The Rapid Solicitors Elite League are honoured to announce the naming of the two Conferences after two famous names in British ice hockey history, Carl Erhardt and Charlie Gardiner.
The Erhardt Conference, which will consist of Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers, is named after Carl Erhardt, who captained Great Britain’s ice hockey side to their famous Olympic gold in 1936. The winners will be awarded the Erhardt Trophy.
Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals, Fife Flyers and Hull Stingrays will compete in the Gardiner Conference for the Gardiner Trophy. This is named after Charlie Gardiner – the Edinburgh-born netminder who captained the Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1934.
Gardiner was born on the 31st December 1904 and moved to Canada as a young child. He played seven seasons with Chicago and was nominated to the First All-Star team on three occasions.
With the 1934 victory, Gardiner became the only NHL goaltender to lead his side to a Stanley Cup win – a record that still stands today. Gardiner passed away a few months after the Cup success at the age of 29 on 13th June 1934 from a brain haemorrhage. He became, posthumously, a charter member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1945.
Ted Poulter, nephew of Charlie Gardiner, said: “It is a honour to have a Conference named after Charlie.
“He was born in Edinburgh and emigrated with his family as a child, and made his home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Charlie was very active in several sports and, of course, made his mark in hockey playing with Chicago in the NHL.
“Charlie achieved so much in his short career and it is fantastic that his legacy will live on for years to come.”
Carl Erhardt was born in Beckenham, Kent on 15th February 1897. He captained GB to European and World Championship success, and became the oldest man to win Olympic gold in ice hockey at the age of 39.
After Olympic success, the defenceman retired from playing but spent a period as a referee, as well as becoming lifetime vice-president with the British Ice Hockey Association.
He was elected to the British Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1950 and, after passing away on the 3rd May 1988 at the age of 91, was posthumously elected to the IIHF Hall of Fame in the same year.
Philip Erhardt, son of Carl, said: “It is a great honour that my dad will be remembered in this way. I know he would have been delighted, although he was a very modest man.
“He was a great sportsman and a real team player and always wanted to bring recognition to his fellow team-mates as well, and inspire a new generation of ice hockey players.
“I still fail to understand how my father managed to do all he did. I do know that he upset his secretaries by returning late to his office after training or sports meetings and asking them to re-type letters. No word-processing in those days!”
Tony Smith, Rapid Solicitors Elite League spokesman, added: “It is fantastic that we have been able to recognise two people who have done so much for ice hockey in the UK.
“We are so grateful to the families for giving us their approval for the naming of the Conferences and we think it is the perfect way to honour their memory.”