Talks to Peter Collins October 99

My options were Dayton, Tallassee and - Storm," was Jonathan Weaver's comment upon his return to Manchester recently after part one of his North American hockey adventure came to a close. "It was a very enjoyable but intense four weeks and I'd missed my girlfriend and family and needed a break while I considered my options after being released by Grand Rapids," he said: "I wanted to get the views of the Storm guys and of course Kurt, most of them have been through what I'm now going through and I wanted to get as much advice as possible before making a decision."

For the time being though he has decided to stay put, at least until after the World Championship Pool 'A' play offs in Sheffield, where he hopes to be included in the GB team striving to gain a place among the sport's elite. That means he's once more been pulling on a Storm shirt and after making a big impact in his first game, claiming two assists in the 4-0 win over Nottingham in Lower Parliament Street, he has, by his own admission had to overcome a loss of form and a groin strain but now feels he's back to his best A point he proved by netting his first goal since his return in the 4-1 win in Ayr last Saturday, followed by a second goal on his return to the North East when he netted in the 3-2 overtime loss in Whitley Bay against the Riverkings last Sunday night. "I've been surprised how inconsistent the other SuperLeague teams have been. There's only two or three that would stand out - Sheffield and Cardiff - because from what I've seen there's only Storm who have been consistent, although Bracknell seem very intense and London are sneaking up."

One of the things he's noticed about the Storm line-up this season is the amount of guys who can look after themselves compared to the prevous season. "From what I've heard Hurls hasn't had to drop his gloves yet and we've still won a couple of fights, if your tough guy doesn't have to fight and you're still winning then that's a good sign and it's quite handy having a few guys who can fight when they have to. When I was in the Sens' rookie camp there were four or five fights every game! They were all trying to prove a point and all it took was for them to bump into each other and they'd go at it. It was just the fighters, if you weren't a fighter you didn't get involved, although the hitting was no-holds-barred and I learned to take one and give one. In Grand Rapids practices were quite intense, there was full contact, big hits which occasionally developed into scraps, I've only ever seen it happen in England a couple of times, usually where players just haven't liked each other, but not in Manchester. Fortunately I managed to keep out of it!"

While trying to impress the Sens and the Griffins he reckons he avoided being treated as something of an oddball too, afterall do they play hockey in britain? "Yes, I was treated pretty much like any other player even though I was the only Englishman there. The Czech and Russian guys found the language thing a little bit difficult and so did i at times. I had to speak slowly - but that's the way they speak anyway. In Sunderland we all talk pretty fast so I had to get used to that, pronouncing my words properly and not using any slang. Occasionally I had to repeat myself two or three times which got annoying, but on the whole I was treated much like the next guy." Was he disappointed at not having been offered a contract by the IHL side? "Not really, I didn't expect one even though I think I'm good enough to play at that level. Grand Rapids already have several tried and tested guys under contract and with between 10-12 joining them from Ottawa it was always going to be diufficult getting fixed up with them. Overall I think I did pretty well, after all there were kids there from the ECHL who were cut after just a day or so. But I've still got age on my side, I'm 22 and there were guys of 24 at the rookie camp, so I'm okay yet.

If I go back I'll give it a month and see what happens. If everything's okay hockey-wise and I get a feel for the place I'll bring my girlfriend over. It was quite lonely at times in Ottawa and I found it tough to start with because you're okay during the day because you're working hard but at night after you've had your tea I was just too knackered to do anything but sleep. After a couple of weeks it got better and I went out and saw a bit of the town with Erich Goldmann, who went on Storm's pre-season camp to Switzerland, and a couple of the other guys. Everyone is always saying how great it is, well I could play a few years there but not the rest of my career."

"As for the standard of hockey, from the little I saw I reckon there's not much difference between SuperLeague and the IHL. If they came over and faced us on our big ice here in Manchester I'm sure we'd beat them most nights. If we went over there and played them on their smaller ice it would be a lot closer."