By Sanjeev Mann
ICE hockey in Scotland has dramatically grown over the past few years and mainly thanks to the Braehead Clan and their huge success.
In their 2014-15 season, the Clan were inches away from winning the Elite Ice Hockey League which hosts the 10 best teams in the UK.
And the squad also qualified for the Champion’s Hockey League, which is hockey’s equivalent to the UEFA Champions League.
On the back of this popularity of the sport has boomed, and the Clan often sell out the Braehead Arena which has a capacity crowd of more than 3000.
There is also the Scottish National League, which is a division of non-professional teams in Scotland. and there are 14 teams including Aberdeen, and Kilmarnock Storm. These are the teams, which youngsters develop in.
Today uwsnewsroom spoke to Andrew Brown, a Kilmarnock Storm player on the development of young players and the boost the Braehead Clan has given to ice hockey.
When asked about the pathways that young players may take, he explained: “At the moment there are a lot of junior teams in Kilmarnock. You’ve got loads of different age levels from 10 to 20s. The only place for them to progress is recreational hockey or the Scottish National League. The next level up from that is professional. The Storm is the next level for any junior rank who wants to progress.”
When it comes to the general development of ice hockey in Scotland, Andrew feels the Clan has been a great help.
He said: “I think Braehead Clan have been excellent on getting ice hockey back on the map again. It’s a shame the Braehead Clan are up in Glasgow, because it really originated from the Ayr Eagles.
“Ayr’s always been very ice hockey orientated town and I think ice hockey is more popular than football here. We had the Ayr Eagles, who moved up to Braehead and then the Clan formed.
“More and more people I speak to are getting right into ice hockey. I know at least four guys that have given up football, for ice hockey.”
He also feels the recent popularity is down to more and more families attending ice hockey as he believes that sport has more of a family atmosphere than football.
He added: “It’s strange but even though there’s fighting and it’s more aggressive, it’s more of a family atmosphere. I went to the Scotland versus England game at Celtic Park and the swearing is ridiculous. I think I learned a few swear words off the youngsters behind me.
“It’s more of a family event with some of the things they do. You’ve got half time entertainment, the mascot Clangus, and you can also get a beer too. My family love going down to the Braehead Clan games.”