There will be a new era on the ice in September when Guildford Flames join 11 other teams in the new look Elite League for the 2017/18 season.
Very few of their fans would ever have dreamt of seeing their team mix with the big boys of British Ice Hockey when the sport was first brought to Surrey in 1992.
The Flames started life in the English League Division One. Unfortunately, due to their home ice pad the Guildford Spectrum not yet being completed, Flames had to train at Slough Ice Rink, playing their initial home games at London’s Alexandra Palace until their new home ice was ready.
That historic moment happened on Saturday 23rd January 1993 when in front of a crowd of 2,139 Flames beat the visiting Stevenage Sharks 13-3. Despite finishing with 25 wins, Flames lost the league championship at Solihull Barons with a three-goal aggregate defeat.
From 1996 the club competed in the British National League. The club won the 1997/98 Southern Conference, BNL and play-off titles and remained in the league for seven seasons until its closure in 2005. The club also secured the 1998 Benson and Hedges Plate.
In 2005/2006 Flames joined the English Premier League. This was to be their home for 12 seasons, before announcing at the back end of last season that they would be testing themselves by joining the Elite League.
While odds will likely be longer with sites like bigfreebet.com in this league, they will still be hoping to replicate their previous success over coming years. Joining the English Premier League has meant more success for Flames.
The Guildford-based unit can boost no less than four EPL championships, five Premier Cups and two play-off titles in 12 years. Not a bad haul in anybody’s eyes. Throw in a double winning side of 2016 who won the cup and play-off final, and you can now see why hockey in Surrey has been thriving for many a year.
Go back to the early formative years, they now boast a very healthy fan base averaging around 1,700, and the reward is to see their ice heroes competing at the very highest level of hockey in Britain.
Guildford will be pitting their wits against the best teams of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland shortly and, with Head Coach Paul Dixon at the helm, be prepared for more thrills on Surrey’s ice come autumn.