As all the NIHL teams sit on their hands, eagerly awaiting the league meeting towards the end of May to learn the detailed future of the forthcoming competitions, the Raiders are delighted to start the player signing announcements.
Not only did this player have the distinction of being awarded the most “man of the match” beers last season but even in the games in which we were heavily defeated he still managed to receive much acclaim from the opposition team and fans. This despite not playing for the entire season.
We are of course referring to the very welcome return between the pipes of #33 Michael Gray who capped off last season with a richly deserved Players’ Player Of The Year trophy at the annual awards at Pontlands Park Hotel.
Michael played most of his junior career in the Slough organisation where he made his senior debut for Sough Harrier Hawks at 14 years of age. After a spell playing for Chelmsford Under 19s, he moved to play for Romford’s second team (Spitfires) and the Under 19 Buccaneers.
Michael subsequently had a season icing for Streatham Redskins and apart from a brief spell at Invicta Dynamos and a season not icing, Michael has iced for Romford / London Raiders and Romford Spitfires since 2007.
Michael returns for the Gold and Blue and will yet again extend all club net-minding records (netminding minutes; appearances, shots faced; saves) that he currently holds, including the only 0-0 tie in Raiders history. Michael will make his 250th Raiders appearance when he wears the Gold and Blue for the first occasion next Season. This total will be 80 more than the second best appearance record for a netminder (Alan Blyth).
To date Michael has spent 11779 minutes between the pipes for the Raiders, has faced 7358 shots and conceded 748 goals for a 89.83 save percentage.
Last season he signed as cover and when Euan King left in November, Michael stepped up into the starting role, posting a 91.22% save percentage in league games; and 90.33% save percentage in all appearances. These impressive stats will have been just part of the reason he was honoured by his team mates at the recent awards evening.
His regular vocal “encouragement” during matches is just one element of the passion for the game and the team that he regularly displays. It was however a generally more restrained Michael Gray that the Raiders saw last season and undoubtedly one whose performances were peaking even further than we had seen in previous years.
Coach Sean Easton shared the enthusiasm for Michael’s return.
“P head came in late last season on injury cover to start and stepped on the ice like he had never left it. After a while he took over the number 1 spot and through the season he won us games. Michel is great to have in the room, a strong leader and knows what it takes to win. He competes every training and every game give the team a chance to win every night.
Welcome back P Head!