Swindon Wildcats Ice Hockey Academy is very proud to announce that it’s U11 Junior team the Swindon Jaguars won gold at the junior national championships held at the Bauer Arena Sheffield over the 6thand 7thof May

The U11’s took on a new format this year with the runners-up and league champions of the Northern league, Midlands League, South-East League and South West league participating.

The teams were split into two pools of four with the winners of the pools facing off in the Gold Medal game 1.

As South West champions the Jaguars went into the competition with confidence but also knowing every game would be a tough one.

In game 1-they played Peterborough and in an intense, physical encounter suffered a set-back with going 1-0 down after 20 seconds. The team rallied and showed real character coming out 2-1 winners with goals at 17.18 by Alexander Blakeman and 24.14 by Joseph Hillier.

In game 2 –they faced Nottingham – a fast paced skating team and again did not have an ideal start going 1-0 down after 2.50 – again they showed their true character by fighting back to win 2-1 with goals at 23.01 by Josh Burnett and 36.02 by Oskar Sagan

In game 3– they played undefeated Northern Champions Manchester – the pre-tournament favourites – the Manchester team had earlier run up heavy scores in the group games and this game would be the one which determined who went through to the Gold medal game.

The Jaguars got off to a flying start with a goal after 20 seconds by Luca Kirk-Browne. The game went end to end and every Jaguar Player gave their all staving off repeated attacks by the Manchester team.

With 2 minutes 21 seconds to goal Manchester scored an unstoppable equalizer – and it seemed the momentum may shift their way – however Just 34 seconds later the Jaguars scored the winning goal at 46.11 by Ethan Taylor or Jan Kostal – no-one is sure – but all that matters is that it was the winning goal !

The final – The Jaguars played host club and perennial winners Sheffield Thunder – in a tense thrilling game it remained scoreless in the first two periods. The Jaguars netminder Ben Clarke-Leach was on fire and looked like never conceding – the whole team although becoming tired skated as hard as they could and in the third period got their just reward when Luca Kirk-Browne hit a screamer of a shot into the top corner

 SWIHA – would like to thank Head Coach Ken Forshee, Assistant Coach Dan Burnett, Manager Verity Liddamore and Team Rep Simon Godfrey for preparing and looking after the team so well. We would also like to thank the players for representing us with such pride and determination – and the Red Army of Parents what made sure the players were supported throughout.

Speaking after the win Junior Head Coach Ken Forshee “I am so proud of the team – at such a young age to totally buy in to the team first philosophy and work as hard as they did it inspiring. It is an endorsement of our core values and that as an Academy and a team we are on the right path”

SWIHA has now had 5 teams at the national finals across the U15, U13 and U11 age groups over the last 3 years – winning 3 bronze, 1 silver and 1 gold medal – we hope the Jaguar success inspires the rest of the Academy and future players.

SWIHA is the only Ice Hockey Academy which is providing a “sport for all environment” by running our own in- house league system – the House leagues enter into their 5thyear next year and many players who have played or will play at nationals in the future started their journey in the house system.

As General Manager of the Academy I could not have asked for a better end to the season, not only did the Jaguars win they won playing and behaving the right way and I look

forward to seeing this group of players and all of the other players in the Academy develop over the next few years.

Lee Mason – SWIHA- General Manager