The Nottingham Lions have welcomed today's Ice Hockey UK statement, regarding the proposed introduction of a national Under 20's league to the UK hockey development pyramid.
The Lions understand that the new Under 20's league will be slotted inbetween the current Under 18's set-up and senior hockey and that the Nottingham Ice Hockey Club will be entering a team into the proposed new step on the junior hockey ladder.
Head Coach Matt Bradbury spoke to nottinghamlions.co.uk this afternoon and was very positive about the prospect of a new junior league addition, saying:
"We're most definitely in support and excited by Ice Hockey UK’s proposal for an Under 20's league - here in Nottingham, we have a wealth of talent and it's important that we can continually push our players to the next level - depending on the geographical structure across the country, it would be phenomenal to pull the North and South together, to have an amazing national league, creating a top level competition."
"It will give late-developing youngsters an extra couple of years to reach their potential and gives the Lions a bigger pool of players to draw from - it is also crucial as part of every player's development to have competition for places and the more competition equals better players."
"As soon as our players are eligible to train, we have them within the Lions squad and once they reach sixteen and are eligible to play, we look to offer them the platform to play senior hockey - it’s no good them just sitting on the bench, it is key that these youngsters play at the highest level and today's new proposal can only compliment what we already have in place here."
Bradbury then went on to praise the professionalism and enthusiasm of the NIHC's coaching staff, adding:
"What we have in Nottingham doesn’t just happen overnight, there's a lot of work constantly going on behind the scenes in the junior system, producing the players to make this possible and we must be grateful to the commitment of the volunteer coaches that give up a lot of time and go to a lot of effort to make this possible for the senior players of the future."
It is not yet clear as to when the proposed new tier could be introuduced but further information should be available after this month's EIHA annual general meeting and nottinghamlions.co.uk will continue to bring you further updates on this, as soon as we have them.