Good evening and welcome to the season proper as we get underway with a league / cup tie against the Sheffield Steeldogs. The Steeldogs were possibly the biggest surprise of last season, finished way ahead of everyone’s expectations of them and gave a great account of Andre Payette’s first full season in charge.
Speaking of surprises I wasn’t very surprised with last weekend’s events. The Jets vs Bees game the previous season went the same way and with so few changes in the line up and it’s clear that little has changed in their playing philosophy. The good thing is following a win on Saturday and on Sunday the Jets are crowned the Battle of Berkshire champions, rightly so.
Starting the season missing an import isn’t easy. It’s sad that Juraj Senko never actually got to represent the Jets but I’m sure once he is back to full fitness he’ll be back playing somewhere in this country and I wish him the best of luck.
So the Steeldogs tonight …. Last season their success owed a great deal to two players, Ben Bowns and Janis Ozolins, both of which have stepped up to the Elite League this season. Losing Bowns and Ozolins is massive for the Steeldogs, the man at the front who made things happen and the man at the back who stopped things happening. There’s no doubting Payette’s coaching credentials with the way he turned around a lower table team and had them competing within a season but the player losses he has suffered this will be a tough season for them.
I’m writing this before the pre-season game against the Wildcats on Wednesday but pre-season has gone well so far. A 5-5 tie at Swindon, missing an import defenceman and the starting netminder, followed by a win over Bracknell in all departments with again a missing import defenceman and the same on Sunday missing two imports and a Brit. Hopefully it’s a good sign of things to come this season although there will be some tough games ahead for sure the Jets have got off to a good start in a short time of pre-season.
Our first home game of the season saw us attract 371 people to the Hangar and that’s something I’d like to see us all work hard to increase this season. Ice Hockey is a great family sport, it’s a great couple of hours out either for a group of lads or girls or for a family night out. The country is riding a fantastic sporting wave at the moment with the Olympics and Paralympics and now Andy Murray’s Tennis success. Ice Hockey may not have the media attention of the Olympics and football but it’s a great night out, you all know that because you’re here, so we need to do our bit to encourage new blood in the stands and increase the profile of the club and the sport.
So it’s “real” action tonight for “real” points so let’s get right back into it and be loud and proud for the boys tonight.
Enjoy the game.
My team, your team, OUR TEAM.