Year 10 student Sam Dean plays competitive ice hockey and travels the country taking part in the sport most weekends. Sam, who has been involved in the sport for five years, plays left wing for the U-14 team of the Peterborough Phantoms. Last year the team, coached by Richard Fraley, came second in the U14 south 1 league that meant they progressed through to the Nationals competition. This year the pace of the team has already been fast and furious with Sam taking part in matches at Chelmsford and Bracknell this past weekend.
Sam said: ‘I got into the sport because my brother played and now I train with the Phantoms three times a week. First I did the ‘Learn to Skate’ programme with the ice rink, then ‘Saturday skills’ where you learn basics like skating with the puck. I play left wing and my role is to pass the puck on to the centre for scoring. It is a fast game, you have got to skate, have good control of the puck and you have got to know how to pass the puck and maybe even take a shot at the net.’
The length of the game varies with junior games lasting for three periods of 15 minutes, which increases to 20 minutes for adult games and there can be anything from 11 to 22 players per side. Sam sources most of his equipment from America where the game is incredibly popular.
‘It is a growing sport in this country. I have been over to America and watched a few professional games as it is a lot faster there. The best thing is that it is a contact sport so there are not many rules. You have to wear a lot of padding but I haven’t had any injuries. My friends all think it is quite cool that I play ice hockey and last year we made it to the nationals where the top teams in the country come together. If you are really good there is the chance to play professionally.’