Setting the Scene: Hull Pirates
by Ian Mowforth (@IMowforth)
THE SEASON THAT WAS
Supporters of the Hull / Humberside ice hockey teams are used to seeing their fortunes deteriorate endlessly. In 2015, the reformed club reborn from the ashes of another team that collapsed, restoring confidence that it had become the most cynical supporter group in the sport.
With regard to the 2017/18 campaign, much silver was expected until it was realized by an impressive team of Sheffield Steeldogs, who won the most deserved winners of the season. the Northern Conference.
In all fairness to the Pirates' doctor, Shane Smith, he persisted with the same coach and mostly native-born players for the 2018/19 campaign. However, at Christmas, key personnel injured, suspensions and the loss of an importer leave Hull adrift.
The signature of Sonny Karlsson, Lubomir Korhon and Kevin Phillips is essential to the rebirth of the Pirates. In a series of epic battles, Hull triumphs over rivals Telford and Sheffield, winning the Northern Conference and North Playoff titles.
The scene was then ready for an unexpected treble.
The Coventry playoff final was a heroic game where, after a fright against Bracknell, Hull met the Peterborough Phantoms.
The match was a stunt for the NIHL1 while Hull triumphed thanks to an amazing backup gain from Ash Smith and a goal from Bobby Chamberlain, but the hour hero was without a doubt, Sonny Karlsson.
The Tiny Swedish showed the example by writing two essential goals, a little after returning on ice, the lip sliced in half.
After 27 years of waiting since the last Hull / Humberside league success, Hull supporters, who have suffered for a long time, have not had a dry eye.
Hull is lucky to have lost only James Archer among his senior players in the UK, but recruiting new players has been difficult.
Supporters, who only three months earlier announced the success of Shane Smith, began to express their dissatisfaction with what was perceived as a tedious recruitment process.
Unperturbed, Shane, André Payette, Sales Manager, and Coach Hewitt kept their cool and wisely recruited until the first faceoff of the new season.
On paper, the team does not seem very different from last season, but the young Hull players are more mature and seasoned.
More painful still, replaces Karlsson and Korhon, two of the best players of the party the previous season.
Off the ice, Hull continues to improve, but such an embryonic club will inevitably suffer from youth problems, especially because of the higher expectations of fans.
The hiring of Peter Fabus and Olegs Sislannikovs by the Pirates, replacing their outgoing imports, is an intriguing activity.
Neither player offers what Korhon and Karlsson have delivered, but it is a more disturbing league requiring different talents.
Both players are new to the UK and will take time to settle, but they have an excellent pedigree and should succeed.
Where lies the strength of the player Pirates in the depth of GB talent. Few National League teams can compete with the devastating firepower of Jason Hewitt, Bobby Chamberlain and Matty Davies, a real match for all imports.
I expect the three to be among the league 's top scorers, but I think it' s a season where Lee Bonner will mature to become the player that a lot of people can do. others have anticipated.
Improvements in the media, forming innovative partnerships with colleges and local businesses, have given a refreshing boost, but like most teams in the new National League, there is a ruthless element of development.
Until all the teams have met, there is little chance that even the most knowledgeable experts predict the end of the 2019/20 season.
There is a perception that Pirates are fragile in defense, although it is not a theory based on statistics, it can not be denied that Hull is heavily focused on defense. ;offense; they are after all the most exciting team to watch under the LHEI.
Expecting assistant coach-player Kevin Phillips to become a remarkable D-man, particularly after being injured early in the campaign against the club's captain and fellow countryman, Jamie Chilcott.
It is also a year in which goalkeeper Ash Smith will continue his continuous improvement, despite his young age.
I never engage in predictions, but I expect the Hull Pirates to be somewhere above second place in the inaugural season of the National League.