Hockey Article 3

So we come to the latter stages of the Elite League season where the three arena teams will be dominating in relation to all 3 trophies up for grabs.

Surely after the last three years fans are starting to see how predictable the Elite League can be with the arena teams having the final say. It’s great to see the NIC at Nottingham full for Panthers home games and it just shows the Panthers organisation have got it right and are a very stable business. This business is the strongest in the league by far and I still cannot understand how my former club cannot even be in the running for the league title with several games left to play. It has been, over the last 3 seasons, the best supported and most financially sound team with one of the larger budgets and with the best British players in the league.

It’s great to see the young British players really making their mark on the league for there respective clubs, Robbie Farmer, Robbie Lachowicz and Robert Dowd, they have been given the chance over the last 3 years and look where they are now. They are contributing every night and producing great stats. These young guys was playing ENL and EPL a few years ago. Wouldn’t it be great if the league had a policy that each team had to have 5 under 21 British players registered on their books that were fully insured? Looking at the long term stability of each clubs development. these British guys are the bread and butter of the sport in this country and need to be given the chance now.

I like the fact that the owner of the Devils, Paul Ragan, has not tried to keep up with the large arena clubs this season by over spending on imports and has stuck to a budget thats sensible for the club This will have gained respect in the community and league and it will give the Devils a sound business name for the years to come.

The Scottish clubs attendance has risen a little compared to previous years, although there’s two clubs that wont make the playoffs it’s still great to see that financially they will continue to build as hockey clubs. It is not a quick fix, its got to be a long term plan and it has to be stuck to. All four Scottish clubs should be proud of the fact they are competing against a lot bigger budgets across the league but are introducing local British players in numbers.

I’ve not witnessed it myself but I have heard there are a few younger linesman being introduced into the league. This is also a massive step forward  for these guys, they have to start somewhere and the experience they gain this year will stand them in good stead for next year and give the sport a long term gain in linesman. Hopefully some of these can turn into top referees in the Elite League as the likes of Carson and Hanson cannot go on forever.  When they have gone we will all realise how much they actually did for our sport, love them or hate them they’ve been a massive asset to the sport and should not be forgotten. Without refs and linesman there is no hockey

The charity events happening around the country in hockey circles are fabulous. There is the 4 on 4 in Nottingham and the UK Fall Stars in Cardiff later on in the summer. These guys deserve a massive pat on the back  not just for raising money for great causes but also for giving up their time and effort for a sport they love and for giving the sport a great name. Also the guys out there that do the match reports like TCW and certain forums who offer fans as much information as possible at no cost save for their free time and because they love the sport should be applauded. The fans should be very grateful for this and support these guys in numbers, it’s great to see.

There was one player who tested positive for drugs. Lets hope this is not the tip of the iceberg. You cannot hide problems like this, they will only stay hidden for a short time and then come out and hurt the sport, lets be open and honest and resolve the issues and move forward quickly.

I must mention the fact that love him or hate him Mr Westerdale at the Star in Sheffield should be thanked for breaking the news about the positive drugs test. This is what the sport needs to move forward in my opinion, so don’t knock the facts, they are there for us to read and for us to act upon. I just wish every club had a reporter to print the truth of what’s happening as that’s what fans want to read, not excuses or stuff that we hear time and time again.

Looking at the EPL its great to see so many clubs doing so well, we never hear about these clubs struggling financially, the league is strong and the league have plenty of British players with a handful of quality imports. It just goes to show it can work with only a limited number of imports. This league for me is what British ice hockey is all about, at the end of the day fans want to be entertained, win or lose, as long as they see their team give 100% and battle every night they’re going home happy. Looking at the tight scores recently it shows how close the league is  with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 teams.

Since my last article regarding refs and players being targeted by abuse on social networking sites like twitter and facebook it seems to have stopped. This is again great to see as from the outside looking in such abuse is the last thing which will attract a possible sponsor for the sport.

ENL 1 north and south again are producing some great British talent. Maybe if there was one or two scouts out there that could give up some time to watch these guys in action, giving them a possible chance of taking that step into the Elite League, then that would be great for the sport and give the media something exciting to print. What would be better than a young British guy called up from a team in a league 2 tiers below the Elite league coming on to score a game wining goal for a club at the top level?

Now onto sky sports, the ratings of only 3000 watching each show is awful and it is really doing nothing for the sport at all. Why don’t the Elite League and the sport in this country target the BBC or channel 4 or 5 for example? The current ratings are very low, it may be a great show for some but really lets try getting in touch with another TV channel who may be willing to get our sport on prime time or who are at least willing to give us a little more than sky are doing. One day the league will employ a guy to promote it, to go get a major league sponsor so the sport can be recognised. We are coming up to the Olympics, surely we should be forward thinking about this and act now, not wait till the opportunity has gone.

Last one is well done Stevie Lyle on getting his testimonial this year. He’s been a stalwart of the British game for over a decade at the highest level and a Devil through and through. He has been a guy thats been an ambassador for ice hockey in Great Britain, representing the national team for many years and I hope his night is a massive success.

Marc Twaite

Author: Smurf

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