One on One with Liam McCausland of Frozen Steel Blog

1524774_1443356489210314_1080098070_nRecently Liam McCausland of the unofficial Sheffield Steelers fan blog, Frozen Steel, and I had an interesting back and forth chat on everybody’s favourite subject. You can find my responses during the first part of our conversation on his blog here. The second part of our chat is as follows. Have a gander into the mind of Liam’s hockey filled brain.

March Hockey: Well let’s start with how you got into hockey.

Liam McCausland: Pre-teen insomnia. Around the age of 11/12, I barely ever slept, and Channel 5 (one of the basic channels we get free over here) showed a live NHL game once a week. I could never keep up with the puck but I loved what I saw. When it stopped showing it I kind of forgot about the game, but I started seeing a girl at university in 2008 who was a season ticket holder at the Steelers. She took me to an away game in Newcastle and I was hooked again.

MH: That was my second question, why the Steelers?

LM: Yeah, her influence. We stopped seeing each other but stayed in the same circles so I kept going to games. I don’t think I’ve been to more than 10 games in one season if that, but its under my skin and such a big part of my life now.

1662073_1485069311705698_1875499983_nMH: What do you think the Steelers need to do in order to repeat this year’s success?

LM: That’s pretty tricky, because up until the end of February we were talking about the team not being good enough. Enter Gerad Adams and we win the playoffs! I think we had the core of a good side that needed focussing and liberating. If we could keep most of that team together that would be half the battle. replace some offence we have lost in Lacroix and potentially Legue. A bit more team toughness too maybe. Oh, and a backup that the coach trusts, so Frank Doyle can have a rest.

MH:  Tricky question, what improvements do you think Team GB need to make?

LM: Oh god, so much. More time together pre-tournament would go a long way, a week together beforehand doesn’t seem enough. There’s calls for lowering the import limit, but then if the GB players aren’t up to task it might lead to a decline in attendances that owners wouldn’t go for. I’d say some investment from those able would go a long way, but Sport England don’t invest in things that don’t guarantee them medals either. I’d quite like to see a British Quota. Say so many of the team have to be british, say 1 nettie, 3 D, 5 forwards. make that a minimum. I’d started writing an article on it but I rambled for that long it sounded like a rant. Continue reading “One on One with Liam McCausland of Frozen Steel Blog”

Fan Voice: Daniella West and the Guildford Flames, Guildford Lightning Women’s Team

Daniella West. (Twitter: @daniellawest)
Daniella West. (Twitter: @daniellawest)

Daniella West is a passionate fan of Guildford hockey. She supports both the men’s EPIHL team in the Flames and the Lightning, the Guildford women’s team. As the first person to give me a perspective on what women’s hockey is like outside of the Canadian and American national teams, I was eager to listen to what she had to say.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Daniella West: I am just outside Woking in  the United Kingdom. Where I live is just a few minutes drive from my local ice rink. I got into it by games being advertised on my local radio station, 96.4 Eagle Radio.
MH: What makes you a passionate fan of both the Guildford Flames and Guildford Lightning?
LogoGuildfordFlamesDW: I started watching the Flames in 2006 and then I heard about the Lightning about 2 and a half years ago after talking to someone who used to play for them. I support them all the time and like to know how they are doing when playing away from home.
MH:  Who’s one player on the Flames to look out for and why?
DW: There’s a lot of good players on the team to choose from but I will go for captain David Longstaff as he is just as good as a non-British trained player. Plus he’s the only player to play for the Great Britain national team over 100 times.

Continue reading “Fan Voice: Daniella West and the Guildford Flames, Guildford Lightning Women’s Team”

Fan Voice: Rudi Harrison and a brief look at the Sheffield Steelers

Drew Fata with Rudi (right) and her sister. (Twitter: @icehockey_gurl)
Drew Fata with Rudi (right) and her sister. (Twitter: @icehockey_gurl)

Rudi Harrison is one of the many young faithful followers of the Sheffield Steelers and she gives me a brief look at why she loves the game of hockey.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Rudi Harrison:  England. I’ve always been a huge fan of hockey but never had the chance to go to a game till 2007 at Sheffield Arena. I fell in love with the sport!MH:What makes you a passionate fan of the Sheffield Steelers?

RH: The strength of the players and the team. They are always positive, and in my eyes one of the best teams in the EIHL.

MH: Who is one player to look for on the team and why?

bust-brokeRH: Drew Fata.  Not only is he a good defenseman, he is a great fighter which makes the game a lot tougher!

MH: Do the Steelers do enough to keep fans interacted with the game?

RH: Yes!

MH::  Who is your favourite hockey player of all time?

RH: Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara for sure!

MH: What would be your dream hockey game? Which two teams would
play?

RH: A game between two rivals, so there’d be alot more fights and a lot more shots and goals keeping the fans on the edge of their seats. Probably the Bruins against the Steelers, now that would be an amazing game!

If you’re a passionate hockey fan who would like to feature your team or league, I want to hear from YOU! Find me on twitter @MarchHockey or drop me a line on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey

Fan Voice: Captain Oshawa and the Oshawa Generals

Captain Oshawa is a die hard Oshawa Generals fan who can be seen through out each and every home game cheering them on. He even has own cape for pete sakes! He’s the superhero the Generals need!

(Twitter: @CaptainOshawa)
(Twitter: @CaptainOshawa)

March Hockey:  Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Captain Oshawa: I was born and raised in Oshawa Ontario and got into hockey from playing road hockey like a lot of Canadian kids.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Oshawa Generals?

CO: Oshawa being my hometown . I have a lot of pride for my Gens with all the great players and the history behind the team.

MH: What is your favourite Generals moment?

CO: My favourite Gens moment is when a Gens player gets drafted to the NHL. It’s bringing them close to their dream.

MH: Who is one player to look out for on the team and why?

Dal Colle. (Photo: oshawagenerals.com)
Dal Colle. (Photo: oshawagenerals.com)

CO: I’ve got 2 . Micheal Dal Colle is a very talented special player. Also Bradley LaTour  I think will have a great year. He is gritty but will pop in some goals as well.

MH: How do you think the upcoming season will play out for Oshawa?

CO: We are losing a few players but I still know the boys will come out and play hard every night.

MH: Who’s your favourite hockey player of all time and why?

CO: Gretzky. He wasn’t the biggest or fastest, he was just awesome.

MH: Who would play in your dream hockey game? Team wise.

CO: My dream team game would be Oshawa Generals vs Peterborough Petes in the Memorial Cup in Oshawa.

If you’re a passionate fan and want your team of league featured, I want to hear from YOU! Find me on twitter @MarchHockey, or send me a message on facebook, http://www.facebook.com/MarchHockey

Fan Voice: George Royle and the Swindon Wildcats, Dallas Stars

(Twitter: @george_royle)
(Twitter: @george_royle)

George Royle is a fellow hockey writer and a friend of mine who I met while writing at Blackout Dallas. A die hard hockey fan and native of the United Kingdom, George gives me his look at how he got into the hockey world and a look at the upcoming season for the Swindon Wildcats and the major changes that were made in Texas with the Stars.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

I live in a county called Wiltshire, which is located in the South West of England and about 80 miles West of London. I got into hockey about 13 years ago when my dad took me to watch my local team play live. A short time after, I caught my first NHL game which was aired on television over here, and since then I haven’t looked back. Up to this day, hockey is my favourite sport and I play/watch the game as much as possible.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Swindon Wildcats?

Swindon_Wildcats_LogoGR: With the Swindon Wildcats being just a 20 minute journey away, they are the closest (semi) professional ice hockey team to me. They play in the EPIHL which is a league I thoroughly enjoy watching. Any team has the capability of beating anyone, which makes the majority of games entertaining and competitive.

I watch all of the regular season home games every campaign as well as catching the odd road game now and again. With all of the games being played at the weekend, my weeks during the winter are spent looking forward to going to watch the Cats play!

MH:  Who’s a player on the team that stands out the most in your eyes?

Jonas HoogGR: Without a doubt it is the Swedish import, Jonas Hoog! This guy has a lot of talent and should undoubtedly be playing at a lot higher standard, but his loyalty to the Wildcats has been pretty admirable.

Last season he bagged 120 points in just 54 games. Jonas isn’t afraid to pull some tricks out of the bag and he always plays the game with a smile on his face. With his favourable surname, whenever he touches the puck the crowd all cheer an elongated “hoooooooooooooooooog”!! Continue reading “Fan Voice: George Royle and the Swindon Wildcats, Dallas Stars”

Fan Voice: Trevor Burrell and the Kitchener Rangers

Trevor Burrell. Twitter: @tburr51
Trevor Burrell. Twitter: @tburr51

Trevor Burrell is a die hard sports fan who cheers on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Blue Jays and the University of Michigan when he’s not busy cheering on the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Trevor Burrell: I live in Waterloo ON. Had a backyard rink when I was 3-4 years old and have played and been a fan ever since.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Kitchener Rangers?

rangers50logo_TB: Went to my first Ranger game as a young kid and looked at the players as heroes. Would go with my dad, sister and friend every Friday night, wait for autographs and would play mini sticks between periods in the basement by the old souvenir store. As I got older 13-14 I was on my own to go with friends to games and would rarely miss any home games. I bought my season tickets for the first time in 1996 season and have had them ever since. As my age got older I got a car and have been to almost all of the rinks in the OHL following the team.

MH: What’s your favourite Rangers moment?

TB: Best Ranger moment was being in Quebec City to see the team with the Memorial Cup and the post game celebrations. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Trevor Burrell and the Kitchener Rangers”

Fan Voice: Matt Freedman and the Manchester Phoenix

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.
Matt Freedman.

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?

New-phoenix-logo07MF: 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. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Matt Freedman and the Manchester Phoenix”

Fan Voice: Anthony Russell and the Basingstoke Bison, Third Tier German Hockey

(Twitter: 84arussell)
(Twitter: 84arussell)

Anthony Russell is a passionate hockey fan with incredible hockey knowledge. We all know my obsession with Germany (if you don’t, now you do and don’t ask why.) and I jumped at the chance to learn more about the game there when Anthony asked to lend me a hand. Even if it is third tier, it’s a good look at seeing where hockey fits in Deutschland.

Along with giving me a great look at another EPIHL team, the Basingstoke Bison, Anthony runs his own blog covering the team and league itself. You can find that here.
March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

LogoBasingstokeBisonAnthony Russell: I’ll take the second part of that first; I studied German at university which necessitated living there for a bit and I moved over in 2004. I lived in Rostock which is a town on the coast of the Baltic Sea and used to be part of communist East Germany. I walked to the end of the road and saw a poster that said “Neue Futterzeit, Sonntag 19 Uhr, REC Piranhas, Eishalle Schillingallee”. I went along, fell in love with Rostock Piranhas (and I still am) and it’s a love affair that’s lasted 10 years. When I left Germany to come back and finish my degree I realised I wanted to keep watching ice hockey. I had two choices; either get a bus to a train to a boat to go to the Isle of Wight and watch the Wightlink Raiders or get on a train to Basingstoke to see the Bison. That was November 2005 and I’ve been a mutual Piranhas and Bison fan ever since.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Bison and of Rostock?

rostock_piranhasAR: I’m a sucker for punishment? In all seriousness I’m passionate about both teams for different reasons. I’m passionate about Rostock because they were my first connection to the sport. I fell into that and this weird English speaking dude has been embraced by people and the club. Basingstoke was my choice. I had a choice of a couple of places and that was the one I chose, albeit for convenience because I was a poor university student at the time but I chose them and stuck with it. We have won a sum total of zero trophies (sorry folks, the Oliverra 4on4 tournament doesn’t count) been in 2 cup finals that we lost, been to one finals weekend where we got knocked out in the semi final on sudden death penalties, nearly been bust twice but I keep going back. The sport and this club and the people I’ve met keep me going back. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Anthony Russell and the Basingstoke Bison, Third Tier German Hockey”

Fan Voice: Jon Rowson and the Czech Extraliga

I love European hockey, it’s clearly no secret. Although it will never top the home sweet home of Canada and our passionate game, Europe and their leagues are following close behind. Here’s the thing, I know barely anything about the leagues aside from the EIHL and KHL and a bit of SM-Liiga. So when Jon Rowson approached me about his passion for the Czech Extraliga, I jumped at the chance to expand my hockey knowledge. Rowson is also the current English website manager for HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL.

Jon Rowson. (Twitter: @JonRowson)
Jon Rowson. (Twitter: @JonRowson)

He took the time to talk to me about both leagues and the effect of last season’s NHL lockout.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you get into hockey?

Jon Rowson: Well I was born and raised in a town just outside of Birmingham, England, although this summer I’m calling Prague, Czech Republic home. It was actually my father who got me into hockey. He tells me that he took me to a game at the old Solihull Blaze rink back in the late 90s when I was very young, but apparently I hated it and so we left mid-way through the game! However, the Blaze then relocated to Coventry, and I was taken to a few games and I grew to love the game. I can still remember being there when the Blaze defeated the Dundee Stars in the 2003 British National League playoff final. Very hazy memories of course, but still, I remember all the streamers and confetti falling from the top of the stand!

MH: Why are you so passionate about the Czech Extraliga and in your opinion, what makes the league a superior one?

czech-hockey-league-mapJR: When I was younger, my father did a lot of work in the Czech Republic, and he would often schedule his trips in time with my school holidays, meaning that from an early age I would end up in either the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Of course, we would also try and fit it in with the hockey schedule, and back in 2006 I went to my first Czech Extraliga game. None other than the Prague derby between Slavia and Sparta at the then Sazka Arena (now o2 Arena). Cue my surprise as a fourteen year old kid who had only been to EIHL games before that, seeing a massive crowd of over 10,000, riot police bringing in the Sparta fans, and also the whole atmosphere was just crazy. I had never experienced two sets of fans singing for the whole sixty minutes. From that day I began to love everything about Extraliga hockey.

Czech_Extraliga_logoWhile the fan culture is a massive part, and I’ve met some fantastic people through it, I also find that it is incredibly fun to watch. At present I work for a KHL club on their website, which has meant that I have watched a lot of KHL hockey over the past two years, and if I’m honest, I find it incredibly defensive minded and rather dull, even when I’m watching a team I support. The Extraliga is an incredibly offensive minded league, and I don’t think any of the fourteen teams understands what a neutral zone trap is. The players shoot at will, and I just find it by far the most entertaining league in the world to watch. I’ve also noticed that players seem to play the game with a real love for the sport. I love to see players really celebrate after scoring a goal like it means something to them. I hate it when guys score a goal don’t smile or show some sort of happiness at scoring. You don’t get that in the Extraliga. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Jon Rowson and the Czech Extraliga”

Fan Voice: Craig Summerton and the Coventry Blaze

Craig Summerton is a die-hard Coventry Blaze fan who also runs his own blog dedicated to hockey of the United Kingdom. It might be new but his post gives an in-depth look at Team Great Britain and the Blaze in general. He gives me a look at the Blaze, how they will cope with the loss of Captain Shea Guthrie, and how they continue to Bleed Blue.

March Hockey: Where are you located and how did you first get into hockey?

Craig Summertown (middle) with Blaze players Adam Calder and Joel Poirier (Twitter: @block15blaze)
Craig Summertown (middle) with Blaze players Adam Calder and Joel Poirier (Twitter: @block15blaze)

Craig Summerton: Born and bred in Coventry, living and working in London. Coventry Blaze season ticket holder so every game is an away game for me. On recommendation from a friend I attended one of the first Blaze games at the Skydome and I’ve been hooked ever since.

MH: What makes you a passionate fan of the Coventry Blaze and the EIHL in general?

175px-CoventryBlazeCS: I used to be a Coventry City season ticket holder but after attending a few ice hockey games my passion quite quickly shifted to the Blaze. After my first season of ice hockey, the Coventry City season ticket wasn’t renewed (sorry for my part in the state that club are in today!) and I found myself travelling around the country following the Blaze most weekends. I enjoy being part of a fairly small community of UK hockey fans, I’ve met life long friends of all ages through ice hockey. One of the big attractions of the sport for me is how it breaks down age barriers. I’m 29, one of my best friends who I met through hockey is 82. It really makes no difference. I like the fact that fans of all teams, can make friends and come together after a game without fear of trouble. Can you imagine bringing ten sets of football supporters into one venue for a whole weekend like we do in the UK for the playoff weekend? Mixed with alcohol, it would be chaos. It’s a shame more ‘closed minded’ football fans won’t give ice hockey a chance in the UK.

 
FC41E0E0-B175-44F2-B6E7A758CC5D4ABC_H234_W407The EIHL has taken a lot of criticism over the years (deservedly so in the most part) but I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to the old British National League days in which Coventry used to compete or indeed for my club to move to the current EPL. Don’t get me wrong, the EPL has its merits & some of my best hockey memories come from the days when Blaze competed in the BNL. However, I feel that the EIHL as a ‘product’ is a major step up in quality over the old BNL and current EPL and that’s where I want my team to compete. The level of import being recruited to play in the EIHL seems to be improving each and every year. Many clubs have done a good job forging links with local Universities in order to offer high calibre pros the opportunity to study and play. Younger guys from across the pond seem to be using the league as a stepping stone to get into the higher paying Euro leagues and British players appear to be reaching levels beyond what we have seen in the past. The ever-widening gap between the rich and poor in the league is a worry but the introduction of the conference system (with the prospect of tweaks in future years!) has to be considered a success. Continue reading “Fan Voice: Craig Summerton and the Coventry Blaze”