Storming back into town: Manchester ice hockey franchise return 13 years on

Manchester Storm this week announced their first pre-season matches following their return, 13 years after the original team closed due to financial problems.

The Storm’s first game will be the pre-season challenge game at home to Nottingham Panthers on August 29, followed by the visit of the Sheffield Steelers on September 2.

The fixtures were agreed during a meeting this week when members of the Elite Ice Hockey League discussed the schedule for the upcoming season, with league and cup fixtures yet to be announced.

Mark Johnson, Director of The Ice Rink Company, announced the Storm’s return earlier this week, promising a bright future for Mancunian ice hockey fans.

Johnson, who will lead the Manchester Storm Organisation, said: “Whilst it is sad to see the demise of the Hull Stingrays, a team with a long history of competitive hockey, it is a fantastic opportunity to be able to resurrect Elite League Ice Hockey in the North West.

“The Manchester Storm were a legendary team in British Ice Hockey and it is both humbling and inspiring that we are able to play a part in the continuation of that legend.”

The team will take the place of the Hull Stingrays in the Elite Ice Hockey League’s northern conference, named the Gardiner Conference, following their liquidation.

Games will be played at the Silver Blades Ice Rink in Altrincham, also known as the Ice Dome, which was previously home to the Manchester Phoenix.

The Phoenix, who formed following The Storm’s collapse in 2002, are now looking for a new home after parting ways with the Ice Dome.

Johnson promised that The Storm would become a strong team and brand, one which would make a commitment to community work.

He said: “Going forward it is our intent to provide North West Hockey fans with a team that can entertain, inspire and challenge for silverware.

“Through strong, creative marketing aligned with a comprehensive community programme the Manchester Storm will become one of the most recognised ice hockey brands in the UK and become embedded within the sporting environment of Greater Manchester and the surrounding area.

“The Manchester Storm are going to set new standards in ice hockey in the North West on and off the ice and we look forward to welcoming the Elite Ice hockey League to Altrincham.”

The Ice Dome houses several teams already, including the Altrincham Aces, who compete in the third tier National Ice Hockey League, and the Trafford Tornados Junior Ice Hockey club.

Once they are up and running, The Storm will become part into the Ice Hockey BTEC in Sport run by Widnes Wild.

The course, run in partnership with Warrington Collegiate, is aimed at passionate ice hockey fans who want to play, coach, or officiate the game.

To find out more, follow the Manchester Storm on Twitter at @Mcr_Storm.

Image courtesy of stormhistory via YouTube, with thanks.

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