year deal. Forwards Kruise Reddick, John Dunbar, Brett Ferguson, Jesse Craige and Calle Ackered all put pen to paper.
Reddick picked up 81 points last season, with Dunbar third in the clubs scoring with 17 goals and 71 points whilst Swedish born Ackered had an outstanding season with 27 goals alongside 33 assists. The five players were shortly joined by Ian Watters who agreed a new deal to remain with the Surrey side for the next two seasons. The 27-year-old topped the clubs goal scoring list with 40 and 73 points in total.
31-year-old Erik Lindhagen also will be returning for a second year along with a promising talent in the shape of 19-year-old Great Britain Under 20 forward Joshua Waller. Experienced defenceman Jez Lundin will be back on the ice come September for his 11th term under Spectrum lights.
Netminders Travis Fullerton and Mike Will signed recently for their second and fourth year respectively for Guidford. Forward Jamie Crooks will once again be back wearing a Flames shirt, with Canadian TJ Foster another excellent signing last year, agreeing a return for the new season.
Defenceman Jordan Abt has also put his signature on paper for a second year at Guildford with Great Britain’s overtime hero Ben Davies returning for a third season with Flames. The 28-year-old iced in all 74 games last season whilst bagging 17 goals and 42 points during the campaign. Corbin Baldwin made his European debut at Spectrum last season and will be back agin this season.
Coach Dixon has also recruited three new faces to the Flames line up. Canadian forward Cam Braes joins for the forthcoming campaign. The 28-year-old played last season with EBEL outfit Orli Znojmo and ended the campaign at Aalborg Pirates in Denmark.
Guildford have also added 29-year-old Canadian defenceman Jordan Rowley to their roster. Rowley, iced last season with Finnish side Pelicans along with 24 games at HC Bolzano in Italy.
22-year-old British forward Owen Griffiths has decided to join Guildford ahead of the forthcoming season. The 5 ft 10 inch skater iced 62 games during his first full EIHL term with Milton Keynes Lightning last season.
Flames have also snapped up Great Britain Defenceman Steve Lee after agreeing a two-year deal with the club. Lee, 28, is no stranger to Guildford after previously playing for the Surrey based team back in 2008-9 before joining Nottingham Panthers where he has been for a decade.
As at 21st August, it’s looking like Dixon will go with this talented group of players, who once again will give everything to the cause and will always give over 100% for every game.