Paul Blahyj Podcast Interview
In today’s show, the final Podcast of Season 2, I interview former Nottingham Panthers back up net minder Paul Blahyj.
I start the interview by asking a very important question – how does he pronounce his last name of Blahyj?
Paul explains that the name hails from the Ukraine through his grandad, however in the UK Blahyj is pronounced Bly.
Paul spent 12 years learning his trade in the Nottingham junior system, playing for the Tigers, Cougars and Jaguars alongside Ashley Tait, Simon Hunt, Marc Roberts, Marc Twaite and good friend, the late Gary Rippingale.
It was a time when the Nottingham Ice Stadium was really buzzing with quality local talent.
In 1994, Paul’s dreams came true, Panthers head coach, Mike Blaisdell, asked him to become back up goalie.
However his was soon brought back down to earth when he made his debut, he recalls:
We played a friendly at home against the Durham Wasps, seeing my name on the back of a Panthers shirt was a very proud moment for me.
The game ended in a 10 – 10 tie, my dad didn’t go to many games, but he came to this one – it was his first and last game!
Paul also recalls his initiation to the Panthers team, he was stripped naked at the back of the team bus then had to run past the players girlfriends and club directors at the front of the bus to retrieve his clothes!
Benson and Hedges Cup Final
We go on to talk about the 1994 Bensons and Hedges Cup Final victory, 7 – 3 over the Cardiff Devils.
Coach Blaisdell gave him a moment he would never forget, giving him the last 34 seconds of the game.
Again Paul recalls:
It was a sign of the man, Mike didn’t have to do that, he could have just left me on the bench for the experience.
It was a fantastic gesture, one I will be forever grateful for.
The following day, the newly crowned Benson and Hedges Champions had to travel to Cardiff to once again face the Devils.
Although the match finished in a 6-6 tie it would be forever remembered for another reason – a bench clearing brawl that involved every player, including Paul, he recalls:
The benches cleared.
As I jump off the bench I see all these big hairy brutes coming towards me.
Fortunately I grab onto a young Stevie Lyle and agree to stand and watch.
Then a very angry Devils coach, Paul Heavey, shouts over to warn me that if I lay one finger on Stevie
he’ll wrap a stick around my head!
It was a night he will never forget.
After the game the Panthers team had to have a police escort out of Cardiff!
We delve more into that 1994 – 95 season.
We discuss of “that game” in March 1995 when the Sheffield Steelers gained an
8 – 6 victory in Nottingham.
It was a victory that snatched the league championship title from the Panthers grasp.
Bitter disappointment followed and Paul gives his opinion on where the cracks started to show.
Time to quit?
When the season ended Paul Blayhj decided to retire from the game, he’d achieved his dream to play for the Nottingham Panthers, played in a cup final and had experiences that most of us would give our right arm for.
Did he ever regret his decision to retire at just 20 years old, you’ll find the answer by listening to the podcast.
Today’s shout out goes to Phil Burkin who emailed me to say:
Great Podcasts, I’d like to hear more Streatham stuff – I’m a Streatham Redhawks fan.
Thanks for the email Phil, leave it with me, I’m already working on it.
You can also listen to Podcast interviews from Paul’s alumni of former Nottingham Panthers players:
Mark Twaite Episode S1E02
Graham Waghorn Episode S1E06
Randal Weber Episode S1E07
Jamie Leach Episode S1E010
Frankie Killen Episode S1E12
Jimmy Keyes Episode S1E13
Paul Adey Episode S1E16
Fred Perlini Episode S1E20
Craig Melancon Episode S1E21
Gavin Fraser Episode S1E22
Kenny McKie Episode S1E25
Todd Bidner Episode S1E27
Chuck Taylor Episode S1E29
Selmar Odelein Episode S2E01
Steve Carpenter Episode S2E06
Scott O’Connor Episode S3E03
Greg Hadden Episode S4E02
Barry Nieckar Episode S4 E06
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