All I wanted for Christmas Was My Hockey Team Backâ€¦
Storm fan Nathan Camp gives us his views on all thingsÂ Storm inÂ the first of the new Storm Blogger series. Would you like to contribute? If so please email Storm GM Neil Russell at GM@manchesterstorm.com
The question is: have we got what we wanted?
Two days before Christmas, after a two year exile in the States, a good friend of mine landed back at Manchester airport. Greeted with pounding rain, whipping winds and every other element the good old Manchester weather could throw at him, he had one thing on his mind: when was the next Storm game?
On the 27th we saw a thrilling, five star performance lead us to a 5-1 win over the Fife Flyers and the question was answered. Yes, the Storm are back. As the number five continues to dominate the article, here are five things that the resurrected Manchester Storm has got right:
Sunday night saw the team finally rewarded for their hard work, perseverance and commitment. So many times this season, we have played well but not quite managed to secure the deserved result when the final buzzer rang. All you have to do is look at the benches each time we play to see that we are still building a squad, whilst the other teams ice a full team we are consistently short of numbers. However the fact remains, we might be short on numbers but we are most certainly not short on talent. Whether itâ€™s the Ovechkin and Backstrom like link-up-play of Scarsella and Sisca; the powerful play of Valcak; the silky hands of Toulmin; the endeavour of Davies, or the speed of Salazar, it is clear that this is a team built to entertain. With an empty roster, Pacha might have been forgiven for filling his team with size and strength in an attempt to physically impose ourselves on the Elite League, but instead he chose to create a team intended to play its way in to the league with speed and skill. The old Storm entertained us every single time they hit the ice and this team is built to do exactly the same.
Whether itâ€™s the nostalgic satisfaction of seeing Mike Morin behind the bench; the sense of excitement at once again seeing a netminder wearing Frankieâ€™s famous number forty; the wave of joy that washes over you when you hear the legend that is Jon Hammond uttering the words â€˜and who are you?â€™ â€“ unless heâ€™s asking you of course – or the goose bumps that creep up your arm at seeing the frenzied, yellow-faced, Lightning Jack announcing the imminent arrival of the players, it can never be said that the new franchise has forgotten the old. For years the hockey fans of Manchester have been desperate for the return of, not just hockey, but hockey as they remember it. Each time the decision is made to bring back something else from the past, it makes thousands of Storm fans smile and remember the good times.
One of my favourite games to play whilst trying to avoid the predatory attention of Jon Hammond in between periods â€“ thereâ€™s no way heâ€™s getting me up pretending Iâ€™m doing the Grand National â€“ is spot the NHL jersey. Yet Sunday night against Fife it was almost impossible to play because, quite frankly, Storm jerseys were everywhere. Donâ€™t get me wrong at the start of the season there was still a multitude of Storm jerseys from the past â€“ and it was hilarious see to so many of us trying to squeeze into 20 year old clothes pretending we hadnâ€™t put that much weight on â€“ but all of them were from years gone by. Now though, the new jerseys are everywhere: the home, the away, the retro, and the pink, all of them looking modern, exciting and, most of all, like a Storm jersey should. The army of Storm fans are wearing their colours with pride again and who cannot love that?
With the storm Twitter account on the verge of breaking 7000 followers, as well as Storm Live; the Facebook page; the Storm Forum; the new website, and Clare Freemanâ€™s podcast, you would have to have been living at the bottom of the ocean not to know that the infamous Manchester Storm had returned. And thatâ€™s exactly what we want. There were 20,000 of us once and we need as many of us to return as we can get. The club have done an incredible job of bringing the fans back, old and new, through an excellent and inclusive social media campaign. Sundayâ€™s game against Fife saw a packed arena and if the club continues to attract fans like it has done in only half a season we will soon need to expand.
My U.S based friend brought this to my attention when he said: â€˜Everyone knows each other.â€™ This wasnâ€™t something I ever really noticed during our days at the M.E.N and credit goes to the club for making the fans feel involved in the resurrection of one of the nationâ€™s favourite teams. The work that goes on off the ice – skating with and meeting the players; winning playerâ€™s shirts and taking pictures with them; chatting with the GM, the owner and back room staff; offering fans the chance to be involved with promoting the club and designing the flag â€“ has helped to create an ice hockey team that we not only watch but actually feel a part of.
So Christmas is over and we got exactly what we wanted and more. And even better than that, with a growing fan base; an improving squad; a highly committed GM and management team, and the proposed development of the rink and the surrounding area, it seems like The Storm are back for good.
By Nathan Camps
NEXT HOME GAME: The Go Goodwins Manchester Storm face the Sheffield Steelers at the Storm Shelter this FridayÂ (3:00pm face-off) in the third and finalÂ themed â€œRetro Nightsâ€. Tickets can be purchased online via the website, calling the box office on tel: 0161-926-8782 or on the day at the box office.