Blazers still burning bright in ‘rec hockey’ after nearly three decades

​Sheffield is well established in the world of ice hockey with the Steelers and Steeldogs drawing big crowds and the Sheffield Academy producing a steady flow of top class talent such as Liam Kirk, Cole Shudra and the late Alex Graham. But there is also a huge wealth of recreation (‘rec hockey’) teams such as Sheffield Blazers, Sheffield’s oldest.
Club Captain, Ryan Collinson (left) and netminder and General Manager, Ashley Wheelhouse (Right).Club Captain, Ryan Collinson (left) and netminder and General Manager, Ashley Wheelhouse (Right).
Club Captain, Ryan Collinson (left) and netminder and General Manager, Ashley Wheelhouse (Right).

​Formed in 1995, the club has been a fundamental part of the ‘rec hockey’ scene for nearly three decades.

In fact, club legend, Shaun Osborne is still pulling on his skates for the club 28 years on.

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Like many of the local sports teams, Covid had a huge negative impact with many players choosing not to return to the sport, which left the team, at one point, with barely enough players to keep the club financially viable.

Move to the present day and the club is having somewhat of a resurgence.

Now based at IceSheffield, with a roster of 36 registered players, the club can now boast an A team that will compete in this year’s Lamp Lighters league and multiple tournaments, as well as a B/Development team creating a pathway of progression for those moving through the popular Learn To Play programme, those new to ice hockey or those experienced senior players looking to carry on playing on a social level.

On top of that, from this season, the club will be coached by experienced coach and original Blazers member, Bob Marshall, who took over training sessions to bring his extensive knowledge to help the Blazers develop.

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Blazers netminder Ashley Wheelhouse will enter his third season as team manager.

Last season Ashley iced for five tournaments and 14 games, which had many positives to take away – not a bad haul for somebody who was supposed to be third choice netminder.

And Ashley has high expectations for the coming season.

He said: “I’m really happy with the work the Blazers have done on and off the ice this year.

“The goal last season was to stabilise the club financially, rebuild the roster, and give the younger or less experienced players plenty of game time, which we certainly achieved.

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“This season we have entered the Lamp Lighter ice hockey league, which I feel is very competitive for the Blazers and should provide good close games throughout the year.”

And what’s the feeling within the Blazers group?

“Everyone has chipped in and done their part this off-season, and with Bob coming back as a coach, it’s definitely made the training more intense.”

Club captain and last season’s top assist points scorer, Ryan Collinson is back for his third season in the number 23 jersey, and his second season with the C on his chest.

He said: “My time here has been a growing process, I feel like last season especially was a period where we formed as a team, with a lot of new players.

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“They have all progressed tremendously and I feel like we are all as one and battling for the same thing, BLAZERS!”

Like the GM, Collinson has high hopes for the coming season. “The focus on this year is to battle and fight to stay in the top group of Lamp Lighters conference league.

“I believe we have every right this year to take home some silverware In this league and tournaments.”

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