The Rise of Ice Hockey in Britain in recent years

When you think of British sport it is football, rugby and cricket that come to mind. However, Ice hockey has been on a surge in recent years, which is no surprise. It is truly a great spectacle for those attending, and this is why it has been one of the most popular sports in the United States for some time. This is due to the fast paced drama and incredible atmosphere that is experienced at a professional ice hockey game.

In the UK, Ice hockey is experiencing a vast rise in popularity according to the EIHL, with live attendances at an all time high. It is also now the most watched indoor sport in Britain, and has risen to the third most popular winter sport, behind just football and rugby. It is difficult for the sport to be driven into people at a young age, as of course it is not played in schools across the country. This then limits the sport partly, but could this change in the future?

One of the leading sides in the UK are the Sheffield Steelers who are owned by Tony Smith, who is renowned for his impact on the rise of the sport in recent years in Britain. He was Sheffield born and is also now the EIHL chairman, and has been behind the rise of the club from 2011, in which the club was in receivership and really struggling. Since then they have picked up two Elite league titles in 2015 and 2016, and continue to prove a popular selection amongst punters using offers on The Steelers have also been established since 1991, so are a relatively new club.

The National hockey league in North America is the most popular division in the world, and this is what the UK scene has looked to take inspiration from. They have sell-out crowds in excess of 20,000 fans, which rivals many other of the biggest sports in the country. So why is this? It is the incredible atmosphere of the fast paced games, the lights, the music, and of course the beers and hot dogs on offer. This is now being pushed on the UK audience, and is only going to continue to grow in the coming years.

What needs to change is embedding ice hockey into the sporting culture of the UK, which is something that will take a lengthy period of time to achieve. This in comparison to the likes of the US, Canada, Russian, Sweden and even Kazakhstan, in which ice hockey is a major sports in each country. There is little doubt that it is exciting times for Ice hockey in Britain as the sport continues to go from strength to strength.


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