The Bristol Honda Pitbulls are delighted to announce the signing of experienced defenceman Tommy Ralph on a one-year contract.  

The 28-year-old had a short spells with the Invicta Dynamos and the Sheffield Steeldogs last season, featuring just a handful of times for each club.

Born in Hull, Ralph came through the youth setup in Kingston before playing in the ENL/NIHL for the Stingrays, and later Pirates. In 13-14, Ralph stepped up and played 37 games in the Elite League for Hull. Ralph remained in Hull until 2016 before he started a two-year spell with Invicta. Two seasons followed in Basingstoke, the first of which Ralph was named an alternate captain. 

Ralph had other options in the National League, but he’s convinced Bristol is the best place to be. He said, “When I first spoke to Jamie and heard the vision he had for the team it was a big draw. I’ve seen on social media over the past year just how large and loud the crowds are in Bristol, so it looks like an incredible match night experience. I can’t think of a player who wouldn’t want to play in an environment with loud, passionate fans in a new arena.  

“I know how nice of a city Bristol is, one of, if not the most attractive place to be in the league. My brother-in-law is from the city as well, so I have some family ties and can’t wait to spend more time here. 

“Playing in a more senior role is nothing new to me, I was the oldest defenceman on the roster in Basingstoke when I was just 24. The young players signed here in Bristol excite me and I think they have huge ceilings to develop. I’ve played in this division before, as well as the Elite League and I’ll have to try and pass my experience on and be a good influence on the locker room. Jamie also knows he can rely on me to be consistent and steady the ship, being able to play in all situations to make this team successful.” 

Jamie Elson is excited about what Ralph brings to the young roster. He said, “We are really pleased to be adding Tom to our team for the season ahead and to our D core unit that we are building. Bringing in Tom adds so many things to us as a group. He’s still only 28, but he’s an experienced guy, having played 100 Elite League games for Hull and Coventry. Having another guy with Elite League experience will be a great addition. That experience will be huge for us, as we are building an exciting young group and we want to make sure we have a great mix between these players and some more veteran guys. 

“He will bring leadership and I know he will be a vocal guy in the room and help support the guys around him. He was an assistant captain before in Basingstoke so has those leadership qualities. Tom’s also 6’3 and a strong player, he brings some size and presence to our D core and that’s something that we felt we needed to add to what we have already. I think his game will be really well suited to how we want to play at The Pound and the fans will take to him quickly. 

Adam Harding and Sam Smith both played with him at Basingstoke and know him well so there are some familiar faces on the team for him already. Adam really felt he would be a great fit for what we were putting together both on and off ice. I’ve been speaking to him for a few weeks, and I will say that from the first conversation I got a really good feel from Tom. He is excited to get back to hockey as he didn’t play much last season as he focussed on his business in Hull. He’s missed it and really wants to get going again.  

“Talking about Bristol and the team we are putting together, he was really keen to be part of it and understood what his role would be and really got what we are trying to build here. Every conversation it was clear that character and personality wise he was going to be a great fit for us. We are putting together a group that I believe will be a very tight knit group off ice and I feel he will fit straight into that. I’m really looking forward to having Tom on ice with us and getting the chance to work with him.”