Raiders coach Sean Easton revealed he and the organisation have made every effort to adapt to the new world since coronavirus, but can’t wait for a good old game of hockey.
The Romford side make their bow in the Spring Cup where they’ll take on last season’s National League champions Telford Tigers in their first two games.
And Easton revealed his team are in good shape after enjoying some regular ice time in the last few months.
“As a club, we’ve had to try and keep active on social media and remind people we’re there,” he said. “You soon have to adapt to trying different things and there was a quiet spell, but we’ve tried new things and ways of keeping people informed.
“The good thing about the last 11 months is we’ve found our technology fingers and found a way of working the business from an online point of view and I’m sure the gold and blue faithful will be pleased to be watching some hockey again.
Everyone Active Raiders can confirm the signing of forward Glenn Billing ahead of 2021 NIHL National League Spring Cup
— Raiders IHC (@Raiders_IHC) February 18, 2021
“It’s going well and luckily, all of our players agreed to come back and wanted to play. Unfortunately, Blaho (Blahoslav Novak) and Lukas Sladkovsky are stuck abroad and wasn’t viable for them to return and play in a short tournament.
“Because of our youth and enthusiasm, we’ve been training as much as possible since September. We’ve been training solidly since Christmas when we got our elite status, keeping people and we’ve ramped it up since we knew we would be taking part in the Spring Cup.
“The players should be in good shape. We look fast and fit and have been on the ice as much as possible.”
Despite Novak and Sladkovsky’s absence, Easton has moved to bring in experienced pair Zach Sullivan and Liam Stewart, plus young prospect Ben Solder, a two-way player with experience in North America, not to mention Juraj Huska, who returns after a year with Invicta Dynamos and Glenn Billing.
Easton spoke about the addition of Solder in particular and how, despite the challenges Covid has brought, he insists on remaining true to his ethos.
“Ben is a great addition and he’s hockey mad,” he added. “If you could let him stay on the ice 24/7, he would probably do it, such is his enthusiasm.
“I’ve known him for a long time and first met him at the Learn to Play set up at Chelmsford a few years ago. I’ve coached him at junior level and with GB and internationally, was a top end player for us.
“His development has gone through the roof and working in North America has done him the world of good. He’ll open a few eyes and I know there are teams higher up who are looking at him. Ben’s got a point to prove and he’ll relish the chance to play in his tournament.
“My ethos here at Raiders has always been to bring in young and local talent, with experience added where we can.
“We’re not a huge budget team, so it’s establishing and building on that core and guys like Liam Stewart and Zach Sullivan, another player I’ve coached before, will be needed for these next few weeks.”