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Blaze Burning Brightly And Happy In Coventry

Coventry’s ice hockey team is hoping to close in on a British record this weekend to continue a superb start to life in the city.

The ice hockey team regularly played in front of crowds of just 500 when they were based in Solihull.

But since their summer move to the Skydome the fan base has just kept on growing, and the team is now closing in on yet another attendance record.

By topping 2,000 spectators, the Blaze set a record among British National League clubs in England, and if they get to the point where 800 standing tickets are also sold they will get past the mark set by the Fife Flyers.

Club director Grant Charman said crowds having been constantly growing as people in the city latch on to the furious spectacle.

And the Blaze have reacted to the mounting support by going on a rampant winning streak. They currently top the table in four competitions.

Charman said:

“They absolutely love it. Because of the acoustics the sound and the noise funnel down onto the ice.

The ritual goal celebration dance performed by the crowd is becoming a frequent sight, and Charman says it is a measure of how many new fans are coming along and enjoying themselves.

He said:

“When the first goal goes in there’s a lot of people who don’t do the dance because they don’t know it, but as time goes on you can see they are enjoying themselves because they take part more.”

He said confidence is one of the reasons why the team is doing so well, along with the magic worked on the 18-man squad by respected coach Paul Thompson.

Despite being streaks ahead of the opposition, there is only a small chance of winning promotion to the Superleague. Ice hockey is based on a franchise system and the Coventry Skydome doesn’t yet boast the facilities needed to get in among the big boys.

Charman said there is also a gulf in salaries, with most of the Superleague players coming from abroad.

In the BNL there is a limit, and there is also a competition restricted to players trained in Britain.

The squad is gearing up for the next challenge: a grudge match with Hull Thunder in the short Christmas competition the NTL Cup.

Charman said:

“They were the last team to go away from the Skydome with a victory, so it’s payback time. We went to Hull and played there recently and won 4-3. It’s going to be a very close game.”

The game is at 6pm on Sunday.
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CWN / Sport / Ice Hockey / Coventry Blaze / 8 Dec 00
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