A Brief Club History
The Isle of Wight Junior Ice Hockey Club was established in 1991 after the Canadian ice hockey player Dan Sweeney started a senior league ice hockey team at the newly-built Ryde Arena – the Wightlink Raiders. A number of parents and former players got together to form the nucleus of the Club with half a dozen children of mixed ages. A year later an under 10’s team was entered into the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) Southern League. Although unable to win a game in their first season, the children enjoyed the game so much, win or lose, they came back for more.
Some of the early coaches included Bernie Cusden, Paul (Howie) Miller and Stuart Scovell.
From these early beginnings the club grew rapidly and soon there were over 80 players – male and female – participating in the league in four teams: Under-10 Rebels, Under-12 Tornados, Under-14 Lightning and Under-16 Thunder. As the players grew older, an Under-19’s Wildcats team was formed and they topped the Southern B League in 2001. This was a feat repeated by our Under-16’s squad in the 2010-11 season. when they won the EIHA Southern League Division 2 with a record of 17 wins, 1 draw and 0 losses.
Damon Larter was the first player to work his way up from the Under 10’s team to a regular place in the Wightlink Raiders squad. Other notable junior club players include Sophie Herbert who has played for England and has won a sports scholarship to a US college. Others have been selected for regional try-outs and several home-grown players are now playing in the EIHA senior leagues.
In the 2008-9 season, the Club recruited its first Head of Coaching – Jeremy Cornish. Cornish, a Canadian player, had originally come to the UK to play for the Elite League London Racers in 2004. In 2008 he joined the Wightlink Raiders as Player/Coach from the Sheffield Steelers and was looking to improve the flow of players from the junior club to the senior league team. The strengthened relationship between the Island’s top senior team and the junior club led to a re-branding of all the junior club teams as “Junior Raiders”. The additional financial support of Care Learning Centre and John Rowell Estate Management helped provide new-look team jerseys and socks which were launched at a Wightlink Raiders match on the 12th of March 2011.
Updated June 2011