The Raiders are delighted to welcome back an “old hand” as well as a very promising newbie to the Gold and Blue Colours.
Julian Smith was a notable victim of the Raiders faithful’s considerable voice whenever he appeared for the opposition and for good reason as he brings a great deal of experience as one of the league’s more senior defenceman. He has a physical edge but the sense and judgement to avoid being in the penalty box as often as his physical presence would normally be “rewarded”.
The 2017 / 2018 season will be Julian’s fifth in Gold and Blue colours, having first iced for the Raiders in season 2010/11, making his debut in a 6 – 0 ENL home win against Bristol Pitbulls. Of relevance to this season is he also brings experience at the second tier of British ice hockey from his time at Peterborough Phantoms.
Julian started his career at Peterborough his then home town team, progressing to make his senior debut for Peterborough Phantoms in 2002/3. He played for Great Britain in World Championships at both Under 18 and Under 20. In his time as a Phantom Julian made 286 appearances in EPL League, Cup and Play Off competitions, highlighted by being a member of the all conquering 2008/9 treble winning Phantoms. Julian also made 3 appearances for Nottingham Panthers in the Elite League.
Julian was spirited from the Phantoms to Romford at the end of 2009/10 season, and played for the Raiders for three seasons until the move to Lee Valley. In his final season as a Raider Julian captained the Raiders to the ENL South 1 league title.
Julian then joined Chelmsford Chieftains where in three seasons he won a further three NIHL South league titles, the last two as Captain, in addition to wins in Play Offs, League Cups and South East trophies, including his second career clean sweep in his last season for Chieftains in 2015/6. In all Julian made 141 appearances for Chieftains scoring 6 goals and getting 49 assists for 55 points.
Julian re-joined the Raiders at the start of last season and to date has made 176 appearances in all competitions (123 league appearances) and is ranked 28th in overall Raider appearances. For Raiders Julian has scored 12 goals which together with 91 assists for 103 points (10+71 for 81 league points) for a Raiders scoring ranking of 50th overall.
A calming influence at the back the 30 year old 6’2” D man will be wearing one of the A’s this season as coach Sean Easton added.
“It was a pleasure to work with Jules once before and he is a true leader. An experienced voice in the room and on the ice, which is just what we will need in the tougher league we are now in. Jules is a strong no nonsense D man who will do the little things right and play physical in his own end”.
“I’m really happy to be returning to the Raiders for a second season but my 5th season in total. A return was always on the cards and I am pleased to be teaming up again with Sean Easton. He’s is a great coach and I think with him involved we will become a more technical team. I’m excited by the team that is being put together and we clearly will have better depth this season with some great two way players like Matty Turner. The kids like Jake, Brandon & Ollie that are coming in have proven themselves and they will be a thorn in the side of other teams. It’s going to be an interesting year with the changes that have happened but a great challenge. I’m excited to get started and hear the support from our great fans”.
We can be certain that this is a signing that will delight all of the Raiders fans, despite the fact that Julian just announced our next signing who is…………….
19 year old Ollie Baldock is the first announced player who will be playing in the Raiders Gold and Blue for his debut season in 2017/2018.
Ollie’s junior career was at Chelmsford, apart from one season as a Cardiff Junior Devils. He made 52 appearances for Chelmsford Tomahawks (U/16) plus two tournament appearances for England before progressing to make 43 appearances for the Mohawks at Under 18 level. At both levels Ollie showed his scoring and goal making prowess averaging 2.4 points per game.
Ollie progressed into senior hockey, making his Chelmsford Warriors (NIHL2) and Chieftains (NIHL1) debuts in 2014/15 season. In the following season, his first full season in senior hockey being split between Chieftains and Warriors, Ollie was a productive part of the Chieftains team who won all four trophies on offer whilst also being a member of the Warriors who won all three NIHL trophies. In total Ollie has made 96 Chieftains / Warriors appearances, scoring 61 goals and 69 points for 130 points.
Coach Easton knows Ollie’s game as well as anyone as he elaborated.
“Again sticking to our youth, speed and skill ethos, at just 19 Ollie will also bring a surprisingly calm head. He is a high IQ player that brings a lot of hockey brains to the team enhanced by his experience. As a junior he was a high scoring threat and in his first NIHL 1 season last term he showed that he can play both offensive and defensive. Ollie is a fantastic defensive forward boasting +64 meaning when he is on the ice few goals are conceded but plenty are scored”.
“To be a part of such a big transition in British hockey is a great achievement for both myself and this club. With the league structure changing and Raiders moving back to Romford this season, I am delighted to be joining the Gold and Blue on its move to the ‘Second tier league’.
“Entering this new league is a big stepping stone in my career, playing against faster, stronger and in some cases better teams week in week out will only make myself and the team stronger as the season progresses. Going into next season as the underdogs is to be expected, but with the backing of such a large and supportive fan base throughout the season, will lead to many upsets and will make each and every game easier for us players. It’s going to be a tough experience for us all but an enjoyable one, to say the least! Roll on the 2017/18 season!”
Ollie clearly combined very productively with Jake Sylvester last season and Raiders are anticipating that their synergy will be visible again in Raiders colours.
Welcome to the Raiders Ollie!