Manchester Phoenix vs Kingston Kestrels [10.05.2014]

Dear Diary,

Today I went to my first sledge hockey game and it was awesome…

20140510_133544(Please excuse the crappy photo, I only had my phone and was taking photos through the glass)

Seriously though, I enjoyed myself far more than I thought I would.  The teams were fantastic, with lots of goals (okay, so maybe they were a little one sided, with the Kestrels winning 7-1, but still fun), and a lot of speed, skill and determination.  Despite being in a sledge, the hits seem just as hard as regular hockey, with more than one of them leaving me wincing in sympathy.

The rules are almost identical to IIHF hockey rules, with a few exceptions, so it’s easy to follow, but the style of play is rather different.  Board battles are still the same, but there is a lot more passing and bouncing the puck off the boards than I expected.  Because it’s hard to build up speed in a sledge while controlling the puck (the sticks are also the means of propelling themselves on the ice), there are less breakaways, and more long passes.

There were two big things that I noticed about the game though.

The first was the clear difference in skill levels between the Team GB players and the others.  Not that the non-international players were bad, at all (hell, the fact that they’re on the team means they’re pretty damn good), but the GB players were a step above the rest.  The goals in the game were scored by Matt Clarkson (Kestrels, 3 goals), Ian Warner (Kestrels, 3 goals), Matt Woollias (Kestrels, 1 goal) and Karl Nicholson (Phoenix, 1 goal).  All four of them are Team GB players.  Everyone was great to watch, but those guys really stood out for me.

The second thing I noticed made me sad.  There were only a tiny amount of supporters there, and I strongly suspect that most of them were family and friends of the players.  In fact, when I mentioned to someone that I was there and didn’t already know one of the players, they seemed almost shocked.  So, fair warning.  I’m going to continue to promote sledge hockey on my blog and my twitter.  I’ll keep promoting it until it’s no longer needed (so probably for a fair while yet).  It’s a fantastic sport, and close enough to regular hockey that if you’re a hockey fan, you’ll enjoy this too.

For me, personally, one of the other endearing fact about the sport is that the players and teams are so happy to interact on social media.  Having players favourite my tweets, or retweet me makes me happy.  It makes me more likely to keep tweeting and talking about them, and it makes me feel like they actually want me there at the games.  I’m a big believer in the power of social media in any case, but this is proving my point again.  Both the Kestrels and the Phoenix have been so friendly towards me on twitter, it just makes me want to support them more.

Oh, and while I wasn’t sure which team to support at the start, I think it’s going to be Kingston.  Two hat tricks in my first game pretty much seals the deal – unless  Manchester can pull out something spectacular for their next game against Peterborough on June 14th.  For those who want to watch Kingston play, their next game is May 24th against Cardiff.

So, in conclusion, sledge hockey is awesome, and you should all go watch a game or three.

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12 thoughts on “Manchester Phoenix vs Kingston Kestrels [10.05.2014]

  1. Karen Worsnop

    what a great blog. glad you enjoyed your first taste of sledge hockey. my cousin is Matt Clarkson who plays for the Kestrels so I’m a little biased but I agree sledge hockey is awesome. I’ve been promoting it at my work and was pleased to see some of my colleagues come along today with their kids. the fact that its free is also a bonus as sometimes these things can be expensive especially for families. keep supporting the Kestrels xx

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    1. carolinakaniac Post author

      Thanks Karen. Matt was fantastic today – you’re allowed to be biased! I’m going to continue promoting sledge hockey as much as I can. I’m glad to hear your promotions are working!!

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  2. rowena peaker

    I was at the game today with my husband and son, MAX. The reason we were there is because MAX is also trying to promote sledge hockey. He is 14 years old and used to play himself in Grimsby but because the team never actually played against another team, they were just practising all of the time but getting nowhere , and max became disillusioned. He has written a PowerPoint presentation about the game in order to spread the word and hopefully encourage more people to take the sport up so that more teams can be created and for all age groups.

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    1. carolinakaniac Post author

      That’s such a shame for Max 😦 Without younger players involved in the game, we’ll end up running out of players eventually.

      Have you gotten in touch with the BSHA? They might be able to help facilitate some under 18 games…

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  3. GemmaBeer

    Great post! I’ve never been to a sledge hockey game before, but think I will take a trip down to the BBT to see the Devils soon. It looks awesome 🙂

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  4. wendy wigger

    I’m lovin this post, I actually fell in love with sledge hockey during the socchi games, I have planted my initial support to Peterbrough Panthers only beause they are the nearest team to me, but whilst doing my research I came across the Kingston Kestrels too whom I now have a soft spot for and if any teams do get going down south I will support those too. Really looking forward to watching it and I love the amount of info you have put on here.

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  5. wendy wigger

    I just made a booobbb its the phantoms not the panthers – ive just been reading other areas on your site – sorry for mistake lol

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    1. carolinakaniac Post author

      LOL! It can get confusing with all the different teams in one city – I have enough trouble keeping track of the Sheffield teams right now!

      The Kestrels are my closest team, so by default they’re the ones I’ll get to see most, but I’ve been reliably told (by someone involved with the team) that Peterborough are going to be the team to watch this year! Not sure how true that is, but I might have to give them a try.

      And thank you so much for reading and commenting. And especially for saying that you’re looking forward to watching. If I can help get a few more people interested in this amazing sport, I’ll feel like I’ve done some good 🙂

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  6. Graham Wilson

    Thank you for taking the time to blog about Sledge Hockey and what a really great post this is. I am really glad you enjoyed watching your first game and trust you will be coming to watch more 🙂 I will definitely be keeping an eye on your blog from now on its already safely on my favourites bar!

    If you are interested the next league game is in Peterborough on Saturday 17th May. Peterborough v Cardiff. I play for Manchester so I wont be playing but will be going over there to watch with a couple of the other Manchester players.

    I notice you are a Steelers fan so may be interested to know that a Sledge team has just started up recently in Sheffield. I haven’t been over myself yet but a couple of my team mates have attended the training sessions on Friday’s at Ice Sheffield and said they were looking promising and may even be ready to compete in the league next year. Great news for all of us 🙂

    Also to Rowena about her Son Max. We too have a teenager who trains with us but as there are no junior teams he cant play competitively. Its very unfortunate. That being said he is 15 now so next season he will be 16 and able to compete with us in the league. I am sure there will be a long term plan in place to set-up a junior system but other than that I know nothing.

    If you have any questions or comments dont hesitate to get in touch with the BSHA. They answer all questions and take on board all feedback. It’s much more ‘customer facing’ than you may expect for a governing body.

    Thanks again all for coming to watch the game!

    G Wilson #9
    Phoenix Sledge

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    1. carolinakaniac Post author

      Thank you so, so much Graham! You guys are the ones doing all the hard work – although the stress of supporting any form of hockey can be a challenge some days! LOL!

      I’d love to come watch Peterborough, but it’s a bit far for me to drive (I’m near Leeds). Rest assured I’ll be following as much as I can online. Maybe one day we’ll be able to get audio or video feeds of the games 🙂

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  7. Pingback: Sledge Hockey – Cardiff Devils Vs Kingston Kestrels | Beer & Hockey

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