LONDON, UK – Chelmsford Chieftains and Invicta Dynamos are both aiming for the NIHL South league title this year, and two men will be key to their chances of success.
Pro Hockey News caught up with Dynamos goalie Chris Douglas and Chieftains stopper Ben Clements for a light-hearted chat to see how their summer has been, what their aspirations are for the 2013/14 season and which players they would love to shoot pucks at.
Chris Douglas is one of the most well-known goalies in the UK having enjoyed a long hockey career in the BNL, EPL and NIHL with clubs as far ranging as Cardiff, Guildford, Peterborough, Romford and Swindon.
Now 34, Douglas is one of the most experienced goalies in the league and a massive signing for the Kent based Dynamos this year.
Ben Clements has picked up more silverware in the last few years with Chelmsford than most goalies pick up in their whole careers. A highly rated local lad, the 26 year old grew up playing junior hockey at the Riverside and is back for his sixth consecutive season in a Chieftains jersey.
1) As it is the start of the season will you be sporting any new kit?
Douglas: I have new Simmons sticks coming so hopefully I will be able to lift the puck off the ice, and a new Mask has just arrived and is being sent to Rick Young to be painted. The mask is Custom made and erm different to say the least.
Clements: This season my kit has pretty much stayed the same apart from the new paint job on my mask with a new Chieftain theme.
2) Have you been on the ice much over the summer and who with?
Douglas: Not been on the ice at all during the summer. I’ve just been working out in the gym and trying to keep fit.
Clements: This has probably been the first summer I haven’t been on the ice as much, other than coaching the kids at Chelmsford. Which made the first few practices hard work that’s for sure.
3) Your team has made a number of changes to the roster, are you feeling confident for the season ahead?
Douglas: Yes I am very confident, we have a young team this year and Invicta are a lot fitter than in the past. We have a new core of defensemen who look very stable and much quicker and I believe the best offensive line up in the league. Plus I think with me and Davey Jackson between the pipes only Chelmsford have a tendy duo as strong in this league
Clements: Feeling really confident going into the season. I think overall we have kept the core of the team from last season, but where we have added the new guys it has made us even stronger especially in defence this season. With John Connolly and Julian Smith coming on board it makes mine and Ryan’s (Bainborough) job a lot easier having those guys in front of you. Not forgetting adding Matt Turner and Luke Brittle up front to an already strong forward line up, we should be in the mix for silverware this season.
4) Goalies have a reputation of being a bit odd. What is your hockey related oddity?
Douglas: I guess for me it’s I like to be completely unfocused on the game, whether it’s talking to fans in between periods, chirping fans who chirp me in between breaks in play, or even having a little dance in-between breaks in play. It helps keep me relaxed so I don’t worry or over think things. Plus I go into big games really pessimistic, that way it takes all the pressure off my shoulders.
Clements: I would like to think I’m not that odd other than the fact I like to stand in the way of 70-80mph pucks, but of course I have little superstitions on game day from listening to certain music before a game to hitting my posts the same way before opening face-off. But I’ve got nothing on Ryan as I think he has something like 15 superstitions for a game!
5) If you could put one of your team mates in goal for a session with you playing out, who would it be and why?
Douglas: Definitely Juraj Huska then I’d get Marcel Petran from the Peterborough Phantoms down to take shots at him so he knows what it’s like to have a puck whizz past your head at silly speeds.
Clements: I do like this idea, as afterwards the player realises how hard it actually is to play in goal. I reckon it would have to be Clarkey (Coach Gary Clarke) just to get my own back on him or Michael Ranby just because it would be funny.
6) Where do you stand on the recent debate on players being able to take the body on you outside the crease?
Douglas: Well I was one of the main people on The Hockey Forum posting for it to be allowed. As I said then there is a difference between running the goalie and playing the body on a goalie who either has the puck or has just played it. If I am going to come out my crease I am always aware I may get hit. I got hit fair and square behind the net last season at Romford, got taken off my feet. The player got a penalty but at the end of the period I gave him a tap and said ‘Great Hit’ because it was.
Clements: I get how people see it as fair game if we are out playing the puck, but as goalies we aren’t as stable in all our kit as players. Also it doesn’t take much of a knock for our helmets to come off either so there’s big safely issues there too. Overall of course I’m against the idea.
7) Which player has been the most difficult shooter to stop in your career?
Douglas: There have been a few but Zoran Kozic on the Wraparound . And Nathan Rempel seemed to be able to shoot so quickly and off either foot I had no idea when the shot was coming.
Clements: Quite a few of the guys in the team now are pretty hard to stop, the likes of Clarkey, Matt Turner and Daniel Volrab, but probably the hardest player I remember was Andrew Power back when I was a junior training up with the Chieftains. He used to make me look stupid all the time to the point where I knew he was going low blocker yet still couldn’t stop him and then just when you think ya got it covered he would go top glove!
For a full preview of the NIHL South Season why not read our in depth preview HERE
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