Raiders re-sign Nahlik and Burnett

It will be a disappointment when we have to break the habit, but your Friday fact feast continues for another week at least.

This week we are delighted to announce the return for a third season in Gold and Blue of 33 year old Slovakian forward Marek Nahlik. His energetic style marks him out as a typical Raiders favourite and with more line mates of a similar ilk this season we are confident that we will be able to extract even more from him.

Marek had a 10 year career primarily in Slovakia League 2, including six seasons with HJC Topolcany before moving to the UK to play for Invicta Dynamos. In that stint in2014-15 he made 28 appearances in all competitions scoring 25 goals and 23 assists for 48 points. After a season back in Slovakia for HMK Humenne Marek moved to London for the 2015-16 season as the management had remembered more than most the potential Marek showed in that first UK season.

Despite an injury disrupted season last term, Marek has made 79 appearances for the Raiders in all competitions, scoring 75 goals and 52 assists for 127 points (54 goals and 43 assists for 97 points in league games). He was top scorer in his first season for the Raiders and joint top scorer last season. His 127 points see him in 36th place in all time scoring, and will be looking to quickly become the 35th player to score 100 league points for the Raiders.

Coach Alan Blyth was keen to sing Marek’s praises as he commented that

“the decision to bring back Nahlik to the Gold and Blue for a third season was an easy one for me and Sean. Nahlik started last season on fire and had the lamp constantly lit. However an injury-hit second half of the season meant that he could not play to his full. I’m sure after a summers rest and a good pre-season we will see Marek back looking even fitter and ready to go.”

Marek was keen to point out his eagerness to be playing at “Romford” again this season.

“I am very happy to be carrying on in Romford. This season our team will be stronger than previously with the signing of good new players and also the existing older players with lots of experience”

The team are certainly anticipating seeing the Marek that started so well last season combining well with his linemates till departures and injury reduced his points tally.

Our “something old, something new” traditional is slightly under examination here as our second announcement played for the Raiders last season, but at 16 he still qualifies as “new”.

Current GB Under 16 international Defenceman Callum Burnett has re-signed for the Raiders having joined the squad on his 16th birthday in January this year, becoming the first player born in the 21st century to make a Raiders appearance.

Following the closure of the Romford rink, Callum moved to Slough Jets to progress through their junior ranks under the watchful eye of ex Raider Ben Pitchley, making appearances each year for South East in the Inter Regional Conference. Callum has also made 13 tournament appearances for Great Britain Under 16s, scoring twice with assists on two further goals.

Callum made his Raiders debut in an NIHL league game at Invicta in January 2017 just days after his 16th birthday having spent all season travelling with and supporting the team at training. He went on to make 16 appearances in all competitions for the Raiders, scoring once, the Raiders 4th goal in a 4-4 draw at Bracknell Hornets.

Coaches Blyth and Easton are very familiar with Callum’s talents and after recent GB under 16’s duties national coach Sean Easton summarised Callums appeal.

“Callum is an exciting up and coming prospect. Recently representing Great Britain u16s in Czech also last season in Madrid. Callum has good size and strength for his age,”

With an eye on the Raiders squad size this season Easton was keen to add.

“Callum will also be on a 2 way this year to make sure he keeps developing with good ice time”.

Callum was difficult to track down for his thoughts for the coming season but he interrupted an on ice session during a 6 week hockey camp in Penticton, British Columbia to chat through his hopes for the coming season. When he returns from Canada he will be straight into trials for the GB under 18’s.

“It is great to be in the squad again this season and my targets are just to play the best I can and develop. Getting back on ice with some familiar names from the old Romford junior system is also something I am looking forward to. I’d love to get more ice time and will do all I can to show that I can step up another level.”

“Last season the players and the fans made me so welcome and that helped my transition from Junior to Senior Hockey. I just want to fight hard for my spot and get a regular shift amongst the guys I used to train with as a junior. The two way we are working on will just ensure I get the all-important ice time and hopefully give me a chance to offer more to both teams.”

Callum is another with an eye to the future in the new showcase leisure centre development in Romford town centre where the Raiders will be playing in 2018.

“I am taking my level 1 coaching so hopefully I can start to put that to good use and help the coaching set up with the youngsters in the new junior programme.”

Welcome back to both Marek and Callum.