Shaun Drummond writes about how attending Panthers has led to further involvement in the game at grass roots level.
I am approaching my 10yr anniversary of first watching the Nottingham Panthers and feel that I may be able to provide a slightly different perspective on our current situation.
My first experience, like many fans, was via the Christmas games against the Steelers and thanks to Neilson, Kowalski and Clarke the impact on our family was a very positive one. As we started to attend more regularly the attraction of Ice Hockey started to increase and work it’s magic. More games attended, more trophy celebrations, more favourite players. Skate with the Panthers, game day puck drops and playoff wins all experienced in a few short years.
What impact did this have on a family who knew little about Ice Hockey in 2009? Well we now boast a youth player going into his 5th year playing the game with his mum as manager of the team and his step dad as a level 1 coach.
Ice Hockey is a virulent infection that none of us can shake off and, despite the down moments that come along with any competitive sport, don’t want to. It’s given us so much, from the thrill of playing and watching to the anticipation of future games for both our Sutton Sting team and the Panthers.
So let’s not forget the pure pleasure of watching the best sport in the world. Anyone with any experience will tell you about cycles in professional sport (see the recent article comparing the Panthers with Man Utd). The Corey Nielsen era was amazing for Nottingham and it will take time to get back to anywhere near that level. Changing up to 60% of your squad every season and this year brining both rookie Head Coach and Director of Hockey makes it incredibly difficult to perform and win straight away. This season will be an exercise in being patient! So let’s go to the NIC with a different perspective and appreciate the opportunity to watch some great hockey (even if it’s from our opponents).
If you can’t stomach that then there are some great games to be seen at Nottingham and Sheffield in the U18s, U20s and NIHL leagues (watch out for Sutton Sting!).
Our family has certainly felt the benefit of involvement in our local team and it all started with a trip to watch the Panthers!