An end of season 4-2 home victory over a lowly side rarely means that much but for the Manchester Phoenix it meant everything. It was the EPL front runners chance to take the league title. A massive achievement in itself but one that means so much more for the Manchester Phoenix club and for Manchester ice hockey.
It is a victory that puts to bed the ghosts of the early 2000’s caused by the sudden and dramatic death of one of europe’s most popular clubs. The Manchester Storm in 2002. Just 3 years after winning the super league title. The Manchester Phoenix club were born out of those ashes and this league title means that they can now forge there own history.
Whilst it is not a top flight title, ice hockey in the Uk is no longer the free spending sport of the past where just cash means prizes. And this should be a long period of growth that will put Manchester back on the hockey map. As owner Neil Morris after the game, ‘we have never had as many sponsors.’
A drive into the rink car park at the game tells you it is a big night. There isn’t a space to be had and jerseys form a steady stream from the metro station. Even the building works give a buzz that something is happening here.
And in the grander sense it is. Youngsters are slowly but surely coming through the ranks and attendence figures are rising. However the Phoenix revolution is not just happening on the ice. Those building works are the clearing of the site that will house the team in a purpose built permanent rink.
Even though there is a lot of optimism this night and rightfully so. There are sections of the Phoenix fans that seem to have lost there ambition. The success at EPL level appears to have clouded some fans view of the direction of the club. No longer do those fans have the vision of being a top club but seem to be happy being successful on a small scale.
I hope those fans will see this victory and league title as the first step on the long road to becoming a powerhouse again but this time a sustainable one.
After all the stage is now set for the team to acheive and go on to bigger and better things.