January 20, 2012

British Ice Hockey League Season Could Be in Jeopardy

The end of the British league season could be thrown into doubt at all levels as Planet Ice was served with a winding up order by HMRC over unpaid taxes. Planet Ice and its parent company the Arena Group are fighting the decision but the action by Revenue and Customs could close the rinks the company operations. This could leave clubs at all levels of British ice hockey homeless before the end of the season.

Planet Ice is the operator for 7 rinks and arenas that currently house hockey clubs at one level or another in British ice hockey. The rinks in Isle of Wight, Basingstoke, Milton Keynes, Cardiff, Gosport, Coventry and Peterborough could all be closed down following a court hearing in February.

It could be a massive blow to British ice hockey and one that would cause chaos to the league season as there would be little hope of housing all the clubs in other rinks to allow them to at least finish the season.

The Arena Group who owners the Planet Ice brand has said however that it is confident that the issue will be cleared up before the case goes to court and that in the meantime all rinks will remain open as normal. However the news is yet another hit for British hockey clubs trying to attract sponsors, investment and new fans as the negative story will hit confidence at an already low time.

Even if the issue is cleared up the negativity around the story will reflect badly on all clubs even those who do not operate out of those rinks under the Planet Ice banner. This because of the stigma these kinds of stories create and will pass on around all rinks in country making it that much harder for any hockey club to win new sponsors and invest at time when it is much need and also when clubs are looking to next season.

Elsewhere it was business as usual for the Cardiff Devils in their Planet Ice ran rink as they hosted the Sheffield Steelers. The Steelers were icing new signing Nick Duff after the defenseman arrived in time to be on the coach to Cardiff. However it was the Devils who took the lead in the first period before a Colt King double sent the game into overtime. It was then left to Jeff Legue with just 11 seconds left in the extra period to send the Steelers home to Sheffield with 2 points. It is also a win that moves Sheffield level on points with Nottingham in second place in the table.

At the Braehead Arena there was another come from behind victory as the Fife Flyers moved level on points with Dundee at the foot of the EIHL table. A brace from Hartmanis backed up with goals from Maxwell and a first goal for new signing Kadic were enough despite Jade Galbraith’s late goal.

Wednesday 18th January
Sheffield Steelers 3 Cardiff Devils 2 (AOT)
Fife Flyers 4 Braehead Clan 3

Neil Tucker

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