Jim Jorgensen #OnFire

Jim Jorgensen returns for his third season with the Blaze, and is very excited that he has been able to bring his dog with him this time!

Having been back in the country for a week Jim seems to have combatted the jetlag. “It didn’t take me long to get back into the routine and it’s nice to settle in.”

Staying with a known team or trying somewhere new is always a difficult decision for a player and their family to have to make, so what was the draw to re-signing for a further two seasons? “I’ve never felt more comfortable for a team ever,” said Jim, “so it was a really easy decision to make. My wife, Alekz, likes it here because she can work here as well. We both like to see the world and hockey gives us that opportunity. We love the country and I love playing hockey, and I’m not ready to be done yet.”

Does Jim see himself sticking around in Coventry for an even longer term? He explained “I’m signed for two more years, so we’ll have a look at the end of that and see where we’re at. We need to see if we are both still enjoying living and working here. I can’t say for certain, but I would like to probably end my career here.”

As we know, players from the USA and Canada enjoy using their time in the UK to travel through Europe, and Jim and his wife are no exception.  “At the end of last season we went to Italy and the Amalfi Coast which we really enjoyed, and we are looking to go to Croatia at the end of this season. We’ve been able to travel to Hungary, Greece and all sorts of places. We love how easy it is to travel Europe because it’s so much easier when you’re based here, and so much shorter travelling times.

And what does his wife Alekz think about living in Coventry? Jim explained “Being here fits well with married life. it’s tough, since we miss our family, but we’ve been able to bring our dog this season, so our own little family is here. It’s a big city, Coventry, but it’s got a small feeling and we like that. Like she says, as long we are together it doesn’t matter where we are. She’s been happy to follow me while I play hockey because she is a photographer so she can do her job while we are travelling. I wouldn’t make her follow me if she didn’t have a career that could move with her. She does weddings, senior high school photos, family shoots. She uses all natural light, and takes photos outside where she can, just using the sun. She had a couple of shoots in the spring before we left and she’ll pick up work again soon.” (http://juniperjamesphotography.com/)

Of course, with no studying or other job to do, there’s a lot of time that needs to be filled away from the rink. “I’m excited to be helping out with the learn to play programme a couple of times a week this season, where the kids come from school as I enjoying working with children. Sometimes it’s tough, but I like teaching the kids how to play hockey and to get them playing. I like to see them making progress. There’s still a lot of free time. I’ve watched every show on Netflix,” he laughed. “I like to take the dog for a walk and play with him. We go on day trips to Stratford and Warwick, and try to keep ourselves busy. There are times when you are bored, but it’s worth it to play hockey and it’s a good problem to have.”

And finally, does Jim see himself settling in Coventry once his playing days are over? “No. My family back home have a beer and wine distributing company, so I’ll probably get into that. My grandpa will never retire, but my Uncles and my dad are looking to retire in the next five or ten years, so it’s time for the next generation to take over. There’s no expectation that I will do it, but they would prefer it was family who took over. I’m also a trained strength coach, so I’d like to work developing kids for college and junior hockey off the ice as well as on the ice. I’ve been offered a straight job doing that at Lake Superior State University a few times, but it doesn’t pay much so I’d have to do other work as well, but it would be good to do something to do with my degree!”

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Of course, we also looked at the old faithful, plants. I’m sure that all special school classes grow plants every year, but the students I was working with had not been credited with their knowledge on our recording system, so off we went again.

Most of them were able to label a simple plant diagram, but struggled with the concept that trees were also plants, I think because we call the stem of a tree a ‘trunk’ and they look quite different!

What do plants need to grow

The experiment involved planting cress seeds in egg boxes (again, low cost equipment that was readily available). Students worked in small groups to plan their experiment, each member of staff having been told where to guide their group in terms of which of heat, light and water would be missing.

A week later and cress seeds and sprouts were removed from dark cupboards, the tops of lockers (sorry caretaker) and the fridge. Some brief discussion how being in the fridge wasn’t a fair test ensued – cold and dark – but students all were able to see that to grow well plants need all three of the above.

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The topic for the second part of the term was materials. We identified objects made from glass, paper, wood, plastic and metal and discussed the properties of these.

One of the downsides of not having a science space is that the equipment which was once there is spread around the school. This meant that what I wanted to use could not be found. Instead, we improvised.

As a class we planned an experiment to test how strong a range of materials were, made predictions and then after we had done the experiment drew bar charts and talked about our results.

For the experiment, we got a range of wet and dry materials, easily accessible from the classroom, and secured them either side of a gap between tables. In the absence of slotted masses (or indeed masses of any kind) we used jenga blocks – they are uniform enough to be able to be used as ‘units’ and for some reason I had an enormous box of them in the classroom. Conceptually, the students were able to see the amount of blocks, and were able to discuss stacking them as opposed to placing them randomly.

Testing materials

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I found this worksheet from @cleverfiend on the TES resources site.


This is quite a short activity, but I wanted to make it longer for my students, to elicit conversations and to check if there were any of the plants or animals which they did not know. There is a picture for each habitat, and one for each plant/animal mentioned.

know what a habitat is

It generated a lot of discussion – and a lot of mess! More able students were able to begin to explain how the plants and animals were adapted to their environments.

(KS3 students, p7-L2)

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#OnFire – Ashley Tait Play off special

Ashley Tait, Blaze Captain and long time player, has lifted the play off trophy with the team no less than three times. The first was in 2002/3 in the BNL against Cardiff Devils, the second time in 2004/5 as part of the Grand Slam season, where Blaze beat Nottingham Panthers in an agonizingly tight game which went into sudden death overtime tied at 1-1. With just over three minutes into extra time, Tait raced in on goal and scored the game winner. Most recently was last season where Blaze beat Sheffield Steelers, the then reigning play off Champions.

Having won the play trophy three times with the Blaze, I asked how it felt to win each time. Tait said, “It’s weird, the first one is  obviously special, and the next one with Coventry, our first in the Elite League era,  was to make it the grand slam, so that was very special.  Last year was pretty unexpected to be fair, we beat the first, fourth and fifth seeds along the way, so it was special but for very different reasons.”

With so many games to play each year, I wondered how well Tait remembered the games leading to the play off title. He said, “Last year I remember well – the Nottingham series in particular. We played really well in the first game there and came back tied at 3-3. I was lucky enough to get a goal in the return game. I remember it was an absolute defensive onslaught, we couldn’t get out of their end but everybody held firm and we came good. I think that win went a long way towards getting us the steel we needed to get through the semis with Belfast which went to penalty shots and the final.”

When it comes to preparation, the play off games have a very different feel to regular league games. It really is a case of winner takes all, with only four games between you and the trophy. Tait explained, “As an individual you have to put it all on the line and leave nothing in the dressing room. It’s all about the bigger picture which is winning. It’s all about your team mates, being willing to go through that wall and pay the price.”

While individual players have their own ways of preparing for the games, the most important thing is that the team is ready for the challenge. First they focus on the two leg quarter final, which is an alien concept to some of the import players.  Tait continued, “As a team the preparation this week will be solely based on a two game series. It’s always a little bit difficult, having the mindset to play two games, because it’s an aggregate score over the two legs.  That’s a foreign concept to a lot of the guys when it’s their first time playing over here. I’ve been involved in two legs where you hold a decent lead going in, and it’s very difficult mentally to go in with a two or three goal lead. It’s just human nature that you know you are in the lead, that you are winning, and it doesn’t help. You’ve got to have the mindset it’s a fresh start and it’s 0-0, regardless of what the actual score the night before was.”

With it being confirmed that we face Sheffield in the quarter finals, how confident are the team that they can lift the play off trophy again? “We always said we didn’t have the start to the year we wanted and it was apparent we weren’t going to challenge for the league title, so plan B was to make sure we get to the play offs,” explained Tait. “Anything can happen from there as we learnt last year! Last year is a great lesson for the guys that we’ve currently got.”

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#OnFire – James Isaacs

James Isaacs arrived from Canada partway through December, initially on a two game trial as injury cover, that was extended for a further two weeks and then, at the start of January was confirmed as staying on for the rest of the season.

The 6’1 d man has dual nationality – his father was born in Epsom, Surrey, before emigrating to Canada as a teenager – and he had prior experience of the Elite League before joining the Blaze, having played a season and a half for the Dundee Stars. During that time, he scored three goals and a further 11 assists, as well as helping them to win the Gardiner Conference title in his first season.

Before joining Stars, Isaacs won a championship at junior level in the British Columbia Intercollegiate League in 2010/11. He turned pro with the Mississippi Surge of the Southern Professional Hockey League and a season and a half later he signed in the ECHL with Idaho Steelheads. He played over 50 games for them before moving on to Greenville Road Warriors for a further twelve games.

As a dual national, it is a little easier for Isaacs to play over here, as he doesn’t require a visa. He explained, ‘I applied for my British passport a few years ago and got that, which made it easier for me to come over here. I’d never lived in Britain before I came to play for Dundee. I came over in grade 7 for a four week school exchange, I’ve backpacked across Europe a couple of times, stopping off in the UK, but I hadn’t stayed here for an extended period of time.’

The decision to join Dundee was a mutual one. ‘I wasn’t having fun with my team in North America, and the timing worked out with Dundee. They had been after me in the summer, but I wasn’t available then. I came over in the January and loved my time in the UK. I came back to Dundee last year and was going to go for a third year there, but the coach, Jeff Hutchins, got fired and things sadly changed, so my contract wasn’t renewed.’

As it seems to go in the small world which is Elite League hockey, it was the relationship with his former coach which helped him secure the initial trial with the Blaze. Isaacs said, ‘Jeff Hutchins helped out a bit. I was stuck for a team for the season, and came over to the UK on a whim. I found a cheap flight to the UK and I was going to go and stay with my girlfriend up in Scotland. I was on the train to Edinburgh when I got a call from the Blaze saying that they wanted me for a couple of games, and it went from there.’

Despite the Blaze management announcing that they are hunting for a forward, they have signed Isaacs as a d man until the end of the season. Isaacs is quick to praise his team mates, but can see that he fits a specific role as well. ‘I think I maybe fit a role that they were looking for that they didn’t quite have on defense,’ he explained. ‘We have a great d core, there are a lot of guys that do different things, and I just came in and tried to be that calming defensive defense man. It just worked out that I came in and we won some games in a row, I’m sure that helped as well. If we’d have lost those games I might not be here. Sometimes it’s all about timing and right now I couldn’t be happier. I like it here in Coventry, the organisation is top notch and I can’t complain at all. I’m looking forward to seeing out the season here.’

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Source: Traps

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