View From The Crowd (part 3)

As the Off On A Tangent series of fan reviews draws to a close it’s the turn of Invicta Dynamos under the spotlight. With his team placed second in last years NIHLS1 and crowned play off champions, IDF (Invicta Dynamos Fan) takes us through his thoughts.

He first started watching Invicta when he moved to Medway seven years ago and has been a loyal supporter ever since. Like the two fans in the previous reviews it was the excitement, grit and determination shown throughout the game that attracted him to watching. As he says ‘There is nothing like watching the end to end rushes, ending in a highlight reel goal to get you on your feet’

IDF has chosen the 2008/2009 season as his favourite so far as a hockey fan when the Mo’s were ENIHL Southern and National champions. It was a great team with both talent and character.

As a member of the Mo’s ‘barmy army’ his stand out moment from last season was the playoff final second leg at Chelmsford. Dynamos held an incredible five-goal lead from the first leg but conceded after only seven seconds. Chelmsford were at their brilliant best for most of the game and got the lead down to one goal before Scott Bailey and Callum Fowler scored to take the pressure off in the third period. The feeling of relief when the final buzzer sounded was incredible. The celebrations afterwards were something that this particular Invicta fan will always remember.

In agreement with the previous two reviewers IDF feels the new league set up is lop sided to say the least which he feels is a shame as the previous NIHLS was such a competitive and sustainable league where there were often upsets to expected outcomes. The facts that the ex-EPL teams had no salary caps placed on them and have made little effort to down grade their teams means that the NIHL teams are all going to struggle.

IDF doesn’t think that the new set up is a long-term solution and that one of two things will happen. Either the EPL teams will decide that this league is not good enough for them and break away to form their own league or teams such as Invicta, Streatham and London will get smashed week in, week out and request a drop to NIHL2.

Even though he doesn’t see the league working well IDF believes that the NIHL clubs did the right thing accepting the ex-EPL teams into the league or they would have had nowhere to play and nobody wanted to see them go under. However, he did think that the league chairman could have done more to protect the NIHL teams and put more restrictions in place to prevent the EPL teams spending so much. One of the side effects of the current set up is that the bigger teams have been able to poach the top players from their previous clubs by offering better contracts. All this has a destabilising effect on the new league.

Invicta’s roster seems weaker than last year according to IDF although it’s still early days. The club’s habit of drip-feeding signings is frustrating particularly as it looks like the team has only signed one player so far that has recent EPL experience in Chamberlain. Lots of quick and exciting youngsters have been signed up but the fear is the higher-level players will quickly capitalise on their inexperience. Additional EPL standard players need to form part of the team such as Callum Fowler as this is vital to a successful season.

Although he’s a little disappointed in the level of some of the signings so far, IDF feels that the influence and presence of netminder Damian King will be huge if he can stay fit. Damian was massively instrumental in winning many games last season and kept the team with a fighting chance in many more.

With Callum Fowler yet to be announced, IDF believes he will be a huge loss if he doesn’t sign. He knows the club and despite being a bit feisty he can always bring the fans to their feet and light the lamp.

When I asked about the coaching set up at Invicta, IDF thinks Kevin Parrish gets a raw deal from a lot of fans but he always has the clubs best interests at heart. You can’t like everything a coach does and IDF hates the way signings are revealed but as Parrish is the head coach, it’s done his way. Prone to the occasional melt down the head coach is often criticised by some but IDF accepts that’s just the way it is!

As far as the competition is concerned this season IDF predicts London Raiders will be the Mo’s greatest rivals as they now have Sean Easton as their head coach and will be looking to move forward. They have signed a lot of players from Chelmsford who have winning experience and could even give the EPL teams a run for their money at home. IDF also mentions how much he enjoys the banter with the Raiders fans and in an aside says they probably have the second best social team out there (behind Mo’s of course!)

IDF is refreshing in that he’s looking forward to all the games this season. The NIHL games will be competitive and Dynamos should get a few wins from them but he’s also looking forward to seeing the skill levels of the new teams especially Basingstoke Bison who have a lot of quality and have added to it with ex Mo’s players Elliott Dewey and Ashley Jackson.

As an ardent fan IDF feels that he will support the team no matter what, even if they dropped down a league. He loves travelling to away games with the noisy and team-motivating barmy army and he says nothing will stop that even if the team are getting hammered.

Joking that either ‘staying in the league’ or ‘winning a game’ will be the big challenges for this season IDF thinks staying competitive and keeping the fans entertained will be testing for the club. Trying to not only attract new fans but keeping hold of the some of the casual ones will be hard if the league is as one sided as it looks at the moment.

I asked all three fans what could be done to improve their club or to help meet the challenges of the future. After joking that signing Conor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) would help, IDF said he hopes that the club will be more receptive to fundraising ideas from fans to help move the club forward. He’d also like to see more of a partnership with the two local football teams (Gillingham FC and Maidstone United), which could bring new fans.

In terms of a prediction for the coming season IDF thinks Invicta will struggle to get out from the bottom three alongside Milton Keynes and Cardiff. This is however based on current signings and comparisons with other teams, which could all change with roster space still available. A couple of key additions could make all the difference. Whatever happens you can expect the Invicta Dynamos fans to be noisy and passionate when the season begins.

So as the third and final fan review draws to a close all that remains to say is thank you to IDF for a great interview and good luck to the Invicta Dynamos for the coming season in the new look NIHLS1.

Now, can we have some fixtures please so we can all start planning our winter season?! 🙂

photo credit David Trevallion

 

View From The Crowd (part 2)

In this second part of ‘View From The Crowd’ I’m chatting to SRF (Streatham RedHawks Fan) who has been a loud, proud Streatham supporter for a long time, catching the hockey bug ten years ago when offered tickets to see a Streatham game and then becoming, like so many of us, well and truly captivated.

In reflecting over the past ten years there have been many memorable moments but the most outstanding and enjoyable time SRF can remember was the year Streatham beat Slough in the struggle to avoid relegation. One of the most noteworthy things for SRF was the support from fans, which was unwavering. The Streatham v Slough game was particularly exciting to watch – exactly how it should be.

When I asked what the outstanding memory was from last season for Streatham I was expecting an exceptional goal or a surprising, hard-fought victory but instead felt moved as SRF described the disappointment of seeing Will Sanderson (Streatham’s long serving netminder and fan favourite) being left on the bench week after week, being refused ice time and then finally leaving the club. Seeing a talented goalkeeper sidelined certainly seemed to have a detrimental effect on some fans and even some teammates, which unfortunately made it memorable for all the wrong reasons. It is perhaps a reminder to us all that not every stand-out or memorable moment from a fan perspective is positive and that not everyone will see things from the viewpoint of the coach.

As we all know, the league set up for 2017/18 has put the cat amongst the pigeons and SRF feels that the new league is a challenge too far for the long standing NIHLS clubs and commented that what was a previously successful and competitive league has been destroyed as teams that had worked so hard to remain within it have been forced to leave due to financial reasons.

SRF agrees with those who have commented elsewhere in various blogs and on social media that the league will now be very much split with the ex EPL teams dominating and was surprised that league management did not implement financial controls so the EPL league could run for one season with seven teams. The future of the NIHL in the north and south could then have been debated more thoroughly and had the league put options forward for consultation teams would have had plenty of time to adequately reflect on the consequences and perhaps come to different decisions.

With the new season just a few weeks away SRF is satisfied that Streatham have made some good signings and is really hopeful that the new players gel quickly in pre-season training and the early matches to make it happen for the club.

It will of course be a challenge to follow the game for some initially as time will be lost checking the programme to identify so many new players during play. SRF feels that’s frustrating from a fan perspective, especially for those who like to shout encouragement to their favourites.

With favourite players in mind SRF singles out Joe Allen as key to the squad this season. Not necessarily renowned as a top points scorer Joe is seen as a loyal hard-grafting Streatham player who fans will continue to identify with. He’s ridiculously quick and can cover the entire ice in a flash.

As we all know, every year clubs say goodbye to players, some of whom make a particularly big impact on fans. For Streatham this off-season has seen much change and SRF singled out popular D-man Jack Tarczycki as the player that will be most missed siting his strengths as a great all rounder who is happy to play anywhere, is never afraid to get stuck in and is always happy to chat to the fans after the game. Jack, along with a number of other core players will be sorely missed by the Streatham faithful.

As far as the coaching set up goes, SRF readily agrees that Streatham needed a new face on the bench and very much understands that a coach should be allowed to coach. As a spectator though, SRF struggled with watching a new coach come in part way through the season, bringing many players from the disbanded Wightlink team and then casting aside so many good, long serving players, denying them the chance to shine.

For this, next trickiest of seasons for a club who made a very hard choice in staying in the NIHLS1, SRF says the games against the EPL teams will be the hardest to watch with the potential for some heavy losses and the more competitive and interesting games to see will definitely be those against old rivals Invicta, London and Milton Keynes.

As a long-term fan SRF felt that despite the best efforts of some, last season’s atmosphere down at the rink in SW16 was a little more diluted than previously and for some fans it was a disappointing year with so much change. With the additional challenge of potentially big deficits against the better quality teams this coming season, supporters may look to go elsewhere and SRF feels that could become quite challenging for the club.

Reflecting on this, SRF would like to see more chances for supporters to engage with players at Streatham such as post game photo calls and autograph opportunities, and hopes the club might arrange a meet and greet for the fans before the season starts. This would be especially beneficial to families who don’t go to the pub after games and for everyone to get to know the new players. If flyers advertising events as well as games were distributed regularly to local supermarkets, retail outlets and take-aways it might also help to gain the support of new fans locally.

As the Streatham faithful ready themselves for what is likely to be a difficult season in south London there is still optimism as SRF predicts a realistic sixth place behind the ex EPL teams, remaining thoroughly competitive with the original NIHLS clubs.

A massive thanks to SRF. You know who you are although nobody else does of course. You have managed to be honest and forthright in your comments which you said you found hard to make and although you may feel a little jaded right now I’m sure there will be good times to come.

Finally, good luck to the fans, players and management at Streatham IHC ‘The RedHawks’ for the coming season, stay loud, stay proud and keep the faith.

photo credit Joe Allen by Dave West

View From The Crowd (part 1)

Is it me or does the off-season seem never ending? As we all wait anxiously for fixtures news and for September to arrive, my next three blog posts reflect, together with three long-term NIHL supporters on the changes to the league, newly announced rosters and the future of the NIHL.

Having selected someone from each of the three top teams from last season’s NIHLS1, I’ll be chatting with three avid supporters of Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos and Streatham IHC.

As I promised faithfully not to name them so they could be completely honest in their responses each contributor will be referred to as CCF (Chelmsford), IDF (Invicta) and SRF (Streatham).

In this first post CCF (Chelmsford Chieftains Fan) gives an insight into his view of the Chieftains. I hope he will forgive me for summarizing some of his very thorough answers to fit today’s blog.

So, CCF has been following Chieftains religiously for three years, and sporadically for a couple of years prior to that. Before then he was a fan of the original Manchester Storm for many years and still follows the fortunes of the new Storm in the Elite league now.

CCF tells me he watched his first ice hockey game twenty years ago. In fact he remembers it well as it was the sad day that Princess Diana died. It was such an emotional time but after listening to hours of TV and radio coverage he decided to take a break. On this particular day, pretty much the only event in Greater Manchester that wasn’t cancelled was Manchester Storm’s pre season game against bitter rivals, Sheffield Steelers.

The atmosphere in the arena was electric, the music was pumping and people danced in the aisles during the breaks. Sheffield scored and the away block went nuts. Manchester scored and the roof got lifted clean off the arena! That was it CCF was hooked on hockey.

As is the case with many fans he’s not sure what to make of the new league set up. The established NIHLS teams consider it to be an enforced promotion to EPL, while the former EPL clubs are seeing it as an enforced relegation. Whichever way you look at it, there’s going to be a big gap in NIHL1 between the ex EPL teams with the bigger budgets and the teams already in NIHL1.

Unfortunately, CCF acknowledges, there will be an equally big gap in NIHL2 between the teams already there and the ones who dropped down from NIHL1 including Chelmsford.

CCF feels that perhaps league management should have capped the number of imports in the EPL to two and then enforced compulsory promotion to the EPL for the league champions from each NIHL region, thus bumping the EPL back up to nine teams for 2018/19. An overall NIHL champion from the 2018/19 season could then have been promoted to the EPL taking it back to ten teams.

As for this coming season our avid Chelmsford fan is happy with the team that Chieftains are putting together and has every confidence in Ben Clements who is building a roster with a good mix of youth and experience. With room for one or two further players in the team he’s hoping hard hitting playmaker Bailey Chittock might make a return.

With a new coaching set up at Chelmsford this season CCF feels that although Ben may not have the experience leading the team, his history with the club, his understanding of the strengths and weaknesses in the team and his experience in coaching the junior goalies will prove invaluable.

Reflecting on Chelmsford’s 16/17 season, the stand out club moment for CCF was the team emphatically winning the league and cup double after a shaky start.

On a more personal note that many hockey fans will identify with he also made many new friends in both fans and players last season and was especially flattered to be asked to photograph Danny Hughes at Riverside. Another special moment being when legend David Carr tapped him on the shoulder at Streatham just to say hello leaving him slightly star struck.

The strength in this season’s team, CCF believes, will come in the shape of the Bartlett twins up front who have proved that they are among the best players in the league. In defence, Matt France and Ethan Boolkah will be the ‘go to’ guys with Sonny Phillips building on last season’s success in goal.

As so many Chieftains players moved on CCF found it difficult to single out players who will be missed although imports Huska and Zatopek deserve a mention because of their huge influence on how the team played last season. Some of the younger players from the Warriors set up will also be missed along with Jake Sylvester, who CCF feels is perhaps the biggest loss to the team.

CCF admits that whilst respecting the financial issues the owners faced with staying in NIHLS1, he’s disappointed that the Chieftains won’t be in the race to defend their title against the EPL teams this season. He does think though that dropping down a league and rebuilding should work and the team will come back stronger.

People say that winning all the time gets boring. It doesn’t. Winning by a huge margin gets boring. So, for CCF, he’ll be looking forward to the games that are close, where every battle for the puck and every face off is crucial, where there’s a goal or two in it and it’s worth pulling the goalie in the last couple of minutes to try and tie the scores. We all love watching those nail biting, heart stopping, edge of your seat games don’t we?

As far as challenges go for the club CCF thinks it’s going to be about keeping the fans that were only there because the team was successful in a higher league. If the team is going to return to NIHLS1, it will need the fans to pay the entrance fees to enhance the budget.

Bearing this in mind, CCF would love to see the club do more on social media for supporters like some of their counterparts do. He’d also like to see more fan engagement on match nights such as competitions with signed sticks as prizes, signed shirts or tickets to future games which might help to keep the casual supporters more engaged with the club.

With Chelmsford Chieftains taking their place in NIHLS2 this season CCF singles out Bracknell Hornets as their greatest rivals. Danny Hughes has been building a strong team during the summer and CCF considers they’re going to be hard to beat. He does however remain optimistic, confident even, that Chelmsford will achieve league champion status again.

A great big thank you to CCF for taking the time to chat who has proved that the fan view can be just as interesting as the player or club view.

All that remains for me to say is good luck to Chelmsford Chieftains this season in the new look NIHLS2 and keep those fans happy with plenty of great hockey.

Look out for part two in this series where I chat with one of south London’s long serving Streatham RedHawks fans.

photo credit: Ice Cold Photography

Not A Hockey Post!

So Offonatangent has primarily focused on ice hockey these last few months and because there has been very little to say of late, the blog has remained desert-like, tumbleweed gathering pace as the hockey news has trickled down to pretty much nothing. So much so that The Hockey Forum loyalists have taken to debating things like ‘who likes the national anthem being played at the start of each game’ which has attracted dozens of inane comments as people attempt desperately to keep with the hockey vibe any old how.

Others (including myself) have resorted to debating Love Island elsewhere on social media and whether Chris is too good for Olivia or if Gabby is ‘real’. I for one have been seduced into watching by a bombardment on Twitter by complete strangers of hatred towards Olivia and love towards someone called Camilla who is fast turning into the Lady Di of summer 2017 and Love Island.

So anyhow, thought I’d do a quick piece on what we’ve been up to this summer whilst I procrastinate over the first chapters of my new novel. Thrilling I know and not nearly as interesting as discussing the relevance of the national anthem prior to an ice hockey match, but wanted to credit a hotel, an inn and a small eatery that probably go mostly un-noticed in the great scheme of things.

So first of all there was Cornwall. Beautiful Newquay. Yes those two words actually go together. Known probably more as a stag and hen venue in the south west, the surrounding coastline is actually completely stunning. So for our seventh visit in two years we again stayed at the glorious and aptly named Headland Hotel. With its claim to fame as the setting for the 1990 film of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Witches’, this majestic hotel was completely unknown to us until two years ago. Set aside from the town and situated beside the famous Fistral beach the views are spectacular. Fistral beach in the off season is an absolute joy, particularly for dog walkers who are welcome all year round and as the tide recedes, leaves an enormous expanse of dog friendly sand along which our collie cross Charlie runs with joyous abandon. We call it “Charlie’s Beach’ and he adores it.

P1000154Headland Hotel

The Headland Hotel is properly dog friendly too – no bedrooms are out of bounds so you can treat yourself to a stylishly refurbished top of the range room with a view of Fistral beach without worry. Pooches are permitted in the lounge where you can also choose to eat from a varied menu (including fabulous cocktails) and the staff there appear to actually enjoy working there. On top of the incredible views, great walks, fabulous beach and excellent hotel, there is also a first class spa on site – oh and if you prefer a little more privacy the hotel has a selection of beautifully appointed cottages just next door.

During this last visit, on recommendation from son number 2 who has been living the student life in Newquay for two years, we visited The Beached Lamb. Heralded as a vegan café we feared we would be making positive noises about the food whilst secretly wishing we had stayed at the hotel for afternoon tea. Not so! The Beached Lamb is a little gem. Equally dog friendly as the Headland Hotel, this little café, just outside the main town and five minutes walk from Fistral beach is brilliant. Whilst publicized first and foremost as a vegan café, with lots of vegan choice, I can honestly say they serve the best bacon I think I’ve ever tasted as part of a full English breakfast, which completely surprised. The milkshakes, juices and smoothies are to die for and the breakfast burrito and Jono’s breakfast bap are enough to keep you going back day after day for more – which we did. Our four-legged friend was welcomed back each day by staff who seemed genuinely happy to see him (and us) and the service was first rate. So, as promised this is my shout out to The Beached Lamb, Newquay and if you’re ever that way or passing through and fancy a bit of lunch or a delicious breakfast then I’m not sure you will find better.

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Beached Lamb breakie

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Oreo milkshake at the Beached Lamb

So then finally, once the outline draft for my next novel was almost complete, Cornwall was but a distant memory and the boys were on holiday in Spain, hubby and I decided to venture out to Wiltshire for a day or two with a view to moving that way in the next couple of years. The big plus being that we could strategically place ourselves within easy travelling distance of four, yes FOUR ice rinks for hockey. Now this makes hubby a very happy bunny indeed.

As we were looking to book last minute, we struggled to find anywhere dog friendly and eventually managed to find The George & Dragon in Rowde (just outside Devizes) a gorgeous 16th century inn. Again, mightily dog friendly (the owner having a chocci lab and a grumpy looking but very cute little girl dog) the George & Dragon was a revelation that confirmed my suspicions that in order to find the best place to stay sometimes you just have stumble across it. There is an adorable little terrace out back where we ate a very good, realistically priced meal with a perfectly chilled sauvignon blanc. As darkness fell, the fairy lights came on and the outdoor woodburner was stoked up. Blankets were available for anyone feeling the chill and in the winter they even have a stock of hot water bottles to snuggle with. And once we were pleasantly full and slightly squiffy we bimbled on up to our room which was a lovely characterful beamed room with ensuite and a comfy bed.

Breakfast was perfect and probably the highlight of our stay. Owner Chippy came and had a bit of a chat (lovely guy, really lovely – just one of those people clearly in the right job) and we were treated to a delicious breakfast of fresh from the oven croissants and jam, yogurt and fruit, followed by scrambled eggs and bacon on toast and copious amounts of tea and coffee. Such a treat and the entire experience an unexpectedly lovely one.

So there we go, I’ve whiled away a few minutes with some niff naff and trivia. We’ve had a bit of time away from hockey and some lovely dog friendly experiences along the way. Perfect. Now we just need the hockey season to start please.

Insightful, perfect solution or back in a pickle in no time?

The latest EIHA statement arrived on the social media doormat yesterday morning with a slightly uncomfortable thud.

As expected for NIHLS1 the format for 17/18 is 9 teams.

Basingstoke (3rd in the EPL), Peterborough (4th in the EPL), Swindon (6th in the EPL), Bracknell (9th in the EPL) whom I shall continue to refer to as ex PIHL teams and

Invicta (2nd in NIHLS1), Streatham (3rd in NIHLS1), London (5th in NIHLS1), MK (7th in NIHLS1), Cardiff (promoted to NIHLS1) whom I shall refer to as NIHLS1 teams.

The fate of Chelmsford, Oxford and Solent hangs in the balance but it is expected they will be included into NIHLS2.

So, one of the most significant things here was who stuck their head above the parapet, took a chance and withdrew.

Chelmsford, Oxford and Solent placed 1st, 4th and 6th respectively last season now look likely to be given respite in NIHLS2 with the potential I guess that a knock on NIHLS3 will form. However, any club that remained in NIHLS1 and for whom next season results in last place will not be allowed to drop down.

How one year a team can easily win a league and demote itself but the next year a club can come bottom and be denied that same right is baffling so when the news comes about NIHLS2 let’s hope it all makes perfect sense.

If as expected Chelmsford, Solent and Oxford arrive in NIHLS2 then jumping early will have been rewarded with understanding. For those remaining in NIHLS1 battling on, helping to sustain the new format could result in one of two things for the bottom placed club. Struggle on for another year or fold. How does this make for a workable model?

It has been made clear that the door to NIHLS2 will be firmly locked. It is not however clear what the plan is if one of the four ex PIHL teams were to decide to give Elite hockey a go. Add to that the possibility of one or more lower placed clubs folding this would put the league back where it started – with seven teams, which we are told is unsustainable.

Interestingly a statement issued by London Raiders reveals they are buoyed up and ready for the challenge and were seemingly building towards the PIHL in any case. With a shiny new rink on the horizon and a new coaching structure in place this is a club with high ambitions and a positive outlook on the current situation. So why weren’t they supported in joining the PIHL? Was it simply a step change too far for them at that stage? Perhaps the PIHL could have continued as it was with London Raiders waiting in the wings to be included upon their return to Romford.

Will we see the collapse of NIHLS1 only to find the PIHL resurrected next season with the original 7? Much will depend on how the season plays out in the south and also in the north.

The 2017/18 season may have been better served by a 7 team PIHL with a crossover cup. I’m still not clear why Ken Taggart deemed it unsustainable. Is there clarity and transparency about the reasoning behind this entire restructure for all the clubs affected?

Clubs may have been unhappy with the cross-over cup in the past but if it were a choice between a regular NIHL with separate PIHL and compulsory crossover cup or an integrated NIHL/PIHL I wonder which option clubs would have chosen.

It’s interesting to consider that if the original 7 PIHL clubs had stayed together there would have been 24 competitive games for each club (based on two home and two away) which could have been added to with a cup competition.

As it stands the 4 ex PIHL clubs in the south will now get just 12 competitive games each (when they play each other) with the expectation they will then thrash the NIHLS1 teams in the other 20 games. This hardly seems like an appealing and sustainable standard for anyone.

NIHLS1 teams on the other hand will have 16 competitive games and 16 games where they may suffer significant losses. Which teams are likely to retain their support in those circumstances? Those doing the winning or those on the losing side?

Before I forget, hoorah for the playoffs. 8 of the 9 teams will go through to the playoffs with the 9th team being offered momentary respite from a miserable season before remembering that they aren’t going to be allowed down to NIHL2 anyway. If 1st place plays 8th and 2nd plays 7th etc then how can that ever be a joyous proposition for the NIHLS1 teams when they are more likely to be those placed 5th to 8th?

Fingers crossed there will also be an announcement as to the naming of the new league. Surely those who were to be honoured with their names heading up the conferences won’t be forgotten in the melee.

The knock on effect to NIHLS2 cannot be ignored. With nowhere to go you have to feel for those clubs who have limited resources with players signing pay to play contracts who will suddenly find themselves up against the likes of Chelmsford and Oxford – unless of course NIHLS3 is created.

So the timescale for restructure did not adequately take into account the enormity of the change and it’s impact on the teams at various levels. Conversations should have been happening one-on-one well before the end of the season. The proposals should have been provided prior to the meeting and clubs should have been able to have honest and private dialogue about what would and wouldn’t work,

This post can’t even begin to consider the implications for coaches, players and fans, the financial aspects of this new structure on clubs or indeed what ‘the NIHL1 standard’ mentioned in the EIHA statement actually means. This blog post barely scratches the surface and others will no doubt be better placed to write meaningful and perhaps more upbeat comment.

As an eternal optimist I would love this post to be about how bright the future looks for ice hockey across the various tiers, however it’s hard not to see the downsides at this point. Having said all this, I honestly hope it all comes together and works.

In simplistic terms as posted in a previous blog (EPL vs NIHL or Fruitcake vs Chocolate Fudge Cake) you can’t make a chocolate cake out of fruitcake ingredients. The frocolate cake is upon us folks, step right up and take the taste test.