Opinion Piece: And with the first overall pick, the Manchester Storm select…

And with the first overall pick, the Manchester Storm select…

Perhaps these were not the words you expected to ever hear, especially during a global pandemic. However, on Monday 8th March Ryan Finnerty will be making that very decision.

This article will consider the likely options available ahead of the once in a lifetime EIHL draft.


Ben Bowns:

The perennial British talent finally made his long overdue venture into continental hockey with Grazz 99ers of Austria. A major injury curtailed his chances of making a significant impression on the European stage; however, his steady numbers of 2.90 GAA and .904 SV% could well earn him another opportunity next season.

The dominating numbers produced in the EIHL could well see him selected in the first round, or even with the very first pick.  At 30, Bowns is in the middle of his peak years and if import netminders prove hard to come by expect the demand for this player to dramatically increase.


Robert Farmer:

One of the few players in British hockey history to have donned the colours of both Nottingham and Sheffield. Farmer has plenty of facets to his game that every coach loves and opposition fans hate. His stock has likely risen in the opinion of the four selecting sides, after an impressive spell in Germany with Lausitze Fuchse.

The forward has a knack for scoring big-time goals and his availability will likely spark interest from all four teams. It wouldn’t be a shock to see Farmer go inside two rounds.

Mike Hammond:

The leader in franchise points for the Manchester Storm and arguably one of the most talented forwards in recent EIHL memory. It was not too much of surprise when Hammond left the UK for Germany.

After another productive year, 67 points (18G 49A) in just 48 appearances, the dual national was contracted to one of the top Slovakia franchises. However, after an unsuccessful trail, Hammond headed to Denmark and his since split his time between Odense Bulldogs and Frederikshavn White Hawks producing 23 points in as many games. If Hammond is available, he will go very early in the draft.

Liam Kirk:

Perhaps the most interesting player in the draft, as Kirk would not have expected to be lacing up his skates in this part of the world. However, the NHL draftee has managed to get some match preparation in ahead of the Elite League Series, with Hanhals IF (HockeyEttan, Sweden) and Sheffield Steeldogs (NIHL Cup).

It wasn’t too much of a surprise to see Kirk lighting the lamp with relative ease in the NIHL, in 4 games Kirk found the net on 8 occasions. If you combine his match fitness, NHL training camp and major junior league experience. Liam Kirk will no doubt be selected within the first four picks.

Ben Lake:

The talented dual national is another forward that will most likely be selected very early. Following a hugely impressive 2018-19 EIHL campaign, Lake swapped Coventry for Belfast in order to challenge for some Elite League silverware.

The forwards ability to play at both wing and centre will interest all four clubs involved in the Elite League Series, and Lake is one of the few dual nationals available in this draft that has seen competitive play.

Scott Conway:

A name not too many EIHL fans would have been familiar with until his involvement with Team GB in 2020. The British born dual national has spent the vast majority of his playing career in USA, earning 13 AHL appearances and 47 in the ECHL.

The son of British Hockey Hall of Famer, Kevin Conway, and cousin of Nottingham Panther Brett Perlini. It appears destiny could well bring Conway to the UK for the first time, after a truncated 2020-21 year in the ECHL has seen him split time between Orlando Solar Bears and Allen Americans. Although, it would be a shock to see Conway go first overall, it would not be too much of a surprise to see this talented skater go amongst the household names of the EIHL.

Don’t forget, you can tune in to the #EIHL Draft live Monday 8th March at 7pm via the Elite Leagues official Facebook page. There will also be live updates from the official Manchester Storm Twitter and Facebook pages. You’re not going to want to miss this – Callum Schora

#WeAreStorm | #2021EliteSeries