Just under a year ago we spoke with Calum Ruddick, about his thoughts of the all-new NIHL ice hockey team.
Thanks for speaking to us Calum, this time last year we were speaking about the seatless but welcoming Silver-Blades ice rink and about the previous month you had spent training with Mick and Mark, what are your thoughts one year later?
On a whole i would say its been a very successful first 12 months for the club both on and off the ice. Nobody expected outside the club expected us to Finnish in 5th place, the fan base we have got in the first season is great. Everybody is very committed to making this club and project work and so far i feel it has. Mark, Pete, Gaz are good to have involved with the team. They all bring something to the team. Mick does a lot behind the scene’s to make this work as does Matt Lloyd without them it wouldn’t be the success it is. I can honestly say it was a pleasure to play for widnes and hope it continues for many years – it really is a good place to play hockey.
Last season you mentioned to me that you wanted this to be a big season for you personally, after a lot of time off the ice in 2012/13 season which started at Deeside. A first line D all season, How do you feel you did in 2013/14 at Wild?
We got off to a rough start but we managed to turn it around and played right thought to the end of the season and to make the play offs int he final game away at hull was special. Personally i think I had a decent season, but i am hoping to have a good offseason and come back fitter and ready to offer the team more. The coaches shown a lot of faith in my ability and i tried to repay that faith shown by playing as well as i could in every game i played, but i want to improve on last season. It was a nice to recieve managers player of the year at the awards night, but ice hockey is a team sport and its all about the team and getting as many wins as we can. We have a good changing room and its good to be part of a team that is at a club for the right reasons.
It seems that the Wild has instantly taken a place in the hearts’ of the locals. It must be great to see converted hockey fans be so passionate, did you expect such a strong weekly turn out so early on?
No i didn’t expect to have so many fans in the first season, they are amazing, some are pretty mad but in a good way, they show some much passion towards the team its great to play in front of them every game, we always take a great following to away games also which not many teams manage to do. I would like to take this chance to thank all the fans from all the players as we all appreciate the support they have shown us through the good and bad games!
What would you now personally think the team need to consider for next seasons target, after proving they can get big results at important times?
Next season we need to carry on where we left off, we have shown we can take points of the so called big boys in the league, and we pushed solihull all the way in the play-off’s. After christmas we put ourselves in a better place, brought some new faces in that made a big difference to the team, everything seemed to click and we put in some good performances, after some really poor game at the start of the year, but with being a new team we knew it wouldn’t be easy right away but we knew we had to just keep going and have faith in what we were doing, it paid off in the end. I feel we are a few players away from really competing with the top 3. Off the ice and behind the scenes everything is ran very professionally, so its down the to squad of players we sign to take it onto the ice. I think top 3 should be the target for next season, there is no reason why we can’t achieve that. The league will continue to get stronger so it won’t be easy but the boys will be ready to go.
Lastly, a great season one which was full of great moments, what was your personal highlight?
There was a few great moments during the season, the first win was good, away in sheffield, and to score in that game was nice as it doesn’t happen to often. We have built up a good local rivalry with Deeside Dragons, them games were always fun to play in, especially the last 2 games, the atmosphere was brilliant, both sets of fans are a credit to their clubs. Beating Deeside was nice for sure – its a real derby when we play each other, hopefully there will be 4 good games next season with us and them. Personally playing in the play off weekend was the high light of my season. To push solihull like we did and to come up short in the last 10 minutes against a team that is as good as they are, was nothing to be ashamed of. The amount of fans we took down there was brilliant. Also the chance to play on the same team as some really good friends has been fun all season.
Thanks for speaking to us, good luck for next season and look forward to seeing you in action very soon!