An interest in British ice hockey this year has risen, alongside the rising of the Great Britain Ice Hockey team amongst the elite, for the first time since 1994. Having beaten hosts Hungary, Great Britain have secured their promotion by an 11-point lead in their group at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A. Therefore, placing them into the 2019 World Championships alongside some of the world’s best teams such as Canada, Russia, USA and Sweden. The UK secured the promotion thanks to a 3-2 win, after a penalty shoot-out in the final and decisive match against hosts Hungary. Robert Farmer secured the British equaliser with his goal for 2-2 with 15.8 seconds to go.
In recent years, British ice hockey has been strengthening, for example this season in the Champions Hockey League, Nottingham Panthers shocked SC Bern, whilst the Cardiff Devils had the biggest win in their history against HC Davos. The importance of these results for British ice hockey is incredible. British talent is so often looked at as being terrible in relation to the rest of Europe. Despite no funding externally, the British are ready for the World Championships next year.
Ice Hockey in the UK
Ice hockey in the UK is going through a special moment of fame. Numbers in the crowds are rising. It is now the most viewed indoor sport in Britain. According to the statistics, it is also the third most popular winter sport, sitting behind football and rugby, which are the preferred sporting codes at schools around the country. Although all this interest is a recent thing, it should have become more popular quicker. The increased interest has been noted in the purchases of tickets and merchandise through to sales figures for online ice hockey video and slot games. For example, players at some online casinos seem to have supplemented off-season rink action with exciting ice hockey themed slots, such as, Hockey Hero. For free, you could test it with a no deposit bonus code, for a bit of off-season fun.
Playing against the world’s best teams, it is hard to predict how Britain will cope. After two decades of players not qualifying for top levels, this team has made history and earnt the pride and respect from the people of the UK. In one week, Great Britain delivered their best results in five games, which will be remembered as their best World Championship Division results ever.
National Hockey League Media Exposure
Although ice hockey has previously received national exposure through the media on BBC Grandstand, this finished in 2007. The Elite League is also currently no longer shown on TV, however, thankfully the National Hockey League is. The National Hockey League is the main league from the United States of America and Canada, which is shown on Premier Sport and Free Sports. Free Sports is a new free for all sporting channel made recently available in the UK. Unfortunately, the National Hockey League doesn’t get any write ups or articles in the United Kingdom.
It is a real disappointment that Ice Hockey doesn’t receive the national coverage it deserves. Currently, there are talks as to whether or not a TV deal can be made. As the only exposure local ice hockey receives is online via the internet or local newspapers. The Elite League has grown from 10 to 11 teams. With an overall attendance of over one million people per season. This overall attendance is continuously rising, alongside the popularity of the sport, which we are happy to live through its recent growth and achievements. With our National Team making international news headlines, the media of the United Kingdom may begin paying attention to this truly entertaining sport.