The Rise of British Ice Hockey

England has had some very talented hockey players over the years such as

British hockey is growing in popularity.

goalies, centers, wings, and defensive players. These are some of the top British hockey players to ever live. So, if you’re a native of England and want to play hockey professionally then you are good to go.

The Sheffield Steelers is one of the most successful teams in Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League. They play their matches at the FlyDSA Arena in Sheffield and are popular for their pregame dramatics as for their form on the ice, though both are entertaining.

Ice hockey in the UK is having a particular moment of popularity. As far as live attendances, it has become the most-watched indoor sport in Britain, according to the EIHL, and the 3rd most popular winter sport, after football and rugby, games that are played at schools all over the country. (Ice hockey is not, yet.) This wave of interest is a good thing, though you have to wonder: why didn’t it become popular way sooner?

The Steelers are owned by Tony Smith, a Sheffield-born businessman who more than a few individuals consider being the savior of championship ice hockey in the UK. Also, he is the EIHL chairman. In 2011, when he bought the Steelers, support was low and the club was in receivership. Beyond a community of die-hard fans, few folks considered the British game a worthwhile spectacle. Brits tend to think of ice hockey as inaccessible and enigmatic, hard to play and hard to understand.

The Videotron is emblematic of Smith’s vision for ice hockey in the UK: a live-action entertainment extravaganza for the social media people. It screens during games, engaging the crowd, sometimes zooming in on the unlucky fan who are sleeping.

Smith likes to describe a hockey experience as a kind of sporting gateway drug: Just get them in for that first game and they’ll come back.

 

Top Canadian Hockey Towns (Part II)

Lakehead University

Thunder Bay, ON

These Canadian Hockey towns have the fans roaring with excitement at every game.

Here’s the thing that caught our attention: the Lakehead University hockey Facebook page has over 4,000 likes. Every other university had a majority of their likes for general athletics or the college as a whole. However, the fans in this school are all about hockey sticks. And maybe a little of that energy is spilling onto the ice. The women’s hockey team became the first Canadian team to ever join the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) and then went on to win the Division 2 2017 National Championship. The hockey in this city is truly on the rise.

 

Brock University

St. Catharines, ON

Here’s something you might not have heard: Brock University’s mascot is award-winning. Two university students crafted the #WeAreReady campaign that puts a spotlight on the athletics department as a whole and brought the community together. The campaign as well as the Boomer the Badger mascot—won honors at the Ontario University Athletics Awards for excellence.

St. Francis Xavier University

Antigonish, NS 

Speaking of truly good mascots, St. Francis Xavier University teams might just have the coolest names around. When you’re playing hockey against the X-Women and X-Men, do you really think you have a chance to win against those superpowers? It could be why the athletic department gets lots of love from fans.

Concordia University

Montreal, QC

There’s something thrilling about a neighborhood rivalry, which brings us to Concordia University and McGill. Just a bike ride from each other, there’s always a lot of competition and love between them. When it comes to hockey, Concordia is snapping at McGill’s heels. Their fan following is just a little less than McGills at around 8,200 likes, and the women’s hockey team was crowned conference champions for the 2016-2017 season. And, with all the dozens of bars around the Montreal area, you know Stingers fans and Martlet/Redmen fans clinking bottles at the same spot.