October 2nd – Slough Jets Programme

Welcome to tonight’s match up against the Guildford Flames, our first local derby of the season proper and one that I’m sure the fans have been looking forward to. We played Bracknell in the pre-season but tonight we’re playing for points so the stakes are that much higher.

Last weekend we played Telford for the first time at the Hangar since 2009. Looking back I remember Jets playing games against fierce Telford teams when their supporters were squeezed into their blocks but last weekend I think there was 8 or so travelling fans. Times are tough for everyone at the moment but 8 travelling supporters is possibly the lowest turnout I think I can remember seeing and does little to generate an atmosphere for sure.

Sunday Jets travelled to Peterborough and as is the usual for Jets’ visits to Peterborough the poor ice quality made an appearance and had an impact on the game. After warming up with cones on the ice two periods of the game were played which as it happened finished at 2-2. Then, when the third period is due to start the ice surface appears to have now become unplayable, and a hasty penalty shot competition is arranged to decide a winner.

Is that right? Certainly not. Take for example cricket when if weather intervenes and a shortened game is played a complex mathematical formula, the Duckworth/Lewis method calculates targets or winners based on resources used and available. Somebody doesn’t just decide well the score was this when the game got stopped so that’ll be the result.

Imagine the scenario that at some stage a team needs to score a point from a game to ensure play-off qualification, or cup progression. The game is going against them, perhaps they lose a crucial player through injury, but then by some miracle they get to a tie at the second interval. Have a quick word with the Zamboni driver and voila, after 12 minutes you’ve successfully got the game abandoned and guaranteed your point.

Am I saying that’s what happened last weekend? Certainly not. However what I am saying is that there is certainly a very dangerous precedent that can be set if situations like this are allowed to stand.

Sadly it’s not the first time the ice at Peterborough has resulted in a wasted Jets journey. We’ve had games abandoned before and in all honesty I think everyone can see this needs to be fixed. In my eyes it’s a simple fix. Ice rinks exist to make money, they host hockey to make money. I’m not saying that all rinks should be doing this but those that have had a history of such problems should be paying a bond to the league to be able to host hockey. Teams don’t own and run their own facilities so penalising the team with a fine is harsh and unfair but if the sport’s governing body hits the rink with providing a bond then you have the problem solved. With it being the governing body of the sport controlling the bond it’s not like the rink operator could just bring in or set up another ice hockey organisation as it wouldn’t get sanctioned so problems like last Sunday would need to be eradicated.

It’s inevitable that at some stage every rink will suffer a malfunction which will impact on it’s running, whether that be public skating, patch ice or hockey but thankfully for most rinks this is a very rare and minimal occurrence.

Where do we stand right now? Well as on Monday when I’m writing this it’s unknown. The result achieved on the night has been withdrawn as the league are carrying out an investigation into the game and time will tell the outcome and points allocation.

Anyway, back to the hockey and tonight I’m sure our near neighbours will have brought sizeable support. Games between our two teams usually turn out to be great adverts for the sport and they certainly aren’t games that you could predict the result to with any degree of confidence. That’s what sport is all about, two teams going head to head with both knowing the need to be at the very top of their game to grab the result and the points. I’m sure having two sets of supporters cheering their teams on through 60 minutes of tough competition will also generate quite an atmosphere tonight so hopefully the Hangar will be a loud place this evening.

Enjoy the game