Category: Player News

Signing Alert – Ben Lock

The Solent Devils are delighted to announce the return of defenceman Ben Lock to the team.

Lock has been a part of the Devils defence for the last five years, having played 130 games as a Devil, with 17 goals and 26 assists.

“There is no hiding my love for this club, the fans, the management, the team, and being part of the coaching set up for the Junior Devils,” Lock says, “This club is like my second family.  It’s always a privilege to put on the Solent Devils jersey, and to be doing it again in my sixth straight year, I am excited to be back.”

Alex Murray, Solent Devils head coach says

“Lock is a key member of the Solent Devils, he forms part of the core group who I build the team around, his experience for someone still so young is invaluable.  Ben is an important part of our special teams, as well as being our best shot blocker, with him being used at crucial moments in games, at both ends of the ice.”

Lock contributed 17 points last season (5 goals and 12 assists).

“I never look at my points,” said Lock, “but it is always nice to chip in now and again!  It’s really about the team and myself as a defensive defenceman, making sure I do my job right, so our forwards can do theirs.”

“I’m always looking to improve on my strength,” Lock continues, as the thoughts start turning towards the new season, “This league will be similar to what the Devils are used to, fast, hard and playing against some very skilled forwards, so I need to concentrate on adapting my game back to that level.”

Murray, confident in the stalwart defenceman goes on to say

“The step up in leagues will be refreshing for most, and Ben in particular knows what he needs to do to be competitive in NIHL 1.  I’m confident that Ben will be ready for the task ahead and will be a leader in our team, helping the younger guys develop.”

“I think we will be a dark horse in this league,” Lock says, “We know the other teams and we can easily compete with them.  With the team Alex Murray is already building, I think the fans are in for another special year!”

Lock is also heavily involved with the youth programme at Solent, something Murray is obviously proud of.

“Ben has worked with the juniors for several years now, as part of our partnership with them.  The kids have a special bond with him, which is great to see.  Ben will continue his work with the juniors next year, as we look to develop Devils of the future.”

A fan favourite at Solent, Lock also has huge love for the supporters,

“For six straight years, the fans have been the extra person on the ice, as a team we can never thank them enough!  The noise they bring to home and away games always spurs us on when we need it and I can’t wait to play in front of them again.”

Lock will be returning in shirt #71 next season.  If you are interested in sponsoring a Devils shirt, or becoming a club sponsor, please contact devilssupporters@outlook.com.

Signing Alert – Alex Cole

Today, the Solent Devils are delighted to announce the return of team captain, Alex Cole, for his eleventh season in Gosport.

Cole currently holds the record for most appearances for the Solent Devils, and is rapidly approaching 300 games.

When asked what brought this long-standing member of the team back, Cole quips,

“I think the question should be, how have the devils put up with me for ten seasons? All jokes aside, like many players I wasn’t gifted any talent and it took me a long time to decide I want to be the best I can and consistently improve, this takes a long time and its thanks to Alex Murray and the other coaches who did see some potential all those years ago and gave me the shot to work towards what I do now.  I love the team spirit and the dressing room, every year it seems to just get better somehow!”

Solent Devils head coach, Alex Murray, goes on to say,

“Alex is one of the pillars that keeps the Devils stable! He is a loyal, dedicated and highly valued member of my core group of players.  His commitment to the club is unquestionable and so for me it’s a no brainer to have him back in the line-up, wearing the C again.”

Last season, Cole earned 33 points (6 goals and 27 assists), earning him another Devils record – most points in a season for a defenseman.

“My performance last year speaks for itself and I am very happy I got the new record,” says Cole.  “I set myself a target last season, and that was to be more offensive and to make an impact in games and on the scoresheet, instead of just being very defensive and thinking that stopping goals going in and being captain – which comes with many duties – were my only roles.”

“The great thing about Alex is that he is never content on where he is with his development,” states Murray, “He is very humble about his own performances and never believes he has reached his peak, he worked tremendously hard during last season to develop the offensive side of his game and it clearly showed.  Next season the challenge will be to be as influential at a higher level of hockey, against better players, goalies and teams.”

Cole carries on this sentiment, talking about his development and how over the last season he has gone out of his way to get better.

“I always look to improve,” says Cole, “I’ll be working hard this season to get the strength back but I’d like to maintain what I’m doing, if I can get anywhere near what I achieved this season then I will be very happy.”  Letting the fans in on a secret, Cole talks about one of the keys to his success by continuing, “I will be working with my strength and diet coach over the summer and through next season, to push me further and harder into another great year, I cannot thank him enough for where he has brought me physically, and in terms of performance last season proved it.”

Once more, echoing the dedication Cole has given to the team and his own development, Murray says

“I see potential in everyone who wants to work hard.  If you have the right attitude and are open to suggestion, I can help develop you as a player.  Six years ago I saw a player low on confidence but determined to get better, that was all I needed, every year we have focused on little things, and now six years on Alex is an incredibly strong and reliable defender and someone who I know other teams would take in a heartbeat!”

Looking to the new season, Cole is upbeat about the year ahead

“The new league will be a challenge and one we – and I – are definitely ready for.  We need to be pushed but I feel we want to be in the top four.  It’s a lot of time to invest to just aim to survive.  We’re a very good setup and everyone plays because they want to be there, not because they want a pay packet each week.  I’m very excited and I hope the fans are too!”

Cole will be sponsored by Time4Nutrition again next year, returning in shirt #8.  If you would like to discuss sponsorship options with the Devils, contact devilssupporters@outlook.com

Signing Alert – Dan Lackey

The Solent Devils are today pleased to announce the return of Dan Lackey for his second season with the club.

“Lackey was a wonderful addition to our line up last season,” said Solent Devils head coach, Alex Murray, “His hard work and determination were key attributes to him and the team having such a successful season.  Dan was one of the first players on my list to re-sign this season due to his experience and versatility, I am delighted he agreed to return.”

“The dressing room and the chemistry in the team is great, which makes it fun to play every week,” says Lackey.  “The set up at Solent is as professional as I have ever seen, with off ice volunteers doing an outstanding job so we can focus on hockey only, not to mention some pretty noisy fans!”

Lackey contributed 40 points to the Devils last season (9 goals and 31 assists), but humbly says

“I’m not one to focus on personal points, the two points for the team are all that matter.  This was my best points return to date, so can’t complain and I am just as happy blocking or making a hit as I am scoring a goal.  I did play in defence for more than half the season, but I do need to improve at burying my chances, I should have had more than 9 goals, I certainly missed a few!”

Murray, however, took slightly more of a positive view on Lackey’s performance the previous year.

“Dan was one of our best performers especially in the big games, he scored crucial goals, made plays and defended well every game.  His versatility helped us during a difficult period in the year which saw as many as three defencemen out at a time.”

Looking toward the new season, when asked about how he will utilise this versatile player, Murray gives little away,

“Dan’s ability to play both forward and defence means I don’t have a set plan for him yet.  I have an idea for Dan, but it all depends on who else we can recruit.  Regardless, I know wherever I play him, Dan will give 100% and never let us down!”

Lackey finishes simply, by saying

“All that was missing last year was the silverware, as a team I don’t think we can complain how the season went.  The new structure is certainly going to be interesting for sure, but our aim won’t change and that’s just to win each game as it comes.”

Lackey will be returning in shirt #9 next season.  If you are interested in sponsoring a Devils shirt, or becoming a club sponsor, please contact devilssupporters@outlook.com.

Signing Alert – James Hounsome

Solent Devils are delighted to announce that James Hounsome has signed for the 2019/20 season.

Hounsome joined the Devils halfway through last year, from Milton Keynes Lightning.

When discussing Hounsome’s return, Devils head coach, Alex Murray said

“I’ve known James since he was in our junior system, I’m sure he would agree this is his hockey home.  Settling in wasn’t a big challenge for James, he has come back to skate at Solent over the summer in the last few years, so already knows a lot of the other players.”

“It’s a family environment in the locker room,” said Hounsome when asked what kept him with the Devils, “the big brother effect of the older players towards the younger guys and the way we, as a team, have great chemistry, it makes it easier to play with anybody in any line, at any time.”

At twenty, Hounsome isn’t what you would typically call an older player, but he has the calm, assured demeanour of one, which, coupled with his experience makes him a valued asset to the team.

“James is a confident guy and he brings a lot of energy to our room,” says Murray.  “Although he is young, he is always talking to the junior players, which is great.”

Hounsome played seventeen games last season, earning 17 points – 8 goals and 9 assists – while spending just 8 minutes in the penalty box.

“I was very happy with my performance last year,” Hounsome reflected.  “Stepping in to a new team, half way through the year, playing almost 18 less games and still finishing top ten in points was something I was very happy with, and being able to help the team make the playoffs was great.”

Murray comments on Hounsome’s late entry to the Devils season,

“James came in during a difficult period in his career, he was recovering from two separate injuries and had fallen out of love with hockey.  My first priority was to get him back fit and enjoying his hockey again.  Thanks to the wonderful off ice team we have at Solent, he soon recovered from his injuries and was producing on the ice, scoring crucial goals along the way.”

As they start to look ahead to the new season, coach and player alike are looking to how Hounsome can continue to help the Devils.

“Consistency is key, last year I went five games without a goal, but still had eight assists,” said Hounsome, “I feel if I had scored in some of those other games, I could have made more of an impact.”

“This is a big season ahead for James, he has everything you need to be an excellent hockey player, size, speed, strength and an unbelievable shot.  The step up in leagues will be a good test for James, as he will be relied upon more this season – I will expect a bigger points return that last season, this is not unrealistic as I know the potential James has!”

Musing over the league restructure, Hounsome seems unfazed by the Devils playing in NIHL 1.

“I think we can’t sell ourselves short because a number has changed on the league name.  It’s not like we are stepping into a shark tank with this new league, we have to prove our worth by beating some of those teams that are moving up with us.  I think how we do depends on how confident we are individually, we have to believe we are the best to achieve what we want this season.”

Hounsome will be returning in shirt #14 next season.  If you are interested in sponsoring a Devils shirt, or becoming a club sponsor, please contact devilssupporters@outlook.com.

Signing Alert – Alex Murray

Alex Murray continues into new era with Devils

Today, the Solent Devils are delighted to announce the return of Alex Murray to the team.

Murray, who returned to the Devils in 2013, now heads in to his tenth season with the club and after the improvements made to the team in NIHL 1, Murray saw them to greatness in NIHL 2 following the league restructure in 2017, and now, heading in to the once more restructured league, Murray will be at the helm as head coach, as the Devils return to NIHL 1.

“I’m delighted to return as head coach of the Solent Devils, for what will be my seventh season in charge of the team,” said Murray. “The club is part of my DNA, growing up playing for this wonderful club, it’s been an objective of mine to change the club’s vision, ethos, professionalism and its reputation around the hockey community.  It has taken blood, sweat and tears, but I am really looking to continue to make improvements next season.”

Devils manager, Steve Ferguson said

“It is great to see Alex returning for next season, it’s good to work with him as he knows what it takes to bring out the best in the players and the staff, so the game experience for the supporters is second to none.”

Looking back over the last few years – especially their time in NIHL 2 – is somewhat bittersweet for Murray, the consummate perfectionist is happy with what the club has achieved, especially the growth the Devils have achieved, but there are always minor points where Murray feels he should have done better.

“The last few years have been wonderful for the club,” Murray begins, “the results on the ice have been phenomenal, which has allowed me and others to grow the club off the ice.  I’ve often looked back in frustration, to miss out on a league by one point one season and a head to head result another, as well as our narrow playoff loss last month!  However, if I look back overall, we have become a stable club with a solid fan base, we have developed players who have now moved to NIHL or national league, and we have a club to be proud of.”

Murray earned 87 points in the regular season (30G + 57A), and 2 goals and a further 3 assists during the playoffs, making him the second highest points producer in the team in the last year.

“My personal performance isn’t something I focus on too much, unless of course it’s having a negative impact on results,” said Murray.  “I look more closely at how I’m impacting the important games, and how well I’m doing with my plus/minus and special teams, all of which, upon reflection could have been better.  I set myself and my players, tough but realistic objectives every season, and as a result I feel maybe I could have done slightly better when the team really needed it.”

Looking forward to next year, where the league restructure will put a new national league in place, the Solent Devils will return to NIHL 1 where they will play against experienced NIHL 1 teams such as Milton Keynes Thunder and Invicta Dynamos, plus Oxford City Stars and Chelmsford Chieftains are among the group reforming this league.

“The league structure change next season is overdue,” said Ferguson, “given the obvious divide between the top seven teams and the lower seven.  With the Solent Devils returning to NIHL 1, then not only are there more games but the games will be close and tough, teams will be going for the win in regulation time, so fitness is going to be key to a successful season.”

“Next season is going to be tough, we will very likely be the only pay to play team in the league, with all of the other teams able to financially support players,” said Murray,

“it makes us handicapped before a puck is dropped.  That said, we are a determined, spirited bunch and I have players that play for the logo on the front of a jersey rather than the back, that team first attitude will win us games and that’s all I can ask of my team.  Previous to our time in NIHL 2, we were making big inroads in the NIHL 1 and beating teams regularly, and I will look for the same again this year!  We are in an awkward position because there are clubs who will stay in NIHL 2 who are financially more secure and can support players more than us, however our performance, results and ability even as a pay to play club often misleads people into thinking we operate on a budget.  Realistically, we want to challenge ourselves and test ourselves against the teams in NIHL 1, and I for one am excited to get back to where we left of two seasons ago.”

Murray will be returning in shirt #73 next season.  If you are interested in sponsoring a Devils shirt, or becoming a club sponsor, please contact devilssupporters@outlook.com.

Junior Devils Tested Against the Lions

Tonight, the Solent Devils are delighted to announce that FOUR Solent Junior Devils have been signed on a two way deal with the club.

Harry Cloutman, Tom Bazell, Kieran Tavener and Jamie Southwell will join current Solent Juniors Elliot Lewis and Callum Farrell. Several of them have been invited to line-up for this weekend’s game against the Lee Valley Lions.

Head coach Alex Murray has spoken of the importance of this partnership;

“As a club we have gradually been growing closer to the junior club during my time as Head Coach, I believe now that the junior club is in a very strong position, and with Richard at the helm, I believe things will only get better.

Part of the link we have with the juniors is to provide the opportunity for young players to experience what it’s like playing senior hockey.

For several years due to the level we played at, it meant the gap was just too wide for the junior players to cross over to.

Now with the current league structure and the rapid development of the under 18s, I’m delighted that we are able to provide an opportunity for these young players to see what senior hockey is all about.”

Solent Junior Devils Head Coach Richard Facey added;

“As a junior club we are so pleased for and proud of these players. They have demonstrated that they deserve this opportunity with their attitudes and efforts this season and for the past few years.

This opportunity has been aided by the senior development sessions which the junior club has just started for the more senior players. It has given these players exposure for our coaches to look at them in a different environment and has given them an opportunity to experience the change in tempo to prepare.

As a junior club we are very proud of these players and know that they are the start of a trend that we hope to continue.”

The Solent Devils face off against the Lee Valley Lions at 5pm on Saturday 13th October, with doors opening at 4:15.