January 20, 2012

The Get Real Guide to the Nottingham Panthers

Home: NIC (National Ice Center) Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

Founded: 1946

Colours: Gold, Black, White

The Nottingham Panthers are probably the most famous name in English ice hockey. They have completed at the top level English and British Leagues since their inception in 1946 however it has not always been a straightforward affair.

Even going back to the very beginning of ice hockey in Nottingham it almost did not start. The original Ice Stadium in Nottingham was finished in 1939 just in time for a team to be formed in time for the 1939 season only for it to be cancelled due to World War 2. The Panthers though did finally make their debut on 22nd November 1946 beating the Wembley Monarchs.

The Panthers first success came in 1951 when they won the English League title before repeating that in 1954. Following the merger of the English and Scottish leagues in 1954 the Panthers became members of the new British league and went from strength to strength and in the 1955 – 56 season won the Autumn Cup and the league title.

However that league title has so far proven to be the Panthers last league title. This was in part due to the collapse of the British League in 1960 that put the team in hiatus until 1980.

In 1980 the team did return after the relocation of the Sheffield Lancers and took their place in the English League. Then in 1983 the Nottingham Panthers took their place as a major player by being a founder member of the new British League and in 1986 won their first trophy in 30 years by beating the Fife Flyers to lift the Norwich Union Trophy.

Over the next 10 years the Panthers remained a force in the British League and prominent name of it. In 1996 once again the Panthers were at the fore again off the ice by being a founder member of the Superleague. The Superleague removed all wage and import caps and saw massive spending in the sport. However the Panthers could not keep up and in 1997 the team was sold to Neil Black whose tight fiscal policies saved the Panthers but that did not lead to much success. However in 2000 the Panthers moved the short distance from the Ice Stadium to the new National Ice Center.

When the Superleague collapsed in 2003 the Panthers became a founder member of the EIHL. The Elite League era has seen an upsurge in their fortunes winning the Challenge Cup in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2011 as well as the playoff title in 2007 and 2011. However the elusive league title is still missing from the trophy cabinet.

This season has again seen the Nottingham Panthers be a front-runner in the EIHL league table and have made the Challenge Cup Final. However there is little doubt that the title they and their fans really want is the league title. As one fan put it recently for the Nottingham Panthers winning the league title will be like the New York Rangers winning the Stanley Cup in 1994.

League Championships 1950–51, 1953–54, 1955–56
Playoff Championships 1988–89, 2006–07, 2010–11
Autumn Cups 1955–56, 1986–87, 1991–92, 1994–95, 1996–97, 1998–99
Challenge Cups 2003–04, 2007–08, 2009–10, 2010–11

http://www.panthers.co.uk/ - Nottingham Panthers website

http://tcwfanzine.wordpress.com/ - The Cats Whiskers Fans Fanzine

Neil Tucker

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

Follow Up: Bristol Ice Rink (EIHL & EPL)

A few weeks ago it was announced that Bristol Ice Rink will close its doors and be redeveloped into student accommodation and that it still unsure whether a replacement rink will go ahead. There has been started an online petition to Bristol Council and to the central government to show that there is support for a rink.

Bristol is an important rink for ice hockey in the UK houses a successful English National League South side as well development teams of all ages. If this rink was to close it be a round trip of 160 miles in order for the youngsters in those teams to play the sport.

Neil Tucker

The GetRealHockey.Com community is almost ready for launch

We are working hard on updating our image.  The new site www.getrealhockey.com will bring you all the latest NHL, KHL, EIHL, and EPL news. 

The team of bloggers will be the best in the business and we think you will enjoy their takes on all the plays and their profiles of the best players in the business. 

If you think you have what it takes to be part of the team and you can blog, take pictures, or do video interviews; we want to hear from you @ getrealhockey@gmail.com.  We have entered into some very interesting partnerships that provide our bloggers with strong visibility.  HuffingtonPost.ca, Sponvo.com, and Hockey_Community.com are all linked into our site.  Being part of the GetRealHockey team is a natural fit for anyone who wants a career in sports and hockey.

The site will also be the best in the business to offer real NHL VIP experiences.  Fans will be able to log into GetRealHockey.com and find events that are upscale and exclusive involving their favorite on ice heroes. If you are a vendor of NHL experiences like golf tournaments, alumni cruises, or fundraising dinners; please contact us @ getrealhockey@gmail.com

January 16, 2012

Coaching doesn't make a team in the NHL but it certainly helps

Coaching doesn't make a team in the NHL but it certainly helps

At this point in the season; the cream rises to the top and the quality squads sit near the top of the league standings.  The guys who inhabit the bottom of the rankings are too busy talking to reporters and complaining about coaching.  We saw that phenomena front and center last week with the circus in Montreal involving Mr.Cammalleri.  Instead of improving his play; the former winger for the Habs was caught on the record complaining about his ice time which is a direct comment on the Habs' coaching staff.  We are not saying that the former Canadiens star was right or wrong in his assessment but he was 100% wrong in speaking to the media.   The fact remains that if the mouthy sniper was having a better season he would have be playing more minutes and he wouldn't have had  anything to say about coaching. 

Players have been complaining about coaching in Montreal, Anaheim, and Washington this season.  The guys who wear those uniforms have dramatically underperformed for their teams and instead of playing top notch hockey they have chosen to pass the buck on to coaching.  The whining and complaining got so loud in all three cities that the coaches at the start of the year were dumped and guess what ?;  there was little or nominal change.  The truth is, NHL hockey is for professionals of the highest caliber. The NHL is for guys who can motivate themselves and play at the highest level on a daily basis.  

The players for the Habs, Ducks, and Capitals don't seem to realize what coaching is meant to do in the NHL. Coaching helps to win games but it doesn't guarantee victories. If there is no professionalism at the player level the coaching cannot engineer victories from thin air. Coaching bring mentorship and help players focus even through bad spats.  The Bruins and Blues are both great examples of teams which ran into issues this year but overcame them because of solid coaching; help.  The operative word there is help. The players on the Bruins and Blues didn't expect their coaches to get out there and turn things around.  They did it themselves.

Like I said; coaching helps. That's it; that's all. The Hall of Fame is full of great players.  None of them spent their time blaming the coaching staff for loses.  It's time Cammy and others like him snapped out of it; kept their mouths shut and started earning their salaries and improving their reputations.   If they put the puck in the net and keep the +/- in check; they will magically "discover" that coaching is not the issue they think it is.

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UK Weekend Round Up 13th – 15th January 2012 (EIHL and EPL)

The weekend began with the annual playoff announcement from the EIHL. In a change from tradition the playoff weekend will not be contain the Under 19 England – Scotland game but fans will instead be able to go to the end of season awards on the Sunday. There was also a new price, which raised a few eyebrows.

When tickets are released on general sale on March 9th a weekend pass will be £80. That has caused a few moans of disgruntlement around the fan clubs as the price is around £35 more expensive than watching 3 regular season games.

Elite League

On the ice the action got underway on Friday night with two games. Coventry were in Belfast for back to back games with the Giants knowing a win could put them back in the title hunt. It wasn’t to be however as the Giants edged the game thanks in part to Robert Dowd’s 200th Elite League point and Adam Keefe’s empty netter for a 5-3 finish.

Cardiff were also in action as they made the longest trip in British ice hockey to play the Dundee Stars. There was large Devils contingent in attendance however as the Devil’s took control of the game early through Phil Hill and regained it in the second through MacRae and Smith for a comfortable 3 -1 victory to move above the Braehead Clan into 5th place.

Saturday’s EIHL highlight came from Braehead. The Clan’s largest ever crowd were on hand for the sides Challenge Cup semi final against Nottingham. It was to a frustrating night for the Panthers as the former favourite Jade Galbraith took charge of the game giving the clan a 3 – 2 victory and a narrow 1 goal lead going into Sunday’s match up. The game was followed by an incident involving Nottingham player coach Corey Neilsen who accidently shot a puck into the crowd after taking a slapshot following the final hooter.

The other big game was in Belfast as the Blaze and the Giants once again faced each other. It was another tight game that saw 6 goals inside 10 minutes during the first period to send the teams in even at the first intermission. The deadlock was broken in the third as Aaron Clarke beat Peter Hirsch to give the Giants the 2 points. The loss for the Blaze however sums up their season of almost but not quite and it looks like they are now out of the title race.

Cardiff made the trip down the Scottish coast to Fife to play their second game of the weekend. Goals from MacRae, Matzka and Dobben lifting them to another 2 points whilst the night’s final game was in Hull. The Stingrays though took their chances to beat the Capitals in an even battle on the ice if not on the scoreboard.

Sunday’s games saw Cardiff complete their Scottish road trip with another win. The Devils took the 2 points thanks to a Scot Matzka overtime winner. The Capitals will be pleased to get a point out this game but did go 0 for 15 on the powerplay over their 2 games this weekend.

Coventry too were playing their third game of the weekend as they arrived home to face the Hull Stingrays. A third period triple from Owen, Guthrie and Fussey proved to be the difference as the Blaze dominated the game 5 -2.

Meanwhile at the NIC the Panthers hosted the Clan in the second leg of their semi final. Despite the Clan controlling the play for large periods a first period double from Jordan Fox and a second period goal from Benoit Benedict was enough to put the Panthers through to the Challenge Cup Final. The other semi final between the Giants and Devils starts on the 4th February.

With the Giants not in action and the Panthers playing in the Cup it was the Steelers who were looking to make up some ground in the title chase. A brace from Luke Fulgham was enough to lift the Steelers above the Stars who had goaltender Chris Whitley to thank that the score was only 3 -1. That win however does move the Sheffield side 2 points behind the Nottingham Panthers but still with 6 games in hand.

English Premier League

On Saturday night the EPL top two met at Planet Ice in Milton Keynes. The Lightning had crept up the standings using their games in hand but it was the league leaders who came out top by an odd goal in 11 and extend their lead to 5 points. Elsewhere it was a night of big wins.

Slough Jets put 11 past Telford, Swindon scored 7 against Peterborough and the Steeldogs hit the Bracknell Bees for 6. Meanwhile it was a seventh straight win for the Manchester Phoenix at Basingstoke.

On Sunday it was Slough’s turn to get back in the title race as they went to the Spectrum to face the leaders Guildford. It was another tight game for the Flames but this time it was the Jets who game out on top 4 – 3.

Second place also played fourth place as the Phoenix and the Lightning squared off in Manchester. It was the hot form of the Phoenix that proved too much as they made it 8 straight wins and remain unbeaten in 2011. With that victory the defending champion moved to win 6 points of the leaders and perhaps are back in the EPL title race.

Peterborough also recorded a win against the Steeldogs to move a small step closer to the playoffs but they were not helped by Bracknell’s win.

Friday 13th January
Elite League
Coventry Blaze 3 Belfast Giants 5
Cardiff Devils 3 Dundee Stars 1

Saturday 14th January
Elite League
Coventry Blaze 3 Belfast Giants 4
Cardiff Devils 3 Fife Flyers 1
Edinburgh Capitals 0 Hull Stingrays 3

Elite League Challenge Cup
Nottingham Panthers 2 Braehead Clan 3

English Premier League
Manchester Phoenix 5 Basingstoke Bison 0
Guildford Flames 6 Milton Keynes Lightning 5
Telford Tigers 2 Slough Jets 11
Peterborough Phantoms 2 Swindon Wildcats 7
Bracknell Bees 1 Sheffield Steeldogs 6

Sunday 15th January
Elite League
Dundee Stars 1 Sheffield Steelers 3
Hull Stingrays 2 Coventry Blaze 5
Edinburgh Capitals 1 Cardiff Devils 2 (AOT)

Elite League Challenge Cup
Nottingham Panthers 3 (5) Braehead Clan 0 (3)

English Premier League
Milton Keynes Lightning 3 Manchester Phoenix 6
Slough Jets 4 Guildford Flames 3
Swindon Wildcats 2 Bracknell Bees 3
Basingstoke Bison 3 Telford Tigers 1
Sheffield Steeldogs 2 Peterborough Phantoms 5

- Neil Tucker

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