|League||Elite Ice Hockey League|
|Arena||Lee Valley Ice Centre|
|City||London, United Kingdom|
|Team Colours||Red and White|
|Owner||Roger Black, Tom Wills, Pavel Pojdl|
|General Manager||Scott Johnston|
The London Racers were a British ice hockey club based in London, England that were former members of the Elite Ice Hockey League. The club were formed in 2003, but claimed to be a successor of the Harringay Racers club established in the 1936. Due to a lack of suitable ice facility the club suspended its team operations part way through the 2005-06 season. It was the last professional ice hockey club to play in London.
2003-04 season[edit | edit source]
Formed and organized in only a few weeks, the Racers played their home games at Alexandra Palace. Their first season was a difficult one, as the team failed to win for some 40 games. Finally, a win arrived with a 3-0 victory over the Cardiff Devils. Another win followed as the team beat the Basingstoke Bison 4-0 with cult figure Mojmir Musil scoring twice. Erik Zachrisson captained the team and Evan Lindsay earned rave reviews in net. Jason Robinson quickly became a hero amongst the fans due in part to his committed play on the ice, but also in taking over the managerial reigns from Swedish coach Peter Ekroth. At the end of the season, team owner Roger Black promised the best was yet to come, and that the season was the first of a three year plan to reach the EIHL playoffs and ultimately challenge for the title.
2004-05 season[edit | edit source]
The team moved to the 1200 capacity Lee Valley Ice Centre in Leyton, East London. Though the arena was considered by some to be rather small and not fit for Elite League hockey, it served as home and the fans took to it (Block 7 was always a great place to be) and there was always very vocal support from the away fans. The offseason had seen some ambitious moves made by the management in hiring British hockey icon and former NHL draftee Dennis Maxwell as Head Coach. In an attempt to make the Racers a competitive team, Maxwell and assistant Robinson set about hiring players in their mould - strong and gritty with talent and a will to win. The likes of Ian MacIntyre and Steve Moria added massive experience to a roster which also featured young, up-and-coming British players in Mark Thomas, Adam Dobson, Richard Hargreaves, and Jason Hewitt. Though often criticised for their rough style of hockey, many found the team and the characters surrounding it to be a great source of entertainment. Perhaps nobody personified this better than Canadian enforcer Jeremy Cornish. Maligned around the league for a perceived lack of skating (or general) ability, Racers fans quickly took this young, affable lad from Ontario to heart as he took on and dominated some of the toughest players in the league, putting in endless hours to improve his game.
With the NHL lockout, Racers fans were lucky enough to have two players join their ranks from overseas. Tough defenceman Eric Cairns and elusive centre Scott Nichol joined the team (Nichol left mid-season due to a family illness but was to return) and added an experienced and talented core to the team which would see them make the playoffs, perhaps ahead of schedule. They were to be eliminated by the Cardiff Devils but after such a fantastic season for the London Racers, much optimism was held for the following season.
2005-06 season[edit | edit source]
The Racers continued development came to an abrupt end on November 21 2005. On November 5, during a game against the Nottingham Panthers, Slovenian defenseman Blaz Emersic sustained serious facial injuries after colliding with a protruding object in the rink boardings. Days later on November 13, a piece of plexi-glass was smashed. Though no supporters were hurt at the incident, it raised safety concerns. When the same section of glass smashed again at a training session the following Tuesday, serious questions regarding the safety of players and spectators watching top flight hockey at Lee Valley emerged.
Unable to find a new venue or secure agreement on improving safety at Lee Valley, the Racers withdrew their team from competitions on November 21.
[edit | edit source]
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