Thursday, 13 October 2016

Coventry Skydome - Coventry Blaze

Coventry Blaze 0-1 Fife Flyers

9th October 2016

The first ever ice hockey match I attended was between the Fife Flyers and Coventry Blaze, back in September 2011.  That had been the Flyers' first game following their admission to the Elite Ice Hockey League, and had been won by Coventry at a canter.  That the Blaze's most recent visit to Kirkcaldy had ended in a 4-1 defeat, perhaps gave an indication of how far the Flyers have progressed in the intervening years.

I am aware wins on the road can be notoriously difficult to come by in ice-hockey – I am not sure why, ice is ice surely – but the Flyers' recent good form meant I did pitch up at the Coventry Skydome Arena this evening, with at least a modicum of optimism.   

Well founded optimist it appeared, as Fife took the lead early on through Philip PAQUET just five minutes into the first period; taking advantage of the fact home player Shawn Boutin was serving a two minute suspension for the rather alarming-sounding indiscretion of “Slashing”.  

And it has to said Fife spent much of the remainder of the match on the back foot – particularly that tense second period, which they appeared to play for the most part serving out suspensions.

But the Flyers' defence, most notably the impressively bewiskered goaltender Shane Owen coped with everything thrown at them by their hosts.  According to the match stats (and I have no reason to dispute these) Owen succeeded in making a total of 41 saves during the tie.  One from Coventry's Ashley Tait late on was just breath-taking, whilst another stop appeared to be made with his throat!

The home players emerge from the mouth of this inflatable dragon at the bottom left of the picture.
As an entrance it probably just stayed the correct side of silly.

The Skydome Arena, Coventry

Todd and his Team.

The Skydome Arena, Coventry

Coventry Blaze v Fife Flyers - October 2016

Shane Owen - Fife Flyers

A variation on the puck game, had folks attempting to get one into the back of the wee car.

Shane showing what bit of his anatomy he made one save with.

Shane picks up his team-mates plaudits for his MoM award.

Time-up handshakes.

It was I suppose just a pity that Owen's virtuoso performance wasn't played out in front of his own supporters.  For I don't think, myself included, the number of visiting fans this evening would have reached double figures.  The few I saw were clustered together as if for warmth or safety.  It was quite a surreal moment when Paquet scored, to hear a larger cheer coming from the six Flyers on the ice, than from the smattering of away support.

Not that one could blame the good folks of Fife, of course.  Coventry and back is, after all, a long way to go to watch a single match.  I noted that Coventry Blaze had, I assumed requested, three away matches in Scotland over a single weekend later in the season, and that sensibly-priced transport and accommodation was being arranged for fans.  

I wondered why the Flyers did not similarly double-up on a number of their trips south.  This surely would encourage a few more fans to travel; making a weekend of things by combining visits to the Coventry with the likes of Nottingham or Sheffield.

Finally on the hockey - a bit of a moan.  I do appreciate printing a programme for every home fixture is not feasible, and I could understand our Blaze friends producing an October edition covering five matches.  But to charge £3 for a 44 page publication within which there was just an eighteen-line paragraph covering the Flyers current squad was just taking the piss.

The Skydome Arena, Coventry

Before pitching up at the Skydome, I had dropped into to take a look at Coventry Cathedral - the old one, not the new one.  The one which was bombed to ruins in November 1940, and more or less left that way as some sort of reminder of the pointlessness of warfare.  And quite a poignant memorial it made, I have to say.  I had hoped to visit the Blitz Experience exhibition or perhaps even climb the old tower, but both had closed early on this particular Sunday, as there was a bell-ringing session going on.  A fact it was impossible to ignore.

The new cathedral has been sort of bolted onto the side of the old one, but I refused to take any pictures of it as I hated everything about it - particularly some pointlessly triumphalist sculpture stuck onto the side which I took to be god or some saint or other trampling the devil underfoot - but could just as easily been seen to represent the Allied victory over the Axis powers in 1945.

So much then for Coventry branding itself the "City of Peace and Reconciliation".

Coventry Cathedral

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