Fans are ‘dearly missed’ as Solent Devils maintain 100 per cent start to Spring Cup campaign at Gosport’s Planet Ice
Solent Devils might have defeated MK Thunder to continue their perfect start in the NHL South Division 1 Spring Cup on a long-awaited return to Planet Ice - but head coach Alex Murray still felt there was something missing.
The Solent chief was saddened by the silence as his side recorded victory in an empty stadium with crowds not currently allowed to attend under lockdown restrictions.
Ralfs Circenis (2) and Richard Facey were the scorers as Solent Devils battled back from behind to run out 3-1 winners in what was their first home fixture for more than a year.
But for Murray, whose team top the Spring Cup table with two wins from as many matches, playing in an empty arena at their Gosport base was a sad 'noticeable' factor to take from the occasion.
He said: 'When you’re playing away from home it’s actually a benefit you haven’t got a crowd there. I feel you haven’t got the roars behind their team trying to give them momentum.
'It was very noticeable, personally, that there was no crowd there.
‘It’s a small rink at Solent and the supporters are very close to the ice and so you can hear and feel the atmosphere.
‘That support and feeling spurs you onto better things.
‘It was noticeable and all the supporters are dearly missed.'
Although unable to watch on from the stands, Solent's following were able to view from home through the newly-launched club streaming service.
Murray hailed the 'tireless' work of a team of volunteers who are making sure fans can at least get a piece of the Spring Cup action - even if it is through a screen.
And he was not surprised the free service proved to be a success.
He added: 'Our stream was really well received and I’m delighted for that.
‘My volunteer team worked tirelessly to make that happen, they’ve sacrificed a lot of evenings, time and money in buying equipment and practicing to ensure we exceeded expectations for our fans.
'We probably could have charged for the stream because we were confident in our ability but we didn’t feel that was right or necessary.
‘We do still ask people to support us through the GoFundMe page because it will help recoup some of the cost that we’ve had to invest in ensuring the experience the supporters got away from the rink was a good one.'
Devils host Haringey Huskies this coming Saturday (5pm).
To donate, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/solent-devils-live
Half of the cash raised will go to the NHS Charities Together fund. At present, over £500 has been donated.