Double retirement for Tigers

ISLE OF WIGHT, UK – Wightlink Tigers said a fond farewell Sunday 25th March as two long serving Isle of Wight hockey players called time on their long and distinguished careers. Soon to be 44 year old Brit utility player Anthony Blaize and 38 year old Canadian forward and current Player-Coach Jason Coles both laced them up for the final time. Both players have had considerable success over the years. With age and the frailties of a body the wrong side of 30 and 40 respectively, the rigours of the sport have finally paved the way for the end.
Blaizer as he is affectionately known started out as a fresh faced 15 year old with the Streatham Bruins. Under the watchful eye and guidance of Streatham legends, Red Imrie and John Rost, his rugged style of play saw him make the Redskins as a teenager. Tony recalls those early years, claiming his testosterone levels were probably off the radar back then. Referring, of course, to his huge penalty minute totals and regular dust ups. He spent his early years playing in defence. After a good few years at Streatham he later moved on to the now defunct Richmond Flyers for a season. The following year he spent at Stevenage playing for the Sharks, again another team consigned to history. It was whilst playing in Hertfordshire that led him to his long tenure on the Isle of Wight. Former Wightlink Raiders supremo Dan Sweeney liked Tony’s no nonsense play. The following season he would patrol the blue line for 12 seasons picking up numerous League, Playoff and Cups in the mid to late nineties. After a testimonial back in 2005, he did stop playing, however the formation in 2007 of the Wightlink Tigers

Tony Blaize

into the English National League Blaizer couldn’t resist the bug to lace them up again. After five seasons helping bring on the youth on the island, this is the “final” curtain call. He will be looking forward to spending more time with his family. Also with his wife due to give birth to their second child in August he will certainly have his hands full. No doubt he will be seen from time to time at Wightlink Tigers and Raiders games. As a proud team mate in recent seasons, I’d like to say “Good luck Blaizey for the future, it’s been fun playing alongside you. Thanks for the memories”. The career of influential Canadian Jason Coles comes to a close also on Sunday night on the Island. Haling from Hamilton Ontario Canada his career started out in 1990 in the OHL. Icing for sides such as Niagara Falls Thunder, Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires in his early years back in Canada. A season with St.Thomas Wildcats in the COHL was to precede his move to the UK. In 1995 he joined the Bracknell Bees in the British League Division 1. He would return to the Hive for a season in the Super League the following year. Homesickness maybe or just deciding to give back across the ocean another shot after some productive seasons in the UK only Colesy knows, but he spent the next two seasons at Fayettville Force and Pee Dee Pride in the CHL and ECHL. A spell with Birmingham Bulls and a stint in Germany with Linbuger saw him move around a bit in the 1997/98 season. Returning to the UK at Kingston Hawks for the 1998/99 campaign. He first played for the Isle of Wight on a loan spell for just a few games before finishing the year with Solihull Blaze in the BNL. After one game for the Basingstoke Bison in the 2000/01 season, he would then go on to make the Isle of Wight home for the best part of 10 seasons. Finishing top of the Island scoring charts alongside other top imports such as David Kozier, Luc Chabot and Darcy Cahill to name just a few. The 2008/09 season was split with Raiders and then he joined the Wightlink Tigers of the ENL. He became Player Coach this season.

Jason Coles (Photo Mave Siddons)

After becoming involved with the Wightlink Junior Raiders Under 12s team for the last couple of years, he has not been able to play as many games this season with fixture clashes. Colesy’s two sons play in the aforementioned team Levi 6, and Cody 8. No doubt Jason will want them to follow in Daddy’s footsteps. Next season he will continue as Head Coach for the Tigers, but no doubt that burden of not playing will allow his ailments to recover and concentrate on pushing the Tigers towards promotion. He has had a long successful career and has done well with developing young players on the Tigers and Junior Raiders. No doubt that will continue in years to come. “As with Blaizer, it’s been an honour to play alongside an unsung legend of British ice hockey and thank you for what you’ve done for ice hockey on the Island and will continue to do. Just remember the rec teams in the summer leagues will take anyone on…” On a final note in mid to late May the Wightlink Tigers are looking to host a retirement game to honour Colesy. Any players that have played with or against him that would like to participate in this then get in touch with me. Contact the author

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