Five Things We Learned: It’s great to be back

The fans are back...and it's wonderful (PHOTO: James Assinder)

Every day’s a school day and after so long away, apart from some short format tournaments, there’s always room for extra learning.

We’ve cast something of an analytical eye over the weekend’s action and picked out what we’ve learned this week.

1. It’s great to be back

After 18 months, we’re back and seeing so many fans in the respective arenas up and down the country certainly put a smile on our face.

The players need the energy behind them to drive them, plus for so many, the social element plays a big part in supporter’s lives so it’s great to see it return after so long away.

The songs, the cheers, the gasps of astonishment.  It shows why sport, not just ice hockey, needs fans in buildings.  We know why they couldn’t be, but let’s hope it’s here to stay.

Guildford’s Jake Bolton was on target for on-song Flames at the weekend (PHOTO: John Uwins)

2. Flames on fire

Guildford coach Paul Dixon spoke of making relative widespread changes to his team after so many departures and retirements from his last full team in 2019/20.

But two wins from two against Coventry Blaze in their opening Challenge Cup games is a great start, when you consider how good Danny Stewart’s men were before the pandemic.

Six points in two games from Brett Ferguson and five for Levi Cable is a terrific start, but is it a message for the season ahead from the Flames?

Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers played out a split weekend in terms of sharing wins (PHOTO: Derek Black)

3. No two nights will be the same

We saw pre-season games involving Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers, Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers and Cardiff Devils and Manchester Storm that may well reflect the season ahead.

While the Devils were the only team to win their two games, they did it in quite different circumstances, thrashing Storm 8-1 on Saturday then sneaking past them in overtime on Sunday.

The other games saw split weekends with one team winning one night the other winning the other so if this is to be a reflection of the season ahead, we’re in for a treat.

Braehead Arena appeared in TV show Vigil at the weekend (PHOTO: BBC)

4. Glasgow Hurricanes

Glasgow Clan may be weeks away from hitting the ice, but their home arena in Braehead probably attracted a bigger TV audience when it featured in BBC drama Vigil on Sunday.

Hosting fictional team, the Glasgow Hurricanes, one of the detectives was at the arena investigating a line of enquiry, to the delight of the hockey-starved Clan fans when it appeared on screen.

So what did we learn?  It looks far better when there’s fans in the place, making it quite the venue hockey night.  Not long to go.

5. Goals galore

Basingstoke Bison flew out of the traps in their opening Autumn Cup weekend games, beating Telford Tigers 6-3 on Sunday after shutting out Peterborough Phantoms 6-0 the day before.

With 12 goals on the board already, that’s five more than Leeds Knights, who also got off to a flier by thrashing Bees 7-1 on Saturday.

It’s an impressive start by two teams who were well off the pace by the end of the 2019/20 season and with experienced Elite League campaigners in Ashley Tait and Dave Whistle in charge, it could be an interesting few weeks.

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