UK Ice Hockey Hall of Fame
Each year the Hall of Fame selection committee (listed below) recognises individuals – usually players but also coaches, match officials and administrators – who have rendered outstanding service to British ice hockey.
The original Hall of Fame (1948-55) was created by Bob Giddens, a Canadian journalist and player based in London, who was the editor/publisher of the weekly newspaper Ice Hockey World. The Hall of Fame was revived in 1986 under the auspices of the British Ice Hockey Writers Association, which later become Ice Hockey Journalists UK.
The sport’s governing body, Ice Hockey UK, took over the organisation of the Hall in 2018.
The current members of the Hall of Fame are…
The goalie known by his fans as The Cat enjoyed one of the longest and most consistently successful careers of any British netminder. The Cardiff-born keeper burst onto the scene at the tender age of 14 in 1994 with his hometown side, the Devils, and went on to play for 23 seasons, 12 of them at the top level.
Along the way, he collected two league trophies, two playoff titles and a Challenge Cup. His agility in the nets earned him six Best British Netminder awards, places on three All-Star first teams – and one second team – and a Player of the Year honour.
While the major part of his British career (10 seasons) was spent in Cardiff, he also strapped on his pads with Manchester Storm and Belfast Giants, and in the second tier with Guildford Flames, Bracknell Bees, Basingstoke Bison and latterly three terms with Swindon Wildcats.
He took his talents overseas for three years – in the USA, Italy and France where he was numbered among the French league’s All-Stars.
The highlight of his British league career, he recalled, was winning the inaugural Superleague season with the Devils in 1996-97 when the league voted him their Player of the Year.
“That was amazing,” he said. “I was only 17 and I was playing with all those imports.”
His ambition was to compete on the world’s greatest ice hockey stage, the NHL, and he took a big step towards this in the summer of 1997 when he was the highest goalie drafted by the Canadian (junior) Hockey League. He signed a three-year contract with Detroit (Plymouth) Whalers but competition for the goalie spot was crowded and he ended that season on their farm team.
Internationally, he was capped 82 times for Great Britain in 13 World Championship tournaments and seven Olympic Qualifiers (all are records for a GB goalie), compiling an overall 2.53 goals against average. When coach Peter Woods gave him his World Championship debut in 1996 with a 4-2 win over Belarus at the age of 16, he was the youngest goalie ever to play in Britain’s colours.
Only a few months earlier, he had made a splash in the U20 World Championship, gaining man of the match honours in three of GB’s four games.
Lyle was younger still when he was picked by his coach John Lawless to start for the Devils in a Continental Cup quarter-final match in 1994 at the ridiculously early age of 14. The gamble paid off as he backstopped the Devils to a 6-2 win over the heavily favoured Ukrainian champs Sokol Kiev and the club went on to qualify for the Cup semis.
“I don’t remember being particularly impressed with this,” he said. “I was so young I suppose I thought it was normal.”
Stevie Lyle retired at the end of the 2016-17 season after three years with the Wildcats where he also coached some games with the English Premier League side.
By Stewart Roberts. Photo credit: Helen Brabon.
Scottish international goaltender Charles Huddlestone was renowned as the pied piper of ice hockey in the late 1950s and early 1960s, leading a nomadic band of Scottish players to entertain the fans in England. In this dark era for the sport, his tireless work helped to keep the game alive on both sides of the border.
The Glasgow-based Huddlestone, better known as Charlie or Chuck, regularly took his men to play at Brighton, Southampton, Whitley Bay, Durham, Blackpool and Altrincham, which were the only ice hockey rinks in England in those days. Charlie doubled as coach driver, bundling them all into in his own minibus, and even found time to report the team’s games back to The Bulletin newspaper in Glasgow.
The team, self-selected from a pool of about 30, would turn up one weekend as Glasgow Flyers and another as Ayr Hurricanes, mixing and matching players to make up the teams. This didn’t deter the home fans as it was the man himself who was one of the biggest draws. His lively antics in the nets led to one reporter describing him admiringly as ‘the acrobatic Charlie Huddlestone’.
Every year he also took a select side on a week-long continental tour, playing against clubs in the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere. One of the group, Hall of Famer Marsh Key, was also an admirer of Huddlestone and he recalled that it was not all fun and games.
He said: “I remember an argument with Charlie about our wages that got a bit heated. It was in the dressing room at Wembley’s hallowed Empire Pool and Sports Arena. Bill Crawford lifted him by the throat and shouted ‘I want my money’ and Charlie coolly replied ‘Bill, I have no money – you’ll just have to hit me’.”
He represented Scotland three times between 1947 and 1962. In his first home international at Falkirk, the Scots lost 4-2 to England. Fourteen years later he backstopped them to an 8-6 win at Southampton, only to lose 7-3 next day along the coast in Brighton.
Charlie Huddlestone was born into a Jewish family in Bellwood Street, Glasgow on 17th November 1924, the eldest son of a boot and shoelace merchant, and played junior hockey at the local Crossmyloof rink in the late 1930s. He made his senior debut as a left-catching goalie with the newly-formed Paisley Pirates as a 15-year-old in October 1940.
For the decade after World War Two he was a loyal member of Glasgow Mohawks, which played out of Crossmyloof. When the rink’s directors decided in 1957 to cease promoting the sport – along with most other arenas in Scotland – he realised the only way to get regular games was to take the road south. He kept the show on the road until he hung up his skates in 1965, aged 40.
He ran a guest house in the city’s west end for many years and died in 1998, aged 73.
By David Gordon.
Tony Hand MBE
The glorious career of Tony Hand MBE is unique in the annals of British ice hockey. An exceptional set of skills – soft hands, vision, easy skating stride, strength – enabled the Edinburgh born forward to achieve more than any other player in this country.
From being the first Brit to be drafted by the NHL to receiving the accolade of his fellow players, who voted him the Player of the Century, he set sky-high standards which may never be beaten.
Great Britain’s all-time highest points scorer; league, cup and play-off trophies galore; and the only ice hockey player ever to be awarded the prestigious Member of the British Empire (MBE) medal by HM The Queen for his services to his sport, Tony’s haul of honours is unsurpassed.
When he retired at the end of the 2014-15 season, the tributes didn’t come only from this country. The Hockey News of Toronto devoted a couple of pages to the news with the unblushing headline ‘The Scottish Wayne Gretzky finally hangs up his skates’.
That must have given Hand goose-bumps.
The story recalled the famous quote by the NHL’s Glen Sather, who coached both players, Tony very briefly at an Oilers’ training camp. “Hand,” said Sather, “is the most intelligent player on the ice – bar Gretzky, of course.”
Only 18 at the time (1986), he declined the opportunity to play in North America, preferring to return home to Scotland.
Just as remarkable as his talents was his longevity. To play 34 seasons in a hard, contact sport like ice hockey is rare indeed. How did he do it? Though sturdily built, he was never a particularly physical player himself. Like that other fellow, he usually had a ‘minder’, in the early days his older brother Paul.
Allied to this were his agility and his uncanny knack of being able to see how the play was developing, which usually enabled him to steer clear of trouble.
It was perhaps his laser-like passing that made him the ultimate team player. His linemates, whether British or foreign, invariably enjoyed a career scoring season when TH was setting them up.
The teams he played on won 15 major trophies, and his individual honours include 11 league and 13 club scoring titles. He has six Player of the Year awards and three for Coach of the Year. Though up against imports for much of his career, he was picked for 23 All-Star teams, 19 of them on the first line.
Hand, who made his senior debut with his home town side, Murrayfield Racers, aged just 14, wore Britain’s colours in 11 World Championships and one Olympic Qualifier. He played at the top in Italy in 1994 after being the top scoring Brit on the dual national-dominated team that won promotion a year earlier.
For two years he took on the coaching duties, the highlight of which was another promotion, this time to the final qualifying round of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Though, like all hockey players, he almost always carried niggling injuries, he only once suffered a major one. A broken ankle early in the 2011-12 season when he was already into his 40s, curtailed that year for him and ultimately hastened his decision to retire.
Forgive us if we write some of the figures here again as they are frankly astounding: 1,748 games played, 1,642 goals scored, 2,992 assists, 4,634 points. And this is just in domestic games in the major competitions. We’ve had to omit, for reasons of space, European Cup games, junior GB internationals, Scottish Cups, GB friendlies, and on and on.
Tony may have retired from playing, but he hasn’t left the sport. After spending his last 14 seasons as a player-coach, he’s continuing to pass on his huge knowledge of the game as Head Coach of Ice Hockey UK, the governing body, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of GB’s junior teams.
By Stewart Roberts
Vancouver-born forward Steve Moria arrived here in 1987, initially to play for just six months. But he fell in love with the British game and ended up enjoying an illustrious 25-year career. The first UK team he suited up for was Fife Flyers, but he is best remembered for his ten years with the all-conquering Cardiff Devils, where his number 19 shirt was eventually retired.
A swift skater and deft stickhandler, Moria was recruited in 1989 by John Lawless’s ambitious Devils, who were then in the second tier. He spearheaded their offence as they pipped Medway Bears to the Heineken League, Division One title, and 12 months later he was part of the Devils side that were crowned the league’s Premier Division champions. Steve was the league’s top goal scorer and was named their Player of the Year.
The ‘Mocat’ or simply ‘Mo’, as he was affectionately nicknamed, was one of the three imports that each team was allowed in those days and he scored hats-full of goals and points. In those two seasons with Cardiff alone, he racked up a phenomenal 455 points (219 goals) in only 70 games.
In all, he played 524 official games in the old Wales National Ice Rink between 1988 and 2001, scoring 1,290 points (629 goals and 661 assists). All the totals are Cardiff club records.
After four years topping the Devils’ scoring, he added coaching to his duties with a fresh team, Blackburn Hawks. This didn’t affect his scoring output as he recorded two career-high 200-point-plus seasons in Lancashire before returning south in the autumn of 1993 and pulling on a Swindon Wildcats jersey. There he repeated his Devils’ feats by winning Division One’s scoring race and being voted Player of the Year.
After only one season in Swindon, he returned to Cardiff and in his second year back with the Devils helped them to win the inaugural Superleague crown, followed a year later by the Play-Off trophy.
By this time he had earned himself a great reputation and in 1996 he was selected by GB coach Peter Woods to become part of the national team. He went on to be capped 49 times and was the leading scorer in the 2000 World Championship in Poland.
After six years in the Superleague – the final one with Nottingham Panthers – Moria took over as player-coach of Basingstoke Bison and was in charge during their first year in the Elite League.
He then moved to London, where he was top goal scorer with the Roger Black-owned London Racers before he dropped down to the English Premier League as player-coach of Slough Jets. He guided the Berkshire side to Play-off glory in 2007-08, a season that was also the first of his back-to-back Player of the Year awards when he led his team in scoring yet again.
For the start of the 2009-10 campaign he returned to take charge of the Bison, who had just dropped out of the Elite League. With his wealth of experience the wily centreman built a team from scratch and put the smiles back on the faces of the Bison faithful as they were competitive once more.
Right up to his last game at the age of 51, the fitness fanatic was winning face-offs, killing penalties, steadying the powerplay, working the corners, and buzzing the front of the net – and coaching. He never lost his scoring touch. In his last season (2011-12), he was runner-up in the club’s points scoring, with 66 (27 goals) in 56 games.
Players usually retire for one of three reasons – they’re injured, they can’t compete at a decent level, or they lose their love for the game. Moria’s reason? “Playing 50 games a year is hard,” he said. “If it was a 30-game schedule I could play for another five years, but I can’t sustain playing for 60 minutes anymore.”
Not that many spectators spotted him ‘slowing down’. When he was pointed out to new fans and asked how old they thought he was, they looked puzzled, unable to believe he was any older than the 20-somethings he was playing with.
Before coming to this country, Moria was selected to play in the NHL by New York Rangers and played two campaigns in their American Hockey League farm club. Prior to that, he enjoyed a successful spell in the NCAA with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks where he set more scoring marks.
‘Mocat’ was a finesse athlete who over his career showed himself to be totally professional on and off the ice. He played with passion and displayed immense dedication to the sport he loves, while scoring goals for fun. He is truly one of the all-time greats of British ice hockey’s modern era.
By Graham Merry
▲ This is Moria’s fourth Hall of Fame honour. In 2011 he was inducted into the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks HOF, in honour of his leading the team in goals, assists and points in each of his three seasons, 1982-85. He had been named to their Sports Hall of Fame six years earlier. He is also in the Hockey Hall of Fame organised by the city of Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Selection Committee
The members of the Selection Committee are Andy French, the general secretary of Ice Hockey UK; David Gordon, a sports historian specialising in ice hockey; Jim Graves, a Canadian/Scottish netminder who now runs his Rockies Sports Bar in Belfast with its impressive display of sports memorabilia; Martin Harris, a former ice hockey referee who has published two books on the history of the sport, including The British Ice Hockey Hall Fame (Tempus Publishing, 2007); and Stewart Roberts, the editor and compiler of The Ice Hockey Annual, the sport’s yearbook for 40 years from 1976 to 2016.