Having announced his recent linemates over the past two weeks, it seems right we should complete the announcement of that line and it is an understatement to say that Raiders are delighted welcome back our captain, 28 year old Aaron Connolly who for his fourth season in Gold and Blue.
Last “season”, Aaron appeared in all 12 Spring Cup matches, scoring five goals and five assists for ten points and fourth place in the scoring ranking. In the last full season, Aaron ended as top scorer with 39 goals, ten more than anyone and 21 assists for 60 points, one ahead of Erik Piatak. His goal scoring included a four goal haul in a overtime defeat away to Sheffield Steeldogs.
In total, Aaron has now made 111 appearances for Raiders in all competitions for 65th place in Raiders all time appearances ranking. In that time he has scored 69 goals and 57 assists for a total of 126 points for 40th pace in overall scoring ranking and 32nd place in goal scoring ranking. But his role is more than points and assist scoring and as a captain he leads by example keeping a cool head, encouraging and advising his team during and between games.
Aaron started his hockey “apprenticeship” in the Invicta junior system and one of his early memories is appearing for the joint Romford / Invicta Under 10 team Thames Terrors, at some time as a netminder according to early photographs. Aaron continued the early stages of his junior career at Invicta, and made his Dynamos debut in 2007 at the age of 13, scoring a goal and four assists in his five appearances.
He moved to the Chelmsford junior organisation in 2008 and in addition to his junior appearances, he made his Chieftains debut the following season. In his three seasons at Chelmsford he made 66 appearances he scored 45 goals and 30 assists for 75 points, winning NIHL South 1 and Cup in 2010. before moving to Slough in mid-season 2010/11
Aaron was selected to represent Great Britain at both Under 18 and Under 20 world Cups, captaining his country at the 2012 championships. In his 14 World Championship games he scored five goals and an assist for 6 points.
At Slough Aaron made 114 appearances for the Jets scoring 32 goals ands 23 assists for 55 points, winning the EPL Play Offs.
After leaving Slough in 2013, Aaron moved to Basingstoke for five seasons with the Bison, the last three as captain, leading the team to EPL League and Play Off winners in 2016/17 ; and NIHL South 1 league and Play off Champions the following season. In addition he was part of the 2013/14 EPL Cup and Play Off winning teams in his first Bison season. In total Aaron iced 275 times for the Bison, scoring 129 goals and 117 assists for 246 points.
Aaron is pleased to be back but feels it is time for the results to start flowing for the Raiders.
“My time here feels like it has gone really quickly, but I think it’s time for us to push on; the core of the team has been together for a long time now and we need to turn that ‘young team with lots of potential’, into results.
“I think the last year and a bit has been hard for everyone in different ways, however getting back to some kind of normality will be great. I can only envisage a carnival type atmosphere for our first game with the Gold and Blue army back in the Sapphire.
“I certainly think the spring cup has helped us, for most of us that will probably be the highest level of hockey we will play in our career. The results weren’t what we was looking for but again just to be involved is a huge achievement.”
For the coming season Aaron is keeping his goals realistic and then see what happens come the end of season.
“Realistically, we need to be aiming to cement our place in the playoffs with a mid-table finish. I think it’s achievable and we all know once you make the playoffs anything is possible. “
Coach Sean Easton has worked with Aaron since his Chelmsford days and knows what to expect from the multi team captain.
“Aaron continues to be a great leader in the room for the Raiders. A great captain and role model leads from the front on the ice and a calm head off it.
“Aaron plays every role; dependable in the defensive zone, speedy and gritty going forward and regularly on the score sheet.
“He is a player that any team wants and we are lucky to be the team that has him.“
Welcome back #63 Captain Aaron Connolly.