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Young Raiders forward Hill says goalie James helped him secure Detroit move

PUBLISHED: 13:00 03 July 2020

Ewan Hill on the puck for Raiders (pic Nikki Day)

Ewan Hill on the puck for Raiders (pic Nikki Day)

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Former Romford Junior Raiders forward Ewan Hill has admitted netminder Ethan James played a part in helping him sign for Motor City Hockey Club after a move to El Paso Rhinos collapsed.

Ethan James in action for Raiders (pic John Scott)Ethan James in action for Raiders (pic John Scott)

The 17-year-old was due to join the WSHL outfit but the competition has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic which almost left him without a switch abroad that he was dreaming of.

But, thanks to shot-stopper James and more offers from abroad, he has found himself getting a contract with the Detroit-based USPHL side.

“I spoke to a few people that I know that have been away, I wanted to get my chance to go abroad and expand my dream of playing hockey,” Hill told Hockey From Across The Pond podcast.

“The main person I spoke to, who got me my offer, was Ethan James. I’ve known him for a very long time, we’ve played ice hockey and roller hockey together, we’ve always been in contact, and it came about that their manager was looking for a scoring forward.

“All the elements in the contract of what they’re providing me is what I’ve been looking for and it’s an opportunity for me to go out there and do what I need to do.

“It’s amazing what they’ve offered me, it’s linked in with teams like the Detroit Red Wings, playing and training with them.

“It’s a good chance for me to find my feet, make a name for myself, and start something new.”

The youngster knew from a young age that he wanted to play abroad, but knew the timing had to be right for him to make the switch.

“After the Quebec (World Pee-Wee Championships) experience I’ve always wanted to. America and Canada is where hockey is at, it’s one of the main sports, not like football, rugby and cricket over here,” he added.

“When I was around 14 or 15 I was offered to go OHA (Okanagan Hockey Academy), but at that age I wasn’t ready to leave, and more focused on my education. Now I’ve finished school, I’m picking up the pieces, and if I want a career in hockey I need to move away.

“I was meant to be going to El Paso Rhinos, it was all ready to go, but they announced the WSHL was cancelled and it was a bit of a kick in the teeth thinking I may not be going abroad this year.

“I reached out to Ethan, then it came out that Motor City were interested.”

Hill spent time with Romford, Invicta and Chelmsford juniors growing up but revealed how he first got into the sport at the old rink in Romford.

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“I started off public skating at the old Romford and disco nights then my dad thought it would be a good idea to put me in the junior programme as he never really got the chance to play when he was younger,” he asid.

“I’ve been through the junior programme ever since, until Romford closed so then I moved to Lee Valley to keep playing hockey when the rink was closed, then I moved onto Invicta to move up a league.

“By the time that came around I moved back to Romford, so I moved back. My family knew it wasn’t a cheap, it’s not like football boots and shin pads, you need to have all the gear but they knew I loved the sport and would put my whole heart into it.

“I don’t really stop playing, even when I’m away from the ice, I’m always playing hockey, NHL on the Xbox, watching hockey, in the garden shooting pucks or lifting weights.

“They know I give my life to the sport, it’s day-to-day life for me, so they know the expectation levels are high and they put all the money it requires into it.”

The forward, who was selected to play for Great Britain under-18s before the World Junior Championships were cancelled due to the pandemic, revealed when he realised he had some talent in the sport.

“I realised I had a talent in hockey when I started making the Conference teams around 10 or 11 years old and I sort of knew I had more of a talent when I made England under-13s and went to Quebec for a tournament in Pee-Wee,” he added.

“It was unreal, a kid from Romford, England, you’re not meant to be playing in a Pee-Wee tournament in Canada. It’s not known, so it was a great experience.

“I stayed out there with a billet family, people you never know you’re going to meet in life, the boys loved it as we were playing pond hockey every day. Playing or watching hockey 24-7.”

Hill also reflected on the season just gone where he finished fourth in the scoring charts for the second string Raiders.

“It was a good year for us in a way as we’re a development team, we’re young kids, we haven’t got all the professional players like the Raiders first team,” he said.

“We didn’t finish where we’d like to, but with our team we knew we’d develop individually and as a team, and the bond we have is like no other – we were like a family.

“We certainly could’ve finished higher, but things happen during the season such as injuries, and in certain times we were short of players.

“We’ve been through tough times, but I think we’ve done well as a team, and for me individually I only played half the season as I got injured at the start of the season.

“I took a hit to the head, got a concussion against Cardiff in the first game of the season, and it was tough to watch the team and go out playing against good teams suffering losses where we maybe shouldn’t have.

“I feel like I had a good season, putting up points, assists and contributing towards goals where they were needed.”


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