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 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?
CS: 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.
The 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”