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Captain Struan signs off

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By Euan Maxwell
Captain Struan signs off

THE Solway Sharks will always hold a special place in Struan Tonnar’s heart.

The 34-year-old’s near two-decade long affiliation with the Dumfries based ice hockey club is full of memories that will last a lifetime.

He has represented his hometown team all over the country in a trophy-laden career.

Some of Struan’s most notable accolades include five NIHL One North Championships — on two of those occasions the team went on to become national champions —‚ and the Grand Slam in 2022/23.

Following the completion of their maiden NIHL season a few weeks ago, Struan, who has captained the Sharks since 2015, has decided the time is right to hang up his skates.

He said: “I would probably have retired last season had the opportunity to play at a higher level not come around.

“But between getting older and not being able to recover like I used to, work, my family and little girl Blaire, I knew it was time to move on.”

The Sharks train three nights a week and play games on a Saturday and Sunday. One of these matches is usually away from home.

A lot of players also hold down full-time jobs alongside the sport.

Struan works at the ice bowl, looking after the sports development side of things, he said: “It’s an absolute graft, but it’s the most enjoyable thing in the world spending countless hours with your friends.

“I have nothing but praise for the boys that commit to giving their all to our club and manage to hold down full time jobs elsewhere at the same time.”

The most recent season has been thrilling. Although the team never made the play-offs, interest in the sport has soared with ice bowl attendances breaking the 1000 mark.

Struan said: “It’s honestly no surprise we have reached the heights we have. It’s the most addictive Saturday night there is in the region.

“I urge more people to give it a go and come and watch, you’ll be hooked.

“We’re a community club and we just want to make the community bigger and give them all something to be proud of.

“The fans really do give a boost to the performance of a team, and I would love to personally thank everyone that has come to watch us play.”

For his most memorable moment in a Sharks jersey, Struan is unable to choose between two stand-outs.

He said: “Either the first league title of the new era in the 2007/08 season or winning the national title last year in Coventry, for the second year in a row, and completing the grand slam.”

Looking to the future, he won’t be a stranger and will still be involved helping to bring through the next generation.

“I’ve always been the club’s biggest fan, that won’t change,” he said. “I will still help out with the junior programme, giving kids their first chance at getting on the ice and playing, that will be my biggest focus for the upcoming months.

“I can’t wait to see what the next set of memories will be for the club. “There will be silverware soon, I would bet my hat on it.”

Struan would like to express thanks to his wife Carolyn, parents Ailsa and Chris, coaches Martin Grubb and Jamie Thomson, and finally to all of his teammates.

He added: “To everyone involved now and in the past with the Sharks, my family, friends, coaches, staff, volunteers and fans, I love you all, and will be forever grateful for the memories.”

BOWING OUT . . . long-serving Solway Sharks captain Struan Tonnar has announced his retirement from ice hockey   Pic: David Yule

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