Bristol Pitbulls netminder, Chris Douglas, is to become player-coach for the Bristol Pitbulls second team in NIHL2 for the 2021-22 season.

Douglas first came to the team in 2012 from Oxford, his signing coming just days before the announcement that the old Frogmore Street rink was to close. Like many players, the closure forced him away from Bristol as he sought to keep playing in the higher NIHL1.

However, Douglas returned to the club in 2019, as part of a three-way netminder team. In his nine games that season, he recorded two shut-outs. However, with more than 20 years experience in senior hockey, he also showed the leadership and mentorship skills that made him an obvious candidate to take on the new coaching role.

Douglas said: “I am happy to be a part of the Bristol Pitbulls ice hockey club as coach of the NIHL2 team. Over the years I have been clear to Richie H that, when they moved to the new rink, I wanted to be a part of the club and help where I could. So, when I was asked to work with the NIHL2 team, I was happy to accept.

“I am looking forward to working with the Pitbulls second team and helping to develop the players to get them ready to step up and support the first team.

“I will be working with the coaching group closely so that we can get the best out of the team and ensure that when players are required, they can fit in seamlessly with the NIHL1 squad.”

Douglas has been working hard on building a roster that is due to be announced in the coming days.

He said: “We have a good mixture of experienced players and young fresh talent and we will be icing a competitive team in a very tough league. Our main goal will be to compete in every game and look for a playoff spot.”

Douglas previously coached Cardiff Fire in 2018, an experience that has helped prepare him for his extended role at Bristol.

He said: “Being my second stint coaching, I have learned that having everyone on the same page and pulling together is going to be important. Bristol being one club and having the experience of the coaching team to learn from, as well as full support from the owner, will be instrumental in getting the best out of the squad.

“Lastly, I just want to say a big congratulations to the Hargreaves family for their hard work over the years fighting for, and getting, a new home for Bristol ice hockey. It’s been a long time coming and the city finally has a home that is suitable for the club and it’s down to them.”