Canadian Mike Urquhart was a loyal servant of the British game as a player, coach or manager at club and national level for over two decades.
Arriving in Britain for the 1983-84 season, he spent three winters on defence with Nottingham Panthers, later taking on the roles of captain and player-coach.
He had not been here long before he realised that the huge spate of rink building in the 1980s presented many opportunities and, in addition to playing, he decided to use his mentoring talents to coach and develop British players.
The 1986-87 season was a memorable one for him as he split the season between two new teams, Ken Taggart’s Oxford City Stars and John Lawless’s Cardiff Devils. He helped the latter win the Division Two (Midlands) title with 51 points (22 goals) in seven league games, and at Oxford he met his future wife, Laura, who was playing for the men’s B team.
His first management position was at the new Chelmsford rink, where his assistant’s duties included coaching the Chieftains in Division Two and setting up a junior development system.
He not only put together a talented Chieftains squad, which included his fellow countryman Robin Andrew and Brit Phil Adams, he also top-scored with 100 points (50 goals) in 26 games. The team finished as league runners-up in his first season and won the Autumn Trophy in 1990-91.
Urquhart spent four seasons with ‘the Tribe’, recording 255 points (119 goals), good enough for tenth place on the team’s all-time scoring list. As coach, he won a club record 164 games.
Always ready for another challenge, he took the opportunity to revive the fortunes of flagging Scottish side, Livingston Kings, in season 1991-92, leading them from last to first in the Scottish League.
Barry Dow, the American owner of the new Guildford Flames, asked him to organise ice hockey at the £30 million Spectrum the following year. Despite having to play at Slough until the rink opened in January 1993, the Flames lost only six of 32 games on their way to winning the English League’s ‘B’ conference and effective promotion into Division One of the British League.
After a year in the stronger league, Mike switched to Bracknell Bees and Milton Keynes Kings for the next two seasons. He iced in over 40 Kings’ games and was voted their Most Sportsmanlike Player before hanging up his skates to concentrate on coaching the national junior squads.
Internationally, he won two gold medals as part of the coaching staff of six World Championship junior teams. After the under-18s won Pool C of the 1997 World Junior Championships, he was promoted to joint head coach with Daryl Easson a year later.
In four successive tournaments in the mid-2000s he worked closely with future GB senior men’s coach Pete Russell. In his two stints as head coach, Urquhart took the under-18s to the top of Division IIB in 2004, and two years later he guided the under-20s to third in Division IB.
His interest in the women’s game – encouraged by Laura, a long-time GB women’s forward – began at Chelmsford when he persuaded the rink to host the first women’s international in this country when GB played the Netherlands in March 1989.
His hockey life came full circle when he returned to Nottingham as the head coach of the National Ice Centre. The organisation was recognised by the English Ice Hockey Association in 2005 as the best organised junior club in the region.
Michael Urquhart was born on 9 April 1958 in Toronto, Canada. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.