1 new and 2 returnees for Raiders
The London Raiders are pleased to welcome back a player that has already made 144 appearances in the Gold and Blue uniform and during that time managed to score 11 goals and 79 assists whilst preventing many more points at the other end of the ice.
He represented GB at under 18 and under 20 level and has been putting his robust defensive abilities to good use for the past three seasons since leaving the Raiders (on the very last game at RVW) as demonstrated by the regular abuse he has received from the G&B faithful
He can boast over 150 games in the EPL and over 200 games in the ENL/NIHL. He offers exactly the sort of defensive application that will help the Raiders secure their ambitions for climbing the league table. We are of course alluding to the respected background and experience offered by Julian Smith who has recently agreed terms for the coming season.
Smith confirmed his return explaining â€œ I am really excited to be returning to the Raiders. I have already been able to clock up three seasons with them previously and I am now looking forward to adding to my time with the club and pulling on the jersey again. It is obvious the season is going to be full of new and exciting challenges which has certainly motivated me to ensure I am ready to jump in head first and help the team compete.â€
Raiders management believe Smithâ€™s signing will be a major boost to the team as part of the year on year plans for a successful return to Romford.
â€œSince Julian dropped from the EPL he has always managed to appear in a successful team and we are sure that we and he are not planning on that changing this year. He is a no nonsense physical defenceman and reads the game well leading to a good number of assists. We are certainly looking forward to seeing his influence this coming season.â€
Welcome back Julian
The London Raiders are also pleased to confirm what many fans would have already suspected in that a pair of favourites will be back patrolling the blue line in what is shaping up to be a reinforced Raiders line up.
Matt France is a very welcome returnee and his reappearance part way through last season was an injection of reliability and composure. Coach Alan Blyth reinforced the welcome as he pronounced how â€œhappy he was to have Matt back on board for the 2016/17 season.
â€œMatt has great vision for the game and is passionate about playing the correct way. Matt was one that got away at the start of last season who we missed greatly but was glad to see him return mid-way through last season and help shore up our defence. He is a big asset for the team on and off the ice.
At 31 years of age Matt is in his third spell with the Raiders having made his debut in November 2006. Since that time he has appeared 51 times with 7 goals and 9 assists but is certain to add to that tally this season.
Matt added â€œIâ€™m happy to be back in a Raiders shirt for the upcoming season, and excited for the season to start having spoken to the management over the summer and seeing the squad we have assembled, and try and bring a trophy to Lee Valley next season for the fansâ€.
Jack Cooper capped last season with the Defenseman Of The Year award to add to the previous seasonâ€™s newcomer of the year. That form and progress were amongst the many reasons to sign him for another season at Lee Valley.
Coach Alan Blyth added â€œI am delighted to get jack back in Gold and Blue for this season. Jack is composed on the puck and I feel he learnt a lot last season and matured as a player. He is still very young and will make mistakes however given the ice time and guidance I’m sure he can be one of the best British D-men in this league in years to come. Having worked with Jack for a number of years through the Romford Junior System I know that he will always give his all when on the ice.
Jackâ€™s debut was on 15 November 2014 v Chelmsford Chieftains and he has now racked up 71 appearances for a total of 15 points. Jack already holds a team record but we suspect it is one he is keen to lose this season. With 15 assists and no goals Jack holds the record for the most points by a player that has not scored a goal. Itâ€™s a surprising record considering how adept he is at carrying the puck and joining the attacking plays which is to be expected considering his early years were as an accomplished forward. He has come very close to breaking it on many occasions and when it goes, as it surely will, we expect one of the seasons biggest cheers!
Jack added â€œI’d just like to say that I’m looking forward to another good year with the Raiders. It’s my home club and I wouldn’t sign anywhere else. The fans are great and that I’m hoping for a higher spot on the table this year and I think we can achieve it with some of the new signings this season.
Unfortunately the season is still over 3 months away!