All of us at Y Ddraig would like to thank Josh for taking time out to answer some questions for us and for the Cardiff Fire supporters.
Josh started playing Hockey at the age of 7 after being asked to try out for the under 10’s team when he was spotted skating in the old Cardiff Ice rink. From there he continued playing, always playing in age groups above his own. He also played for South West conference teams from Under 11’s to Under 18’s and during this time was also picked for England at Under 15’s to tour Italy. When he was only 16 years old he started playing Semi-professional in the English National League (ENL) Division 1 and 2 with the Cardiff Devils. At 17 he went full time with the Devils and stayed in Cardiff to study, then two years ago he took the decision to join the Cardiff Fire, where he has become a mainstay and very valuable member of the team.
We asked Josh the questions below:-
1. Have you always worn the number 92 jersey and is there any reason behind it?
Answer:- Coming through the Cardiff Devils junior set up I always wore the number 12, however when stepping up to ENL 2 that number was taken. The coaches then, Lyndon Pezzack and Chris Jones handed me a game jersey with 29 on it. As a hockey player you just know when a number doesn’t feel right. Lyndon and CJ suggested swapping the numbers around and well, the rest is history.
2. I suppose for you, you have gone full circle. After taking a step down to NIHL 2 to join the Cardiff Fire team, you are now back in the second tier of British Ice Hockey. How does that feel?
Answer:- It feels great to be playing in the second tier of British hockey. The joining of NIHL and EPL teams has set a higher standard of hockey for myself throughout this season. Stepping down to division 2 with the Fire suited me well as I could concentrate on my university studies and continue to play. But being back is where I feel I need to be to continue my personal development within the game. Playing against ex elite league and import players who continue to show quality and class in their game is also beneficial; It adds knowledge and understanding to aid my progression.
3. You have been involved in most of the games this season. How frustrating is it being on the receiving end of some heavy defeats? Also, have you seen progress, and do you believe that before the end of the season, you will find the key to being more competitive at this level?
Answer:- We knew as a team coming into this league it was always going to be tough. Being on the receiving end of numerous losses combined with big scores put a lot of stress on us as a team. I feel we would go into games with the subconscious thought that we have already lost the game and are we able to compete? This just added more unwanted pressure.
However, over the past couple of weeks we are totally the opposite . Our new players have fitted in well, we are finally coming together as a unit and seeing progression on and off the ice. Despite continued losses, we probably had our best performance of the season against Streatham, and have flourished from there. Even against the big EPL teams, we are showing our complete level and have the ability to keep the score tight, which just gives us the confidence in knowing our win is going to come sooner than we think. I believe in the boys and coaches. If we continue moving forward with the right character like we have, we will finish the season way stronger than we started it.
4. What has been your greatest achievement in Ice Hockey?
Answer:- My greatest achievements in hockey are being selected to represent the South West conference teams from ages u11-u18 and also representing England at u15 level. During previous seasons, big wins against rival teams always stand out for that “feel good factor” and being given the opportunity as a 16 year old to start my hockey career at this level.
5. What has been your proudest moment in Ice Hockey?
Answer:- There is quite a few moments to think of but more recently it would be winning the league two years in a row with the Fire. The team atmosphere and the bunch of beauties we had was unreal. I couldn’t of asked to win the league twice with anyone else.
6. Do you play any other sports?, if so, which ones?
Answer:- I enjoy playing any sport, and have always been a sporty person. I played rugby alongside hockey growing up but then stopped when I stepped up to the old ENL. Also, during my time at university I played lacrosse for the University of South Wales 1st team, where we managed to successfully win our BUCS league two years of the three. What a brutal sport. Love it.
7. Do you have any regrets from your Ice Hockey career so far?
Answer:- I don’t really have any regrets with regards to ice hockey. However, I suppose the one “what if” I have, would be turning down the opportunity to play in Germany and develop in a junior set up at 14 years old. But then, if I had gone I don’t think I would have been so successful within my studies/work and have accomplished outside of the sport what I have.
8. Do you have a nick name that is used by your team mates?
Answer:- A lot of the boys I’ve played alongside the past years call me Hazledazzle, haha. No idea why, maybe it’s because I can tear up a dance floor but they may have other reasons, who’s to know! Any other time it’s Haz or the good old Josh.
9. Would you like to go into coaching some day?
Answer:- Yes, definitely. I have done a lot of work coaching multi sport and coordinating sport for different national governing bodies where myself and my colleagues created new initiatives to increase participation and retention rates. So when I get more time in the future I would like to transition that experience into ice hockey coaching.
10. Who are your favourite NHL team and favourite player?
Answer:- Surprisingly I don’t have a favourite NHL team, until it comes to the sweepstake for the Stanley Cup haha. My favourite NHL player to watch since he made the move to Pittsburg is Phil Kessel. He loves food as much as me, but he does the little things right. Plays simple smart hockey and always seems to find the net.
11. Who are your favourite Elite league team and favourite player?
Answer:- Obviously being a Welshy it would have to be the Cardiff Devils. Favourite player, that’s a tough one – get back to me on that haha.
Many thanks again go to Josh Haslam for answering our questions.
You can follow Josh on twitter @JoshHaslam92
All picture credits for the article – Oliver Hampson. Thanks Oliver for providing these pictures.