Continental Nottingham

Some exciting news for the Nottingham Panthers today as it was revealed this afternoon in Hungary that the NIC will be hosting the second round of the IIHF Continental Cup from 18th – 20th October 2013 (LINK). Joining Panthers in the round robin tournament will be HYS The Hague from Holland, Juniors Riga from Latvia & the qualifiers from Group A who play in September in Belgrade, Serbia.

Panthers Chairman Neil Black has been instrumental in bringing the tournament to Nottingham, attending the meeting in Budapest today. It is part of his ambition for Panthers to be more involved in European competition as revealed in this article in the Nottingham Post earlier in the week. I have never been one to entertain the idea of Panthers competing full-time in a European League like a small minority of my fellow fans. I don’t believe it would be beneficial for us, especially considering the costs involved not only for the team but the fans. Also, the lack of a genuine rival a la Sheffield I feel would hurt us, however tournaments like the Continental Cup and a ‘Champions League’ style completion as set out in the Post article could be accommodated alongside our domestic responsibilities.

I feel it is really important that the games have large attendances so the ticket pricing has to be right. Six Panthers games in the Elite league would cost in the region of £100 for individual adult tickets. This would be far too expensive for the tournament in my opinion, I feel a maximum of £60 for an adult ticket for the six round-robin games (£10 per game) is enough, cheaper if possible. Having worked so hard to secure the tournament at the NIC it would be a real shame if there were swathes of empty seats due to high ticket prices. It is imperative that the cost is pitched at the right level, especially as this will be a rare that a vast majority of Panthers fans will have to watch the team in a tournament such as this.

From a hockey point of view, this gives the Panthers a great chance of qualifying for the next round in Asiago, Italy by having home advantage. While some have bemoaned the fact that hosting the tournament has taken away the chance of a weekend away in Europe, there is no reason to believe that we can’t make the next round in Italy or beyond. The ambition should be to reach January’s final in Rouen, France. If the team is as good as last year’s treble winners, there’s a real possibility we could make it to the Super Final. Let’s enjoy the ride.

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