The inaugural Sheffield Winter Classic may never hit the heights of its NHL namesake, but for those involved it’s a very special event in its own right.
Sheffield Spartans and Sheffield Senators are scheduled to face each other over Christmas for their first ever competitive game, and organisers are eagerly anticipating an evening they hope will showcase ice hockey in the city.
Lynn Faber, Spartans’ Team Manager, said: “Expectations, hopes and dreams, the future – this game is not just a game to all involved; it’s something special, something to build on and grow with.
“Sheffield has always had strong connections with their teams; it’s one of the things I love about the hockey and connection we have. Right from the days of Queens Road; everyone knew everyone and the family feel has been tangible.
“This game will bring some of that together with a game of hockey that will be a tough affair, with both teams wanting to hold the trophy for the first time. The buzz of excitement around the game, sharing on social media, the chatter around the rink, the ideas and agenda all coming together in the final stages of organisation is extremely exciting to be part of.
“Everyone involved has already done above and beyond what was discussed at our first meeting. Our target crowd of 500 supporters may have seemed like a pipe dream to some in the early days – now we feel it’s almost an understatement.
“Of course I’ll be looking for a Spartans win, but I’ve known the players from both teams for far too many years to remember and they’re all great lads. I personally can’t wait for the game. I’m excited, anxious and nervous – but as with everything, if you’re not you shouldn’t be doing it.
“For the future, I hope it’s a huge success and becomes an annual event at IceSheffield over the Christmas period. Let’s become something other teams and leagues talk about.
“Lynn’s counterpart at the Senators, Barbara Walker, added: “I’m very excited about the Winter Classic. It will be a great game of hockey played with true Sheffield passion – a passion that runs right through from the juniors up to our two senior teams.
“At the start of the season this fixture was on neither team’s calendar, but ever since it was agreed to play each other the expectations have been for a very competitive game.
“Looking at the two teams Spartans should be the favourites, but the Senators are having an exceptional season and if they continue playing with their true grit, determination and passion, anything can happen. We are a hustle quick and never quit team, but we are a family and this brings the best out of each other – we play with heart and as a team.
“There’s no limit to what can be accomplished and only the day will tell this, but I’m sure the fire will be burning in our boys bellies and we’ll go there for the win. As long as everyone goes out there, plays their best and enjoys the game, that’s all we can ask for. It promises to be a great game and one to enjoy for any ice hockey fan, regardless of which team they support.
“I just want everyone to enjoy the day and in that regard there can only be one winner – Sheffield Ice Hockey! A big thank you to everyone who has put their time and effort into organising this day, it will be great occasion.”
The Sheffield Winter Classic takes place on Saturday, 27 December. For further details please click here.