I'd followed Ice Hockey in an indirect way since being a kid, but with the complete lack of coverage (outside of the Winter Olympics) here in the UK I had never developed a love for a specific NHL team - mainly just playing on the Megadrive and N64 games! After a trip to Florida on a family holiday I started to follow the Rangers a little, simply as they were the only team I'd seen live (aside from the Bolts, but even I wasn't that naive!).
In July 1995 the Manchester Storm (information here) were created to play out of the brand new Nynex (now Manchester Evening News) Arena in the heart of the city and after much nagging my parents took me to my first game. That, as they say, is history and from then on I loved hockey. We had season tickets for all the following seasons (sadly Storm folded in 2002 for financial reasons) and then in 1997 Kurt Kleinendorst (interview with him here) took over as head coach and from humble beginnings Storm quickly became a respected force in the fledgling European Hockey League, despite playing teams with budgets triple (or more) theirs from respected hockey nations such as Sweden, Finland and Russia.
They remain the only British side currently represented with a Jersey in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
I then started to follow the Devs in 2001 when coach Kleinendorst left Manchester to become the Devils assistant coach. I fell in love with the honest and hardworking style of hockey played by the Devs that so many are quick to complain about. It seemed like they were an average joe's team with none of the flashy glam of some of the more high profile sides and so I've followed them ever since.
I've stuck it out trying to watch the Devs online via NHL.com and despite the games only starting at 12:30am here I've managed to catch two of the Canes series so far. I also managed to make it to the Rock in January for my first Devils game. After backbacking around the world for ten months I was just 10days from home when I made it to Jersey for the game... 10 months of waiting for this moment came and went in a splutter as the Thrashers shut us out 4-0. Devastated wouldn't begin to describe how I felt.
Well, that's my story anyway. I've still to see Marty play live, and that's something I intend to correct one day. If only I'd been quick enough to see Scott Stevens play I'd be a much happier man.
AckeyMember Since 22 Apr 2009
Offline Last Active Jul 27 2009 02:31 PM