Its announcement time again for the Gold and Blue faithful!
The Raider’s management were first alerted to this returnee at Easter with coach Easton’s simple message “JC is back”. By that time we were already aware that the good eggs in the NIHL were likely to merge with the resurrected EPL so this confirmation was quite welcome.
We are of course referring to the return of highly experienced 26 year old D-man John Connolly for his third season in the Gold and Blue. John brings experience in both the Elite and EPL Leagues which is clearly going to prove valuable for the challenges ahead. Since joining the Raiders, John has made 53 appearances, scoring 4 goals and 19 assists for 23 points, despite missing a large part of last season with a leg injury.
John’s junior career included two seasons in Western States Hockey league with Texas and New Mexico Renegades, and he was selected for the Great Britain U/18 squad for two seasons for World Championships winning Gold and Silver Medals, and picking up a Best Defenceman award. He progressed to be selected twice for Great Britain Under 20 World Championship squad picking up Silver and Bronze medals.
John started his senior career home in Scotland making 54 appearances for Braehead and Edinburgh before moving on to the EPL where he has iced for Slough Jets, Manchester Phoenix and Milton Keynes Lightning, making a total of 61 league, cup and play-off appearances.
He gained further foreign experience with a brief spell in 2011/12 making 8 appearances for MHS Kazakhmys in Russia MHL League, before returning to play for Solway in NIHL North, for whom he picked up a league winner’s trophy having made 35 league / cup appearances, scoring 12 goals and 34 assists for 46 points.
John then moved to Chelmsford where he made 98 appearances in all competitions, scoring 10 goals and 64 assists for 74 points, picking up league and play off winner’s medals.
“I’m glad to be coming back to the Raiders for another season”.
On the subject that many forums will insist on discussing John added:-
“Sean and I have sat down and had a talk about what had happened in the past when I was at Chelmsford and it’s all been resolved and we can move forward now. I’m looking forward to the season ahead, which will be an interesting one for sure with a new look Raiders team and new look league.”
Coach Easton was keen to confirm the value he has always placed upon the Scot stating,
“JC brings with him a lot of experience from International, EPL and NIHL hockey which is exactly what we need with our tough challenge this season. Calm head, smooth skating and able to be an offensive threat from the back. JC will also be supporting the letter A on his shirt to voice his experience with our young hungry squad. He was my first signing after a good sit down chat, and he is looking forward to getting going. Already back on the ice shaking off the summer rust, JC and the rest of your Raiders will be ready to go from the first puck drop.”
Adding to an already strong looking defensive line up the Raiders are also delighted to welcome back a player who made an immediate impact when he joined the team towards the end of last season.
Having re-joined the Raiders in January 2017, Andy Munroe has agreed to return to play for the Raiders as we make the preparations for a return season to Romford as he explained:
“I’m delighted to be returning to the Raiders for the coming season. I only iced for a few months at the end of last season due to work/life commitments, so it will be good to get a full season behind me this year after missing most of last season. The merging of the leagues will undoubtedly increase the standard of the league overall. This will mean we as a team need to come back fitter, stronger, focused and ready to achieve the targets that we will set ourselves for the year. The squad Sean and Alan are putting together seems competitive and we should enjoy a good season. I’m looking forward to getting my skates back on and getting going. I also just wanted to highlight that the Raiders fans should be very proud of the support they provide the club both physically and financially. This enables the viability of the team, so us players can do what we enjoy and hopefully entertain you all. We thank you for your continued support”.
On the subject of this season’s chosen charity Andy was also keen to show his approval.
“I am also very pleased to see the club’s support of the National Autistic Society with the new warm-up shirts and other planned fund raising. My youngest daughter Neve has recently been diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum and so it is something close to our hearts. Because Autism affects sufferers in a very individual way, getting the right level of support is so important. Anything that we can do to help with that support is such a good thing. Have a great summer and look forward to seeing the G&B soon. AM #11”
Andy brings a wealth of experience and BNL and then EPL level of ice hockey making a total of 632 appearances in all BNL / EPL League, Cup and Play Off competitions, scoring 18 goals and 81 assists for 99 points.
He made his debut for Hull Thunder in 2000, and went on to make 142 appearances scoring four goals and six assists for ten points.
Andy then plied his trade in Peterborough in 2004 and in his 5 years as a Phantom made 244 appearances in all competitions, scoring 10 goals and 43 assists for 53 points; and was a member of the Phantoms treble winning team.
He had his first spell for The Raiders making 35 appearances in the fated 2009/10 EPL season under coach Jesse Hamill, moving mid-season to Slough Jets where he won another EPL Play Off title in 2010 and a cup winners medal in 2011, making a total of 87 appearances for the Jets. He then switched to Bracknell where in two seasons he made 109 appearances for the Bees, before moving back to his native north to join Billingham Stars for whom he made 97appearances in NIHL North league and cup competitions.
Andy re-joined the Raiders in January following a house move and took his Raiders appearances to a total of 53 with two goals and six assists for 8 points.
Coach Alan Blyth was keen to outline the reasoning behind signing Andy.
“Munzie is a huge signing for us this year. When he came in last year he really steadied the ship. Solid at the back and also quick to turn defence to offence when required. A smart defenceman on the blue line and will help the younger d-men with advice and guidance too. I know that there were lots of teams after the signature of Andrew and we are very pleases that he has chosen to return once again to the Raiders.”
Welcome back John and Andy, and as ever the team will be taking orders for these undoubtedly popular shirts as soon as this announcements pops up on the various web and social media sites.