Jeremy Cornish proud of his time at Streatham Ice Hockey as head coach tenure ends in play-off defeat
Jeremy Cornish believes he is leaving Streatham Ice Hockey in good hands after his three-year tenure came to a close at the weekend.
The head coach announced his departure from the south London club earlier this month before their 10-4 aggregate defeat to Basingstoke Bison in the National Ice Hockey League play-offs.
That loss was Cornish’s last in charge as he prepares to hand the reigns over to captain Adam Carr, who he reckons can successively make the transition to behind the bench.
“He’s a fantastic leader, he’s vocal when he needs to be and he’s well respected in the dressing room,” Cornish said.
“I think it’s a perfect time for him to step up. He’s at that age where he’s got the experience and he’s got a really good hockey head on him.
“The one thing when I stepped down was ensuring that they were going to have a good replacement and I think he’ll do a fantastic job.
“He’s got everything there after the foundations we’ve laid. He should be able to step right in and add his pieces and his flair to the team.”
We say goodbye and thank you to Head Coach Jeremy Cornish, who stood on the bench for the last time tonight before taking a well earned break. Good luck and thank you Jeremy. #oneNIHL #Cornish #Streatham https://t.co/nz9qEGy335 pic.twitter.com/qvbBBHAFcE
— Streatham Hockey (@StreathamHockey) March 24, 2019
Cornish didn’t get the prolonged swansong he had hoped for in the play-offs as his RedHawks bowed out over two legs to Basingstoke Bison after successive 5-2 defeats.
Goals from Tom Soar and Rupe Quiney were not enough in Hampshire, coming a day after Alex Roberts had twice struck for Streatham in a feisty affair in south London.
By his own admission, Cornish felt his players were not at their best and gave themselves too much to do after losing the first leg on home ice.
But he was full of praise for their efforts and highlighted Basingstoke’s excellent defensive structure as making the task all the more difficult.
Now, Streatham’s off-ice restructuring is coinciding with a comprehensive shift in the NIHL’s composition with a new division created directly below the top-tier Elite League.
The National League will see several of the bigger budget sides like Basingstoke and Swindon return to a league that mirrors the equivalent, but now defunct, English Premier Ice Hockey League that disbanded two years ago.
Streatham will remain in South Division One but will instead be facing teams of a similar budget.
And Cornish, like general manager Graham D’Anger before him, wholeheartedly endorsed the move and thinks Streatham will benefit from playing in a more competitive league.
“I think they’ll do very well in that league with that structure,” the Canadian said.
“It’s the haves and have nots and it’s never going to change, it’s always going to be the same.
“You either have the money and have the backing and you can do what you want or you don’t. It is what it is, we had to suffer because of that. Streatham’s now in a league they need to be in.”
Cornish, who had balanced coaching with his day job as a teacher in Southampton, conceded it will take time to get used to stepping away from the game he loves but that it was the right call for his family.
Reflecting critically on his time in charge, Cornish conceded he would have liked to have added a trophy but insists he had to be realistic operating in a difficult league.
And while his immediate future lies away from the ice, he has not completely ruled out a return to the bench at some stage further down the line.
The ex-forward also hopes to be back at Streatham Ice Area cheering on the club from the stands with his wife and children next season.
“It’s probably going to hit home in a few weeks but I think my time there was good,” Cornish added.
“I think the club was in need of a bit of shake up when I got there, and the owners were fantastic so it was quite easy.
“They kind of let me get on with it and how I’ve left it is hopefully in a better place than when I took it over.
“It was a tough ask with the league and the restructure but it was a challenge we were up for. Would I have liked to have done better? Yes.
“I think we would have, if the league had stayed in the same structure it was before, seen quite a bit of success over the last two years but we were battling with some pretty big teams.”