Another archive post originally published in Ignite Magazine.
Greg Chambers is currently the third highest points scorer in the Elite League. His role on Coventry Blaze’s ‘Basingstoke line’ is irreplaceable and his passing has been compared to NHL quality by coach Paul Thompson.
Unfortunately, in February we Blaze fans have missed out. Chubbs was out of action for four games due to an ankle sprain. I spoke to Chambers after his first game back, an important 6-4 win over Belfast.
“I skated in warm up and it felt pretty good” he explained. “Then it started getting sore as the game went on. I’ll just keep going through the pain barrier. In this sport there’s going to be injuries, little knocks, stuff that takes a while to heal. Every team goes through it, when one of the guys goes down on our team, it’s followed someone else pretty soon.”
As we speak Chubbs’ ankle is wrapped in ice, but it doesn’t seem to bother him as he talks about his eagerness to get back into the swing of things. “It was just something Thommo’s been talking to me about. He wanted to know even if I could just come back and play a little bit. Play powerplay, and if I could help out the team in any way.”
“It’s very frustrating, you see it a lot different from being up in the stands. You see all the little things you can do and the little things that go wrong but at the end of it you just want to be healthy and get back and help out the team.”
With one goal and one assist, Chambers certainly helped us out with Belfast, despite not being fully fit.
“Belfast being one of the top teams in the league, they were gonna bring it at us and I think everyone responded really well tonight” he said. “Every player contributed. A few more wins and hopefully we’ll win the trophy soon.”
It’s fair to say February was a rocky month for Blaze. The night before our crucial win over Belfast we lost to bottom placed Hull Stingrays. Throughout the year it’s been proven any team really can beat any team but Chubbs didn’t seem too worried.
“There’s been a few games where we’ve played lower teams in the league and the results haven’t gone our way. At the end of the day, you come into the rink on a match day, you come to play hockey so you’ve just got to put that behind you and hopefully get the form back together.”
“You know all year long there’s going to be a little mistake here and there, but you’ve just got to bounce back.”
With a locker room full of guys aiming for the top Greg was confident Blaze’s form will return. But I wanted to know why his line with Owen and Cruikshank, works so well.
“It’s just chemistry from three and a half years together. We’re lucky when Calder went down Brad Cruikshank was available to step in for us right away. It was a move that was great for the team. You know all the little things, you know if someone has the puck, you know where the other guys go to get open. If he’s open we’re just gonna give each other the puck and hopefully it’ll work out for us.”
Since joining the Blaze, Greg has seen his hard work pay off with some great results whereas at Basingstoke it was hard to reap the rewards.
“Being top of the league, I haven’t been there for a long time. It’s definitely a step up. It was a long two years, those last few at Basingstoke. It’s just one of those things where if you settle somewhere for a while you just take the bumps with the bruises.”
Although Thommo narrowly missed bringing Chambers here last season, he didn’t make the same mistake again.
“The deal was done last Christmas time and I just tried to keep it quiet until the end of the year. With all the problems we had with a few of the owners there they pretty much told us it was going to be the last year in the Elite League. Everyone knew there were going to be job opportunities somewhere else for some guys, fortunately I was one of them to come here.”
For Chambers the differences between the two clubs are clear, both on and off the ice.
“The main thing is the organisation. It’s the best organisation in the country to play for. You talk about British ice hockey, one of the team names that comes up is the Coventry Blaze.” He went on to explain what attracted him to the side.
“Over the last ten years they’ve won the most trophies. Everything about them from the guys in the room, to the coaches, the trainers, the management, the owners, everything is just first class here.”
“It’s definitely the place to play in the country and so as long as I’m in the country I’ll try and be with the Coventry Blaze.”
Playing for Blaze this year has allowed Greg to concentrate on what’s happening on the ice rather than worrying what’s happening behind the scenes.
“You come in, you’ve just got to play your game. A few of the other clubs you’ve got to worry about everything, from little things beyond the rink and all that. And there’s nothing you can do about it.”
So close to the end of the season, Greg and the rest of the team only have one thing to worry about now – to make sure it will be Blaze lifting the trophy.