The Nottingham Lions have announced the retirement of the number 7 jersey, as stalwart forward Chris Colegate revealed he is quitting hockey after twelve years with the club.

It is the first time any Lions player has received the honour.

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Since 1999, the 27 year-old has iced for both the Nottingham Junior Ice Hockey Club and the Lions.

Chris played in the ED1 (now the ENL) in the 1999/2000 season and then went onto play for two seasons in the English Premier League (EPL) 2000/01 and 2001/02 as the team stepped up a class to play against the pros. During this period Chris weighed in with 9 goals and 8 assists in 28 games (2001-02) and 9 goals and 6 assists in 32 games (2002-03).

The left-winger struck up a lethal partnership with Joe Wightman that has tormented many a defence and netminder over the years and has led the team to many successful campaigns.

Current Lions coach Matt Bradbury brought Chris through to the Lions from the junior set up to make the big step into senior hockey at just 15 years of age and Matt spoke to about Colegate’s time with the organisation;

“He was not the biggest guy on the ice, but what I saw in him when he first came through to the Lions was how hard he worked, how much heart and passion he had for the game and this was clear to see at such an early age.”

“He is still a great player to this day and such a true professional. All players look up to Chris and he was always that go to guy and he never let his team mates down.”

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Back in December, Chris picked up and injury against Telford after playing in 15 games. Having already racked up 10 goals and 15 assists, he still finished third top points scorer in the team and Bradbury was in no doubt what a big loss to the team he was;

“As we got to December, we lost our captain and we missed his experience and I’m quite sure we wouldn’t be in the position we are in right now if Chris had managed to play on.”

Colegate did recover in time to play in his testimonial game in April and he also made a return for the Lions’ relegation playoff weekend against Sutton Sting in May, contributing one goal and four assists across the two games.

Everyone at the Lions’ Pride would like to wish Chris all the best for the future.

Thursday, 17 May 2012.