Coventry Blaze forward Russell Cowley has confirmed his intention to retire from the game following the current 2016/17 Elite League season.
The 33-year-old, will hang up his skates following a career which began in Swindon before signing a two-way deal with the British National League Blaze back in 2001.
Except for a single season with the Cardiff Devils during 2006/07, Cowley has since been an ever present at the Skydome Arena, completing sixteen seasons with the club and celebrating a testimonial year in 2012.
During that time, the number 17 has lifted a British National League double, the Elite League three times in addition to the Play-offs twice, the Challenge Cup and the Knock-Out Cup – including the Grand Slam in 2004/05.
Come the end of the season he will depart holding the record for most all-time appearances for the organisation (920 + any additional playoff games), the most games of any single player for the Blaze in Elite League competitions (752 +) and second for all-time EIHL competition appearances of any player (802 + for Coventry and Cardiff).
Switching seamlessly between forward and defence over the years, the Blaze Associate Captain currently sits 4th on the all-time Coventry points-scorers list (452 combining BNL and EIHL), which includes 154 goals (5th all-time) and 298 assists (3rd all-time).
In recognition of Russell’s significant achievements for the club, Chairman Andy Buxton is proud to announce that the number 17 jersey will be retired and raised to the Skydome rafters alongside other Blaze greats such as #12 Steve Chartrand, #25 Adam Calder and #26 Dan Carlson.“Russell has been such a great servant to the club,” said Buxton. “It’s going to be strange to see a Blaze team take to the ice without number 17 in the line-up. But, of course there comes a point in every player’s career when they feel the time is right to hang up the skates and Russell can look back on an amazing journey that has seen him win just about everything in the British game. It’s been a privilege for us to have him here for so long and he has been an incredible ambassador for this club and our great sport. We will certainly miss him.
“It goes without saying that we will be taking the opportunity to say a proper thank you and goodbye to Russell early next season.
“Of course, it’s not the end of his playing career quite yet – we still have a few games to go and then he will be lining up for Great Britain against Poland in a few weeks’ time before hopefully helping lead the national team to a gold medal at the World Championships in Belfast. It would be a great way to end a great career – a career that will see him always remembered as one of our greats when we will be retiring his number 17 jersey in tribute to his magnificent service. It’s an honour reserved for the very special few – and Russell undoubtedly falls into that category. He has given his all for both club and country and truly deserves this recognition.”