In my recent discovery of women’s hockey in the UK, I was told about an event that happens every year in Swindon, called the Friendship Tournament.
Never one to let something that intriguing slide, I decided to find out more.
The first thing that I found was that this tournament is now in its 18th year. That’s a hell of a long time in hockey terms, and only goes to prove that women’s ice hockey is a lot more rooted in the UK than most people think. There are 18 teams participating this year, with two Under 12s teams made up of a mix of players from around the country, and a similar Under 16s team, as well as 3 other Under 16 teams and 12 senior teams.
The tournament consists of 84 round robin games, each of which is 13 minutes long, but they are played without stoppages. The finals, which all take place on Sunday, are slightly longer, but will no doubt be the highlight of the weekend, and result in two trophies being taken home – one in the U16 category and one in the seniors category.
Team participating this year are: Basingstoke Bison, Blackburn Thunder, Bracknell Ice Bees (U16), BWIHFT Team (U16), Coventry Phoenix, Guildford Lightning, Manchester Phoenix, Milton Keynes Falcons, Oxford Midnight Stars, Sheffield Shadows (U16), Solihull Vixens, Streatham Strorm, Swindon Topcats (A & B teams), Swindon Topcats (Under 16s) and Wrekin Raiders.
If you’re interested in going along to watch (and after watching the playoff weekend, I highly recommend that you do!), tickets for the event are only £3 per day, or £5 for the whole weekend, which includes a programme. For more information, check out the Facebook group!
And if you do go, keep me updated please!