The Manchester Phoenix were originally apart of the EIHL before moving over to the EPIHL. Matt Freedman is a die hard Phoenix fan who volunteers his time on game nights and tries his best to promote the game of hockey and recruit new fans.
March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?
Matt Freedman: I live in Manchester and got in to hockey as a result of playing hockey games on my old mega-drive (we all know which game I mean!). I decided I had to see this sport and went down to the old ice rink with my brother to watch the Trafford Metros, who were in the BD1 league back in 1993. I was blown away by the whole thing, and became hooked instantly. I fell out of love with the sport when the team became the Manchester Storm and moved to the arena. This may sound strange but I’d got so used to being really close to the action, and being around people who knew their hockey. The Storm just didn’t feel that way and I stopped going regularly.
MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Manchester Phoenix?
MF: The same as makes any fan passionate I think. It’s a great sport played by proper sportsmen who know how to behave off the ice. The club has a great fan base, management team, product and atmosphere and I look forward to each game of the season like a kid on Christmas Eve! I volunteer on match nights and try to make the match night a great experience for all the newbies. It’s very satisfying to see a family come down time after time when you were part of their first game night.
MH: Who is the one player that really stands out on the team and why?
MF: So many names spring to mind, but I’m going to keep this British! I like James Archer’s style of play and his power and versatility. Ciaron Long was always great to watch with his great hands and constant grin…. But, I’m going to have to go for Luke Boothroyd who year in year out, is the absolute core of our defence.
MH: How does the EPIHL do in terms of fan interaction?
MF: Probably far better than most other leagues around the world. Our imports are usually stunned that we all interact at club functions, and this is something that the Phoenix have always done very well. I would recommend these club events to all, as we get a great opportunity to get to know our players.
MH: If there’s one thing you could change about the league what would it be?
MF: Controversy awaits! I believe that the league has got stronger every year that I’ve been a fan, and the EPIHL really us going from strength to strength. The refereeing however, has not improved. I don’t envy the guys who do it and I’d certainly rather it was them than me, but something needs to be done to improve it.
MH: How do you think Manchester’s upcoming season will turn out?
MF: Pretty good I think. It was sensational to win the playoffs last season and I was fortunate enough to be there, so I’d like us to defend that crown. I predict that we will finish in the top two this season, which will be a great achievement given what we’ve seen of other signings around the league. I also predict a strong cup run, which will see us make the final.
If you’re a passionate hockey fan and would like to feature your team or league on March Hockey’s Fan Voice, I want to hear from you! Find me on twitter @MarchHockey, or send me a message on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey