Monday, 28 November 2011

On thin ice

Sunday 20th November
Elite Ice Hockey League
Hull Stingrays 3 Fife Flyers 2

So what's the best way to erase the memory of a poor performance on the football field? Why, take yourself off to the ice hockey of course.  And when, thanks to the local school, you're getting a "family ticket" for just a tenner (a saving of £34) then it's even better - especially when you see a home win. 
Often overlooked despite their status as one of Hull’s four professional sports club’s, Hull Stingrays have had something of a chequered history since ice hockey first arrived at the brand new “Hull Ice Arena” back in 1988.

The first club to bring the new sport into the city were named Humberside Seahawks and played in Heineken League Division 2.  I saw them a couple of times that season as Canadian coach Dale Lambert led them to the title (and promotion) in their inaugural season.

The Division 1 crown followed in 1990/91, resulting in promotion to the Premier Division and a place alongside the “household names” of the British game – Durham Wasps, Nottingham Panthers, Whitley Warriors.  Herein the Seahawks became the first seventh-placed club to reach the Wembley Play-Offs before a sponsorship tie-up with British Aerospace prompted change of name to Humberside Hawks.

It has been said that ice hockey in Hull has never captured the imagination of the city’s public since the demise of the Seahawks.  It’s a fact that I never got to see any of their successors – Humberside Hawks, Kingston Hawks or Hull Thunder.  Indeed, when co-owners Mike & Sue Pack were forced to put the club up for sale in August 2010, I appeared destined never to have seen the Hull Stingrays either.

Thankfully, just six days after it appeared that the game would disappear from the city, the Stingrays were bought by the owners of Elite League rivals Coventry Blaze.  Top-flight ice hockey in Hull was assured for another year at least.
And so, taking advantage of the aforementioned deal, Mrs Slush and I, the Elder Slushette and mate Leah rolled up at the ice arena for some Sunday night entertainment.
Can't speak for the others but I found it very entertaining, even if it was into the final minute of the final period before we got the first real fisticuffs of the evening!
All in all I'd guess there were perhaps 6-700 inside the Arena and I'm not sure how that matches up with season's average.  At least all except the dozen or so hardy followers from Fife went home happy courtesy of a 3-2 home win - some highlights of which can be found here on the F Block Blog (we're behind the goal to the left, back row in case you're interested). 
I'd like to think it won't be another ten years before I make my next trip to a "harkey game".


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