Last weekend, sixteen year old Jessica Urquhart made history by becoming the first ever female to play for the Nottingham Lions.
Jessica in action against the Barons at the NIC.
With injuries, suspensions and Under-18s fixture clashes biting the Lions hard, head coach Matt Bradbury looked to newly turned sixteen year-olds Tyler Poole and Ilija Kolosnicins for the trip to face Solihull Barons two Sunday's ago and then this weekend, Jessica was added to the mix for a daunting double-header at second-placed Telford Tigers on Saturday and at home to the table-topping Barons on the Sunday, at the National Ice Centre.
The Lions were defeated in both games but gave a fantastic account of themselves, narrowly losing 5-2 and 4-1 respectively and with the team's main focus continuing to be on player development, the future looks very bright indeed for Nottingham.
All three youngsters received a number of shifts over the the course of the weekend and despite being given what could be defined as a baptism of fire against the two sides who have already achieved promotion from NIHL Laidler D2 to Moralee D1, the promising threesome came away with a quality first experience of senior hockey that will have, no doubt, left them eager for more.
Ilija Kolosnicins has also gained valubale senior experince over the past two weeks.
Great Britain Under-18s international Jessica normally ices for the Nottingham Ice Hockey Club's women's team the Nottingham Vipers, as well as the club's Under-16 and Under-18 junior sides but was called up into the male seniors for the first time this weekend and coach Bradbury was keen to sing the praises of all three of the new additions to the Lions camp, saying:
"It was great to call-up Jessica, who's now the first ever female to play for the Lions in the history of the club, she got three or four shifts and worked really hard, her positional sense was good and with her coming in and playing against big strong men, I thought she held her own quite well."
"We had three sixteen year-old kids out there on the ice with two experienced forwards and it proves that it can be done, we're really working hard to try and get the kids the each step-up a level in their game and by giving them that opportunity and getting that experience under their belt, it will pay off in the long term. It's a project and it doesn't happen overnight and if everyone gets on the same page, the future is looking stronger through the whole Nottingham club."
Matt Bradbury on the Lions' bench.
An away trip to North Wales now beckons for the Lions next Sunday (22nd February - 6.45pm face off), as they travel to face the Deeside Dragons at Deeside Leisure Centre, whilst their next home fixture is against Telford Tigers on Sunday 1st March at the NIC. Face off is at 7.30pm and ticket details are available by clicking here.