When you lose your team
Whalers. Nordiques. Raiders.
All three have similar things in common. There's no more hockey.
Even though the Wolfpack and Ramparts are entertaining fans - it is not the case for the Raiders.
The team I signed for this year, Wightlink Raiders, were effectively pushed off the Ryde Pier. Without knowing we were told our arena was seized back by BNY Mellon & AEW and that we'd have to find an alternative building.
Ice hockey in the UK - there's not many rinks.
Without a rink on the IOW made it realistically impossible to be a travelling team. So, we passed out this weekend with a final two game stint.
Now for players this sucks. The team was probably one of the best group of guys in a locker room I've been apart of. Lifelong friends all playing together...and winning. Things were good. But, life goes on and we all find new teams.
But, the fans.
This was their Saturday night.
This was their winter past time.
This was their entertainment.
This was their team.
This was their life.
Come each September they would fill the stands and chant all the way till April. They would jump and sing, debate and argue, swear and cry. But, they would be there. They would welcome you with a smile. They would probably write something on the Hockey Forum.
I can not envision what the emotions of those fans were this weekend. How must they feel moving forward? Do they still like Hockey? What do they do on the weekend now?
On Saturday evening fans were in tears.
A young boy of 6 "What do you mean no more Raiders?"
So, thank you.
From everyone associated with the sport we all thank you. The fans. This is the toughest on you. We thank you for the years. The spent money. The jerseys you bought. The match night programs. The volunteering. The smiles. The wins. The loses. The bus trips. The boat trips.
As players we cherish those memories and without you we wouldn't be doing this.
This is the toughest on you and we salute you.