I got my first taste of it last weekend (not the one just gone, the one before, so much for my contemporaneous writing!) My first exposure to Ice Hockey for the season.
For reason or another, as I have discussed in two previous posts, I have had ice hockey taken from me.
Now for this hockey I am not talking about the all singing, all dancing NHL (we are still having viewing problems over here in merry old England). I am talking about a much grittier hard working British National League - North. Yes that’s right, the 3rd tier of British Ice Hockey.
Now for those of you who are unfamiliar with the British Ice Hockey pyramid (don’t worry the general British public are mostly unaware of this aswell) We have the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) at the top, then down to the British Premier Ice Hockey League, which is a national league, then to the British National League, which is split into Northern and Southern conferences. At this point Scotland has its own thing, but I won’t get into that.
So I took in my local team, the Billingham Stars, an almost brand new team formed by a merger of the Northern Stars and the defunct Billingham Bombers, at their newly refurbished Billingham Forum.
Now I must admit, at times the Forum used to look grim, wooden seats and grotty aging surroundings made it simply depressing. Now, however, I feel that it is a fantastic arena to play hockey in, especially for our local area, and its fantastic to have a team that is a 20 minute drive from my house to shout for, instead of the hour long skirmishes to Newcastle I made sporadically over the last two or three seasons!
What a team to represent them, a barnstorming 4-1 win, from a team made entirely of amateur players from the local area. The level of play is so much higher than I remember and the grit, determination and excitement can still be found in abundance from players and fans, who filled the seats, which is great to see after the team spent so many years away.
Now I hope to go to more, at £7 you can’t knock it. I will have a match report up here after my next game I promise.
If any Brits read this, get down and support your local hockey team! You get everything you want from football; speed, passion, skill, goals, and the added bonus of legal fighting! All for a substantially lower price than a Premiership match! Give it a look!