Streatham Redskins veteran Joe Johnston reveals team is ‘in a pretty good place’ ahead of season opener

Streatham Redskins captain Joe Johnston believes last season’s experiences will put them in good stead for the upcoming season.

The team finished fifth in National Ice Hockey League South Division 1 and reached the league cup final, losing to the Chelmsford Chieftains over two legs.

The side start their campaign at home against Milton Keynes Thunder and the 34-year-old forward believes the team are in good shape ahead of their first game.

The captain is pleased with how the pre-season training has gone, including a 14-2 victory over Lee Valley Lions and the team are in a ‘pretty good place’ going into Saturday’s game.

The Redskins skipper said “Pre-season has been really good. It’s the first time I can remember that we’ve had ice time through the summer.”

This time has been afforded to the team since moving into the new ice rink last season, after spending three playing in Brixton home fixtures.

Streatham have strengthened the squad over the summer signing Brandon Miles and Adam Wood as well as the resigning of former Redskin Louis Lockwood.

Johnston believes it won’t take long for the players to settle into the squad and is looking forward to seeing what they can do in competitive games.

Despite last week’s comprehensive pre-season victory, the squad, including Johnston himself, are not reading too much into it as Saturday’s game will be a different test altogether.

Streatham beat Milton Keynes in the corresponding fixture last season but the captain is not underestimating Saturday’s opponents, who finished bottom of the league last year.

Johnston confirmed he and his team are ‘in a good place’ and are excited to get the new campaign underway.

In relation to the opener, the skipper said: “I am confident we’ll do well. It won’t be an easy game though.”

He added “It’s nice to have the first game at home too and it’ll be a measure to see where we’re at.

“Milton Keynes Thunder are not one of the strongest sides in the division but it will be tough” said the captain on the eve of the game.

Speaking on his role within the side, the Redskins veteran is immensely proud of his role as captain and also the bond shared between the fans and the side.

“Streatham is my team and I’ve only wanted to play for Streatham. I’m very fortunate first and foremost as a Streatham fan to captain the team.”

As a seasoned campaigner for the team, Johnston is keen to pass on his experience to the young players and is hoping that young players within the team will step up this season.

Johnston explained that Streatham have a good mix of youthful talent and experience in the team this season.

However the captain is looking to talented youngsters such as Jack Tarczycki, Callum Best, Steve Fisher and Joe Allen to become more pivotal within the squad this season.

The club itself has been around since 1932, but folded for ten years between 1993 and 2003.

Johnston realises the importance of the fan support, as shown in the first game back after the hiatus.

“It was a last-minute effort to get a team together but loads of fans were there. It was unbelievable” he said, referring to an away match at Gosport in 2003.

“I am extremely biased but we definitely have the best fans in the league. The new players appreciate that straight away.”

After the darker days of when the team folded, Johnston is hoping to use the previous season and the new rink as a springboard to a brighter future.

He added: “Moving into the new rink last year was a big moment and the cup final was good with the big crowds. Hopefully it is a sign of things to come.”

Image courtesy of Streatham Hockey TV via YouTube, with thanks

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