Birmingham Eagles

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Birmingham Lions
League British Universities Ice Hockey Association
Divisions Division 2 (North)
Division 1 and 2 Non-checking (North)
History 2001 – present
Home Arena Solihull Ice Arena
Former Home Arena Planet Ice Birmingham
Club Captain Benjamin Giblin
Head Coach Matt Wassall
Universities University of Birmingham
Birmingham City University
Aston University
Team Colours Blue, Yellow, White, Red
                   
Honours 2007 Division 2 Southern Conference Champions; 2012 Division 2 National Championships Runners up; 2013 Division 2 Champions; 2013 Division 2 Non-checking Champions
Website birminghameagles.co.uk, facebook profile

The Birmingham Lions Ice Hockey Club (Formerly the Birmingham Eagles Ice Hockey Club) is the Ice hockey club that represents the higher education establishments of the West Midlands Conurbation. They currently play in the British Universities Ice Hockey Association.

History[edit]

The Madpuckers years:

The club can be considered a direct descendant of the former English Division 1 team the Birmingham Rockets which folded in 2001[1] Several of the players were at local universities at the time and the fledgling BUIHA was beginning to attract more institutions. While it is not clear how or when the decision was made, "PK" Coles, owner of the hockey equipment shop named Madpuckers, began to attract university students from Aston University, UCE (now Birmingham City University) and The University of Birmingham through advertising on campus and his equipment shop. While a controversial figure, it cannot be denied that PK’s enthusiasm and generous equipment deals were instrumental in getting the club off the ground.

By 2002/2003 with several rocket players still retained due to a BUIHA rule allowing up to 5 non-university players to assist development, the "Madpuckers" as they were then known, were still playing infrequent games against University sides and local rec teams.

In April 2003 the ‘madpuckers’ entered the second national championships held at the NIC in Nottingham. With only 1 point and 3 goals over the preliminary rounds they did not progress.

Becoming The Eagles and the end of the PK era - 2003/2004:

At the start of the 2003/2004 season PK designed a new logo and rebranded the madpuckers the Eagles. The colours went from bright yellow solids to mainly black with light blue stripes. The new logo appeared to be a modified version of the Boston College Eagles logo. The Eagles entered the BUIHA cup competition as a founder member of Division 2. The season was hampered with transportation problems and the only games completed were those against Nottingham B. The fateful home and home against Nottingham B was noteworthy for 2 reasons;

1) The 1st game of the series played at Solihull Ice Arena (the Eagle’s new home as Planet Ice Birmingham had closed due to fire) resulted in a comprehensive 9-3 victory for the Eagles. The return leg was mired in controversy as the Nottingham B side reversed the decision by the same score. It was obvious to those that had been at the first leg that the Nottingham team was made up of substantially different personnel and upon investigation of player names it was discovered that over half of the Nottingham B team in the second leg in fact played for the Nottingham A team. At this time in the BUIHA timeline this was not against any rules and therefore the result stood. As a direct result of lobbying by the Eagles of the BUIHA a rule was implemented to prevent players ‘dropping down’ whilst also leaving for provisions to allow promotion/demotion between teams within clubs.

2) In the 2nd game of the series with the Eagles losing then coach PK Coles summarily quit coaching in the middle of the game, choosing instead to sit in the stands and watch. After this incident it was widely held by senior members of the club and the club committee that PK should have no further role to play within the club; however, his influence was underestimated and he continued to coach the development squad until the end of the season.

For the first time during the 2003/4 season the Ice Hockey Club was recognised as a student organisation by the Guild of Students at the University of Birmingham. It was clear that neither party was happy with the arrangement; from the Guild perspective, Ice Hockey was seen as poorly organised and expensive. From the perspective of the club the Guild were unwilling to fund although the main issue was that the Guild was not the Athletic Union. Recognition by other universities was hard to achieve due to the number of students involved at each institution.

The Eagles entered 2 teams into the national championships, the A team went into the tier 1 competition and the development squad (B-team) entered the Tier 2 competition. The A team shared a similar fate in 2004 that they did in 2003, after 3 games of the preliminary round they were eliminated with only 1 point and 3 goals scored. The B team earned the Birmingham Eagles’ first victory at a national championship with a win over Northumbria in the preliminary round. Due to a poorly constructed competition format the Eagles were denied an opportunity to advance past the preliminary round.

This disappointing end to the season also signified the end of the PK era; while he would occasionally be seen at practices over the next few years, his influence over the team was finished.

Student Run Eagles 2004 onwards.

The 2004/5 season began with a full complement of committee members striving to improve both the running of the team and the on-ice product. Fresher’s fairs at all representative institutions were organised to ensure the best available talent was recruited. Fixtures were organised well in advance to prevent the embarrassing situation of the previous year that saw the academic year end with cup competition fixtures remaining. Custom team clothing in University colours was ordered and a dress code for games was implemented. The A team began play in the southern conference of Division 2 placing them for the first time in the same conference as closest geographical rivals Warwick University. The B team that performed so heroically at the National Championships was retained and began play in the Tier 3 south cup competition; although very few games were played in this division nationwide.

2011-2012 Season.

With a full committee and around 50 registered players beginning the year, the Eagles entered two teams into the 'Cup Competition' and the 'National Championships'. Both the division two and three teams finishing third in the cup. The B-teams Eagles placed fourth in their group at the National Championships, with the final game against Nottingham seeing the goalie Edgars Griga (Edgars Grīga) 'mean-machine' ejected from the game for a woodchopper-esque slash, helping to contribute to the 183 PIM amassed in the twenty minute running clock game. The Division two side finished runners up to Huddersfield Ice Hawks, but still remained undefeated in regulation time. To finish a promising season the team will enter the Athletics Union in 2012-13 and has been nominated as 'Guild Sport of the Year'.

2012-2013 Season

The 2012-2013 Season was the most successful season in the clubs history with the A team winning every league game they played and convincingly winning the play off for the division 2 championship against the Sheffield Bears B. The B team came second in division 1 non-checking south to Southampton Spitfires B on goal difference. This was the first time the Club had entered a C team into the cup competition and they won the Division 2 non-checking competition.

Changing to the Lions

For the 2013-2014 season the club had to change its kit and name to the Lions to conform with other sports teams affiliated with the University of Birmingham.

References[edit]