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Awards surprise for London Raiders' Seb Downing

PUBLISHED: 13:00 06 May 2016

London Raiders forward Seb Downing in action against Chelmsford in the play-offs (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders forward Seb Downing in action against Chelmsford in the play-offs (pic: John Scott)

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Rookie forward doubles up for club

Seb Downing admitted it was a ‘massive surprise’ to win the coaches and players’ player of the year awards for London Raiders this season.

A statement from the Lee Valley-based club, when announcing the signing of the virtally unknown entity last summer, said: “We suspect this will be a breakthrough season for Seb and next season may see more competition for his signing.”

And it proved somewhat prophetic as the teenaged forward’s hard-working displays earned lots of praise as he chipped in with useful points to help clinch a play-off place.

The individual accolades were deserved, but unexpected for rookie Downing, who said: “It was great to get coaches player and players’ player, I honestly didn’t expect it at all.

“To get coaches player with the quality of players we have on our team and for them to then vote for me as the players’ player was a massive surprise.

“Coming into the start of the season I would have been content just sitting on the bench and I’m sure that’s what a lot of people expected, but Blythy and the management gave me a chance to play.

And the fans and players made my first senior season so much easier for me on and off the ice and I’m very grateful for that.”

Downing had split his junior career between Romford, before the old Rom Valley Way rink closed, Chelmsford and Lee Valley and was pleased to see Jack Cooper claim the club’s best defenceman award.

He added: “Having played with Cooper for some of my junior years at Romford you can only be impressed with the level he’s at now.

“When I arrived during under-16s he was still a forward and to make that transition and to now be one of the best defencemen in this league is beyond impressive.”

Downing played in all 48 matches for Raiders during the campaign, along with fellow youngster Bailey Chittock, and collected 14 goals and 13 assists.

And he was quick to praise the impact made by Slovakian import Marek Nahlik, who won the Supporters’ player of the year and best forward awards, and best newcomer Mason Webster.

“Players like Nahlik and Mason have been a massive help to me in my first year of senior hockey,” added Downing.

“Having someone like Mason who puts his body on the line for the team no matter what and can still put up a large amount of points is impressive, so it’s no surprise that he’s received that sort of recognition.

“Nahlik is one of those players that you know if he has the puck on his stick it’s most likely ending up in the back of the net.

“For him to win the fans award is no surprise and if he can score another six goals against Streatham then I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets it again!”

But if Downing returns to Raiders for the 2016/17 campaign and keeps producing the goods on the ice himself, he could well have a say in the voting for that prize in a year’s time.

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