Hedley joins as Preece moves on
With news that last season’s back-up netminder Brython Preece will move on for the 2018/19 Elite League season, Genting Casino Coventry Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart has moved quickly to secure the services of 21-year-old fellow Brit Jordan Hedley from local rivals Milton Keynes Lightning.
Preece, 20, iced 8 times for the Blaze in Elite League and Challenge Cup competition, becoming a popular figure amongst fans and teammates in support of number one goalie Kevin Nastiuk.
His replacement, Hedley, from Walsall, is a product of the MK youth system, progressing to become the number one for the MK Thunder of the NIHL in 2012.
The following season saw him signed by the Lightning, then as part of the English Premier League (EPL) where he iced 21 times, going on to be picked as a starter for Great Britain’s under-18’s at the World Junior Championship Division2A.
A further season in the EPL with MK Lightning followed, playing 23 games before taking a step-up with his country to the under-20’s level, where he helped GB to a gold medal and promotion from the World Junior Championship Division2A.
For 2015/16, Hedley’s puck-stopping education continued under the guidance of vastly experienced Stevie Lyle, then also coach of the EPL’s Swindon Wildcats. Making 20 appearances, he was again picked for GB under-20’s, winning a bronze medal at the World Junior Championship Division1B.
A move back to Milton Keynes followed, playing 10 times, he ended the season an EPL Cup and Playoff double winner.
Last year, the 6’3” left-catcher moved up to the Elite Level with the Lightning icing in 8 games as back up to Polish international Przemyslaw Odrobny and later Miika Wiikman.
Stewart said: "First of all we want to thank Brython for his time with us. He became a popular member of our dressing room and we wish him nothing but the best in whatever challenge he decides to pursue moving forwards.
"To replace him though, we wanted somebody with some experience of playing in the Elite League and the demands that brings. Jordan reached out informing us that he was not going to return to MK and we quickly got a deal done. He’s a big guy and still at a young age to potentially grow as a goalie. Our back-up spot is important as we need a team guy in that position who buys in to being a support mechanism for our starter.
"It’s not an easy job in this league. You train a lot knowing the game time won’t come often. You do a lot behind the scenes in that role. Jordan is a good pro and a player who puts the needs of his team first. We are looking forward to welcoming him on board for the new season."
Hedley, commented, "I'm very excited to join the Blaze. It’s a great organisation and I’ve heard a lot of good things from former players. I want to thank Danny Stewart for giving me the opportunity and I can’t wait to get started."