Blueliner Guide To The GuildFord Flames
Venue: The Spectrum, Guildford, Surrey
Colours: Maroon, Navy, Gold
League: English Premier League
Following their third EPL title victory in 2012 the Guildford Flames cemented themselves as one of the UKâ€™s most successful lower league outfit. However it all nearly did not happen for the Flames.
After a successful debut season in which the Flames gained promotion to the British League Division 1 financial problems hit. Players threatened strikes, wages went unpaid and the Flames struggled to complete the season. However the league did allow the Flames to finish the season and a new owner entered before the start of the 1994/ 95 season.
The new owners steadied the ship and the Flames even drew with the Cardiff Devils during that first season and in the 1995/96 season the Flames missed out on promotion by 3 goals.
The start of the 1996/97 season the new Ice Hockey Superleague was launched and Guildford had planned to join the new league. However a dispute with the arena over addition seating meant that the Flames were unable to join the league and instead joined the new British National League. Despite only finishing third in the league the Flames won their first ever silverware in the form of the Benson & Hedges Plate.
The following season the Flames were unstoppable winning the BNL title and the playoff title for the first time and were again Plate winners in 1999.
The 2000 season though was a lean one despite a cash injection into the side but the next season the Flames were back on form. The side lost in the Plate final to the Basingstoke Bison before beating Fife in the Winter Cup and winning the league title and the beating the Bison in the playoffs.
That success was not to be repeated but the Flames did manage one last piece of silverware before the end of the BNL. The Flames winning the playoff title in 2004 and were losing finalist in 2003 and 2005.
With the end of BNL in 2005 the Flames were again tipped to join the top flight with the formation of the Elite League. This time however the support of the fans and backing of the owners was not there and the Flames entered the English Premier League.
The first season in the EPL was no match for the Flames as they won the first 20 games of the season had the league title wrapped by February.Â This was followed by victory in the EPL cup a year later.
A change of coach in 2007 saw Paul Dixon take over and the side returned the EPL title to the Spectrum but missed out on the Cup by losing in the final and in the playoff semi final. The following season though a poor start saw the Flames lose too much ground on Grand Slam Winners Peterborough. The Flames did have a highlight though as they faced Slovakian Extraliga side Poprad in front of Queen Elizabeth to open the Slovakâ€™s new arena.
The winning ways on the home front did return in 2010 as the Flames again won the EPL Cup and the after an injury hit start to the 2010/11 season the Flames rallied to finish 1 point behind the league winners the Manchester Phoenix. That good end to the season though did continue as they won the playoff title.
The Flames started of inconspicuously in the 2011/12 season as a tight league table saw 6 clubs separated by a hand full of points. After the Christmas break however the Flames found their form and whilst overs fell away the Flames kept on winning and took another league title.
The Flames 2012 EPL title means that they hav
e won each major trophy once in the last 3 seasons and in the last 15 seasons have had consecutive season without silverware once. It is a remarkable success rate for a side that has never competed in the top flight of British ice hockey.
- English Premier League Playoff Champions â€“ 2011
- English Premier Cup â€“ 2010, 2007, 2013
- English Premier League Champions â€“ 2013, 2012, 2008, 2004,
- British National League Play-Off Champions â€“ 2004, 2001, 1998
- Christmas Cup Winners â€“ 2001
- Benson & Hedges Plate Winners â€“ 1999
- British National League Winners â€“ 2001, 1998, 1997