ONE of the biggest characters in British ice hockey has signed up for the Legends Ice Hockey game between Whitley Warriors and Durham Wasps.
Canadian left winger Hilton Ruggles racked-up 104 goals and 103 assists in his first of four seasons with the Warriors, helping them reach the Heineken Championships semi-final at Wembley in 1992.
He quickly established himself as a firm-favourite with the Hillheads faithful.
Ruggles came to Britain in August 1988 after spells in Austria, Germany, Italy and France.
During his 19 seasons in the UK he scored more than 1,000 goals for eight clubs, including Cardiff, Manchester, Coventry and Newcastle as well as Whitley Warriors.
Hilton’s last appearance in maroon and gold was in 2009 when the ENL Warriors took on a Whitley legends select in celebration of Ruggles’ induction to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.
May’s derby day encounter will be his second Warriors versus Wasps legends game, icing in 2008’s game for the Wasps’ 60th anniversary.
Also icing up for the Warriors will be Dave Ross, Terry Ord and Tony Armstrong.
Ross spent ten seasons as a Warrior with another two years on Teesside in the Bombers colours.
His 350-plus senior games attracted an uncompromising 1,300 penalty minutes.
Ord was in the maroon and gold from 1983 to 1997, save for a short spell with Solihull Barons.
Icing in more than 450 games, he recorded over 350 points and accumulated in excess of 1,000 PIMs.
Armstrong actually dressed for both Whitley and Durham in his career but had eight seasons at Hillheads as well as icing with Sunderland Chiefs.
Armstrong racked up almost 300 games in senior hockey across the north east.
The Wasps v Warriors legends game is on Sunday, May 6, at Whitley Bay Ice Rink, face-off 5pm.
Tickets are available from www.legendsicehockey.co.uk/priced at £10 for adults and £5 for concessions.
There is one name that various Durham supporters have been clamouring to see added to the Wasps line-up – and Mario Belanger is returning.
Belanger arrived midway through the 1986-87 season and departed early in the next, but what an impact the French-Canadian made.
Having never had any success on the hallowed Wembley ice, Durham arrived in the 1987 Heineken Championship finals as underdogs and having gone behind against Fife Flyers, another early exit looked set.
That was until Belanger led a tremendous comeback with his fellow Wasps as Durham scored three goals in 54 seconds (two from Belanger) to seal the victory.