Hazeldine positive on Storm-y future

Manchester Storm defenceman Joe Hazeldine was on the verge of a call-up, but could still feature if there are any withdrawals (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

Manchester Storm defenceman Joe Hazeldine admits leaving Nottingham Panthers was a wrench, but felt it was a move he had to make.

The 20-year-old has impressed in the Elite Series so far, after penning a three-year deal to join Ryan Finnerty’s men.

And, speaking on the latest episode of The BIH Show, he’s already learned a lot from his new team-mates as he starts out on the new phase of his career.

“The decision to finally leave Panthers was tough and I had to weigh up a lot of options,” Hazeldine said. “The age I am now, I need to be playing more minutes and Ryan Finnerty offered me that with Manchester.

“I was looking forward to coming here for a new season, but it was shut down because of the virus.  I’m glad this tournament came up and I’m loving getting the chance to play a lot of minutes.

“I’m taking a lot things in and learning a lot, especially from Dallas (Ehrhardt), who’s been my D partner.  With ‘Klav’ (Andreas Klavestad) being out, we’ve had to club together and I feel like I have a role here. I’m definitely excited about the future in Manchester.”

Hazeldine is currently back in his hometown of Nottingham for the competition, but Covid regulations and procedures mean he’s restricted in what he can do.

He spoke of being back in the arena, a place with so many good memories for him, the influences on him with Nottingham Panthers and joked how an emergency trip to the family home might be in order.

“It’s been different to be back playing in the Motorpoint Arena and be back where it all started for me,” he added.  “I’ve certainly enjoyed being back home and I’ve been showing some of the guys the sights on the walks we’ve been on so it’s been great.

Hazeldine was sold on the possibility of more ice time by Storm coach Ryan Finnerty (PHOTO: Karl Denham)

“My family are in the city so unfortunately, I can’t just pop out and see them because of the procedures we have, but my washing might need doing soon. It’s hard, but for the best to keep everyone safe.

“Looking back though, Panthers are one of the biggest clubs in the country and being part of that, seeing the professionalism, it’s definitely set me up as a professional along the way.

“Stepping up from the juniors was a difficult one, but I did the best I could.  I did get down about a few things, but as I’ve got older, it’s been about not getting too high or too low and that’s one thing I picked up from playing with the players I did.

“The influences I’ve had have really helped, especially in the low times and I’ve also learned to take everything in, like a sponge.  I’m not at the veteran status yet, but if I can be half the guy those people were for me, I’ll be happy.”

The BIH Show is available to watch on YouTube and can be downloaded as an audio podcast via your preferred podcast provider.  Search for “British Ice Hockey”, subscribe and don’t miss an episode.

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