March’s Note: I had contributed this article to the new Coventry Blaze fanzine, “Bleed and Blue.” It was first published on their website today but it meant too much to me to not throw it up on my blog. Enjoy.
I live thousands upon thousands of miles away from most of the fans, players and anyone attached to the Elite Ice Hockey League. With my father’s side of the family originating from Southampton, it’s no wonder why I hold the United Kingdom close to my heart.
However, I am as Canadian as they come. I enjoy my Tim Horton’s (except their coffee, disgusting), I’ve definitely taken advantage of my free health care these past couples years, I say “eh” way more often then I should, and it goes without saying that I love my hockey.
When I was in grade school, EIHL player, Sheffield Steeler and most likely Hall of Famer, Jeff Legue was suiting up for our hometown Junior A team, the Cornwall Colts. The city of Cornwall beams with pride whenever someone brings up his name. Many know he plays hockey overseas in Europe but just as many, if not more don’t realize the league he calls home is in the United Kingdom.
I started my blog last year as a way to past the time when I was recovering from surgery. With lots of time on my hands, I decided to become a voice for lesser known leagues around the world. I covered the Australian and New Zealand Ice Hockey League’s with pride and made many new friends and contacts. When the Cornwall River Kings of the LNAH secured Legue’s league rights, he popped onto my radar again after not thinking about him for all those years.
In the fall of 2013, I met through the greatness of Twitter and my blog, Paul Wheeler and Ed Kimberley. These two gentleman are the fine play by play webcasters for your Coventry Blaze. Kimberley urged me to sit back and take in a few games. When I decide to become a fan of a team and throw them into my favourites, I tend to fall back and do some research, looking for what kind of a storied tradition they might have. Upon concluding my “studies”, if you will of each team in the Elite league, I could not leave the legacy, tenacity and toughness of the Coventry Blaze behind. They were built to win from the start; their 4 regular season titles say it all. They reminded me of Canadian hockey.
It’s no secret that I have been battling some health issues over the past little while. I have been diagnosed with Liver Disease and a rare disorder called Sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. Essentially my bile ducts are not big enough for bile to flow through and it’s backing up into my liver. This has left me out of work and in constant unbearable pain and in need of more surgery in a couple months time.
The friends, fans, people associated with the team and league that I’ve met as I’ve been going through this has meant everything to me. The countless messages, support and even gifts I’ve received tell me that the EIHL deserves to be known around the world. I have not met a more passionate fan base than I have of the Elite Ice Hockey League. From here in Canada, I am making it my duty to help spread awareness of both the Coventry Blaze and EIHL as a whole to hockey fans here in Canada and around the world.
From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank each and every one of you. I love my newfound UK hockey family. I will always continue to Bleed Blue.
Ashley aka @MarchHockey