When asked what brought Craft to the Devils, he simply replied
“Devils are my local team, since the Island rink closed, and I’ve known a lot of the players over the years. The Devils are a well-run, well organised team who have clear set goals and can competitively compete in the league.”
“Aaron is a very talented goalie who I have known since he was a junior during my time on the Isle of Wight,” states Alex Murray, Solent Devils head coach. “Aaron often trained up from the juniors, so I know how much potential he has got.”
Craft last iced with the Basingstoke Buffalo, where in the 2017/18 season he played 24 games with a save percentage of 87.71% and posted a goal against average of 4.74. Some players struggle in moving from a big ice pad – such as Basingstoke’s – but Craft should be quite at home on the small ice at Solent,
“Although playing on a big rink is easier for a goalie,” Craft says, “you have a lot more space and time to see shots, I’ve grown up on a small ice pad on the Isle of Wight though, so the smaller rink at Solent will feel more natural to me.”
Craft didn’t play in the 2018/19 season, and acknowledges it by saying “After a year off, it will be hard to get back into the swing of things, but I think when the season starts and I’m back in the routine, things will quickly start to come back and I will return to my normal self. I’ve been on the ice a few times this summer already and am happy with where I am – considering the year off.”
Murray is prepared to give Craft some time but makes it clear that he expects the 22 year old to put in the necessary effort.
“Aaron understands that that this will be a big jump up from what he has played before, but he is hard working and will continue to work on his game until he is ready. He will need a few weeks, maybe more, to get up to speed, but training is intense which will get him ready. It was a priority to ensure I had a goaltender who has experience at playing as a number one. During his time with the Buffalo, he often kept games competitive and I will need Aaron to play games this season due to the amount of fixtures we have.”
“I’ve got a few personal goals for the season ahead,” Craft says, “which mainly relate to having a year off. My main one is to improve and maintain my fitness – which I will work on before the season starts. I really just want to be able to feel comfortable and happy with myself on the ice again. From a team point of view, this season I think it’s important that I can make my team feel comfortable and that they can rely on me when needed.”
Murray follows this up, reiterating once more that Craft will have to work hard this year, but also that as a coach he has belief in Craft.
“Aaron has to push hard in training to earn a chance to play, once he has a chance, then it is up to him to prove to me – and the team – he merits staying in the line-up. I have every faith that Aaron will take the opportunity, which is why I am delighted to welcome him to the club.”
Craft is looking for a shirt sponsor for the upcoming season. If you are interested in sponsoring a Devils shirt, or becoming a club sponsor, please contact email@example.com.
Solent Devils head coach, Alex Murray is clearly delighted the veteran goaltender has agreed to return.
“Chico is part of the club’s DNA, he has been a tremendous servant to this club and is the best goaltender in the league! For me, Chico is one of the first names on the list to get to commit, his loyalty to our club is a testament to the man he is, and we are lucky to have him.”
In the 2019/20 season, Cole posted 19 wins and just 3 losses in a season which saw him make 801 saves, had a goals against average of 2.92 and a save percentage of 92.82 – earning him NIHL 1 South player of the month in November 2019, NIHL 1 South netminder of the year, and saw him named in the NIHL 1 South first all-star team. Somewhat modestly, Cole simply says
“I am very happy with how last season went, regardless of stats I feel I played my best season yet, and in a very good league.”
In addition to the amazing year and accolades from the 2019/20 season, Cole has had a career where he has played 278 games and has recorded 14 shut outs, won the playoffs in Bracknell at the end of the 2017/18 season and was the netminder for the team as they were runners up the subsequent year. Additionally, Cole has been named as a part of the all-star team four other times, and was part of the Solent Devils for the 2011/12 season, when the Devils became the ENL 2 league champions, earning promotion to league 1. With all this in mind, it is fair to say Cole has played in some high pressure games, but as he gets older Cole seems to take the pressure in his stride.
“I prepare for every game the same, but the more years I play I feel I am relaxing more and more, which is why I feel the best of me is yet to come.”
Murray has nothing but good things to say about the Solent Devils number one,
“Chico is an exceptional performer, his stats speak for themselves. There is never a situation where he lets us down, he is the last line of our defence and almost always comes out winning! The trust our team have in his ability allow us to be confident in our decision making, as well as play the game we want. If his best is still to come, I am very excited! Chico has been the best goaltender at this level for several years, if he can continue his high level of performances next season, then we stand a good chance of repeating our successful campaign.”
With the new season creeping towards everyone with agonising slowness, Cole simply lays out the plan for the future,
“I personally want to help the Devils lift trophies, so if I keep my performances consistent, and the team scores goals we are in with a chance.”
Matt Colclough backs Devils
The Solent Devils are today pleased to announce that Matt Colclough has signed with them for the 2018/19 season.
Colclough will register with the club but at the moment will only train, unless there was a unique circumstance in which the Devils require Colclough on a game day.
Talking about his role with the Devils, Colclough says
“I still love the game and enjoy being on the ice. Other commitments have taken priority, but having the chance to support the Devils – who are close to home – is perfect for me. Also, I will get to skate regularly with some guys that I grew up playing with, which will be nice.”
Devils head coach, Alex Murray voices his pleasure at having Colclough aboard,
“I’m delighted Matty has joined the Solent Devils organisation for the 2018/19 season. Matt is someone who I have played with for the majority of my hockey career, and we are good friends away from hockey.”
When asked about the role Murray has for Colclough, Murray says
“I always like to train with three goalies, it keeps the intensity high and allows goalies a chance to reflect on drills and then implement their reflection into the next drill. When we spoke in the summer, Matty mentioned he was not returning to Streatham, I offered him the opportunity to support us in training and I am delighted he has accepted. His experience and knowledge of the game will not only help raise the standards of our own goalies, but also help our players.”
“The Solent Devils have always been a hard working organisation, which I respect,”
“I can see that people are doing their best to make it the best it can be, and I am happy to be a part of that.”
Colclough will mainly be at training with the Devils, but is determined to make his mark with the team,
“I always practice hard and come to the rink with the right attitude. That is what is needed to make practices enjoyable and the rink a fun place to be, hopefully I can add to what the club already has.”