ISLE OF WIGHT, UK – Wightlink Raiders Player Coach Jeremy Cornish is ready for another year on the island, and the former CHL and Elite league enforcer is as enthusiastic as ever for the upcoming season.
There cannot be many primary school teachers in the UK who have a highlight reel of their ice hockey career spread across the internet, but for 33 year old Canadian Jeremy Cornish that is the truth.
Notorious for his toughness on the ice during the early years of his hockey career, Cornish is now ready for his fifth season as a respectable player coach of National Ice Hockey League side Wightlink Raiders.
With the majority of his team signed up already, Cornish has been a busy man bringing in no less than four new faces to the line up including a new import to replace the outgoing Jiri Hanzal.
“I’m very happy and excited to get the season underway” admitted the 6’ 2” Lucan, Ontario born forward.
“I wanted to address our goal scoring and fitness and I think we’ve done that. We should be a much more complete team this season. I want to be able to compete on the road just as well as we play at home”
“We have signed a new import and his name is Matthew Vizzari. He’s Canadian and will be new to the UK. I usually sign my British trained players really quick after the season ends and then wait a couple months before I start to enquire about imports”
“Matthew is young and looking to come to England and continue to develop his hockey. He played in the same German league as Joe Rand and put up some impressive numbers. I’ll be looking for him to come in and share the scoring with the rest of my forwards”
Joining former Weser Stars Bremen forward Vizzari as the new batch heading towards Ryde is former Bracknell hotshot Alex Barker, Cardiff scorer Steve Osman and ex-Bristol blue liner Yousif Abu Saada.
Notable departures from the team include the long serving Steve Gosset and Alex Murray, players who have been around for the majority of Cornish’s tenure at the club.
“It’s the worst part of the job, but one that needs to be done if you want the club to keep pushing forward” said Cornish.
“Both of those guys were very committed to the team and I want nothing but the best for both Steve and Alex”
Whilst coaching may take up the majority of the thought process for any player juggling both responsibilities, there are of course the demands of producing the goods on the ice as well as off it.
At 33 and with an impressive career on his CV, surely there is a risk that the enjoyment of lacing up the skates wanes with time, however Cornish maintains that is not the case for him.
“I really do still enjoy playing and being around the team” explained Cornish, who made his senior hockey debut back in 2000 with the Port Huron Border Cats.
“We always tend to have a good group of guys and competitive teams, so I’m sure both of those things contribute to me still wanting to play. I now take it year by year and this year will be the same, if I feel I can still help the team, I’ll continue to play”
The playing side of the game will be tough once again in the NIHL with the top three of last year all back for more and Invicta Dynamos looking to break back into the title race with some eye catching signings such as Chelmsford’s Danny Hammond and Romford’s Juraj Huska amongst others.
“I think no matter who is in the league, the standard continues to get better each year” said Cornish on his title rivals.
“It looks as though Invicta has spent big to get these key guys in and I think that it’s great that they want to be competitive and challenge the big teams”
Looking slightly bigger than the NIHL, brings the question proposed on a number of hockey forums in recent weeks of an Elite League team possibly playing out of Wembley Arena.
The Capital hasn’t seen a top flight hockey team since the demise of London Racers in 2005 and London Knights before that.
“I did read that rumour and I would love to see another team back in London” said Cornish, who was the Racers enforcer for two seasons.
“The only problem is, would it work? I’m not convinced it could work with the costs involved with running a team in such an expensive city”
Back in the wilds of Hampshire, where he resides with his family, Cornish has plenty to look forward to not only with the hockey but also his new job in that aforementioned school.
“I played a long time with no real back up plan for when hockey came to an end, so I’m very relieved that I do now” admitted Cornish.
“I did my degree at Winchester University thanks to the Basingstoke Bison and my teaching qualification at Southampton University, so will be starting my first year this year working at a primary school in Southampton. It is pretty exciting”
Will the Raiders players address him as ‘Mr Cornish’ and will the kids end up taking the ferry across the Solent to see their new teacher in action in the ice rink affectionately know as ‘The Cube’? The 2013/14 season will reveal all.
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For an interesting piece on the last big budget attempt at top level hockey in the UK capital check out the article below: