BLACKBURN Hawks are hoping to become English National Ice Hockey League record breakers on Sunday night to boost their bid to end a 22-year search for silverware.
Hawks entertain league champions Billingham Stars in the play-off final first leg hoping to become the first team in either the southern or northern league to break the 1,000 crowd barrier.
Having attracted up to 800 fans at the Blackburn Arena during the regular season, team manager Graham Lomax believes their bid for glory can be aided by the Blackburn public.
He said: “The ENL North, which we are in, and the ENL South have never had more than 1,000 people. We have been getting between 600 and 800 and we are hoping to burst through that barrier.
“Traditionally we have always tried to put on a good night’s entertainment. We have added to that off ice with our resident mascot Harry the Hawk who is skating around. The teams are brought out to
flashing lights and smoke. It is a fantastic night’s entertainment.
“We have now got a resident DJ. All in all it is a fantastic night’s entertainment. In terms of what Rovers and other clubs are doing, they are not cheap. For us it is £6 for an adult normally. We
have reduced those prices on Sunday to £4 for adults and £2 for children and we are hoping to break the 1,000 spectator barrier.”
After ending their league campaign in third place, Hawks beat last season’s champions Whitley Warriors, who came second in the league this year, 11-7 on aggregate to book their place in the final.
And now, despite facing champions Billingham, Lomax is confident his men can come out on top over a two-legged final.
He said: “The club has been going 22 years and unfortunately they have never been in with a glimpse of any silverware or trophies at all. It is exciting and we are all looking forward to it. We are
like kids at Christmas and let’s hope we get the result.
“In 22 years we have never come close so it is a big thing for us. A lot of work goes in behind the scenes that people don’t know about or see, a lot of time is given up free of charge.
“As far as I am concerned all the work I do off the ice is rewarded when I saw the product on there, I am quite confident in the players we have got.
“I am confident we have got the best squad we have had for a long, long time. The depth is there, the talent pool is there. In years gone by we have struggled with bodies and have been going to
places on Sunday night’s making numbers up.
“I suppose we are the underdogs. They finished top of the league, we finished third, But I also feel the momentum we had well help.
“We went on a 12-match unbeaten run and that gives us bags of momentum.
“Like any sport if you have got the crowd on your side it helps. In terms of putting this team back together next season, one of the carrots we can dangle in front of the players is there are not
any ice hockey clubs that can attract the crowds that we can. ”
* Tomorrow night’s final at Blackburn Arena faces off at 5.45pm.