MESSAGE FROM THE GM

SEASON TICKETS: The Go Goodwins Coaches sponsored Manchester Storm are pleased to announce that season tickets for the 2016/17 Elite Ice Hockey League season are now available to purchase. Season Tickets can be ordered online by clicking here, by calling the box office on 0161 926 8782, or in person at the box office.

Hi Storm fans,

Firstly, a HUGE thanks to all of you for this season just gone. To see what we achieved on and off the ice, has filled myself and all connected to the club, with immense pride. Thinking back to early August 2015 and my arrival into Manchester, little did I know what lay ahead. I knew it was going to be a long hard road this first season in growing the club from scratch, but I don’t think anyone knew exactly what level of work it was really going to require. To all the rink staff, volunteers and sponsors, a massive “thank you” from me, for all your help and support.

When I arrived in August, teams like Sheffield already had their team in the country, on the ice and preparing for their CHL games, yet we still had half our team still to sign, locker rooms to get refurbished, hire an equipment manager, order equipment, get a merchandise supplier, get a volunteer group together, sort player visas, flights, accommodation…………I really could go on. In essence, for us to even have had a team out on the ice in time for the start of the season was an accomplishment in itself!

I was very realistic about this first season in terms of our on ice aspirations. It was almost about just getting through this first season, and ensuring that as a club, we connected with the fan base & that as a club we continued to grow month on month, and that we did, and some. That’s down to many factors, the hard work put in behind the scenes, our match night entertainment with Jon Hammond playing lead conductor, that keeps enticing fans & “newbies” to come back and fall in love with our great sport, and you the fans have played a huge part in it too. As I said at the start of the season, you guys are ambassadors for our club. How you helped spread the word of the “Storm” to family, work colleagues, friends, your social media etc etc, has all played a huge part in our first seasons success.

On the hockey side of things, I’m delighted to have Omar Pacha back as our player coach for the 2016/2017 season. Pach is a grafter. He’s a passionate guy, as all of you will have seen throughout the season, but trust me, he cares even more than what you guys see. Pach recruited this season’s team in such a short space of time, looking back, it was crazy. He now has a full summer to recruit ahead of next season, and I have full confidence that he will put a team together that will resonate with all Storm fans. Expect the team to remain skilled with speed, but there will be more size and grit in there too.

I get asked a lot about players returning. Firstly, hockey is a very nomadic sport, players come and go. We have of course identified the guys we are interested in having back. We hope to have some positive news on that front for you all over the coming weeks. The good thing is we also have a lot of players contacting us from around the league, N.America & Europe, expressing a desire to play for the Storm next season. Even though this first season was in many ways manic, we made sure our players were looked after well & that doesn’t take long to spread in the hockey world. We will take our time with recruitment to ensure we have the right people who “get it” & understand the importance of this club continuing to grow next season and the years ahead.

Off the ice, as I’ve already mentioned, we grew from nothing in essence, into something that was really special. The sell out game on New Year’s Day was awesome, and the way in which everything came together throughout the season as we continued to see progress on and off the ice, was great to see. One area that I felt was slightly neglected, understandably so given the workload, was the amount of fan events. Of course we had a couple of “Skate With The Storm” evening’s, and a few other events which were really successful, but nowhere near to the level of “fan events” that I want. Fan engagement is very important to any organisation and I for one place huge importance on it. Simply put, I don’t have the time presently to dedicate to organising these events, so with that in mind, we are going to be setting up a Supporters Club to assist with some of these off ice ventures. The group are going to assist in driving these events for the club, so please get behind it and encourage. For those who might think of “supporters groups” as cliquey, please don’t. Those of you that have gotten to know me this past season will know that I welcome anyone that is willing to help drive our club forwards, for the benefit of all. Go take a look at the Braehead Clan OSC for example, those guys have done an incredible job for their Organisation. I know this first hand from speaking to their management team at different stages throughout this season. Their group take a huge weight of pressure away from the club in driving events & fundraisers for their club, which will be the aim of our own. More info on that all will be released in due course.

Looking ahead to this weekend in Nottingham for the end of season play-offs, whilst it’ll be sad not to see us out there on the ice, it will be awesome to see all the Storm fans throughout the weekend. I know the league are very happy with the amount of Storm tickets sold, which further highlights how beneficial the addition of the Storm has been to the Elite league. If you’ve never been before, you’ll have a blast. There’s something really special about the final 4 weekend, a sell-out crowd made up of over 7k fans from all across the league. Represent the club with pride & sing your hearts out, as you always do.

So, some of you might think now it’s the end of season for the Storm, that all the hard work has stopped? Far from it. Once we get all the players back on their flights home, accommodation and cars all boxed off, I can get down to concentrating on getting more structures in place off the ice that will further help us moving forward, and to focus on the commercial aspects of the club. We were blessed in our opening season to have gained some superb sponsors, but like every club, we will be looking to broaden that sponsorship base even further moving into next season. We have had contact from quite a few companies already looking to sponsor the team ahead of next season, which is hugely positive. We have multiple sponsorship opportunities available to businesses, so if you are interested, or know of any companies that are, please pass on my contact details. (gm@manchesterstorm.com)

Finally, we’ll keep all of you in the loop with signing news when all the i’s are dotted, and all the t’s are crossed. This is a really important off season for the club in terms of recruitment, so we will take our time to ensure that all the parts to the jigsaw are put in place. Season tickets went on sale last Thursday, and early sales from that have been incredibly encouraging, so thanks yet again for your continued support. So, if we don’t happen to bump into each other this coming weekend at the playoffs, please have an amazing summer, and I look forward to seeing you all back at the #StormShelter in mid-August, for what promises to be another excitement packed season of Elite League ice hockey with your Manchesterrrrrr Stttoooorrrmmmm!

Regards,

Neil

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