TEAM boss Mark Kinder believes the on-ice success of Blackburn Hawks this season can only help with the future fortunes of the club – and is backing his men to bring some silverware back to the Arena next year.

Kinder’s men were beaten on aggregate 7-5 by Billingham Stars on Sunday in the English National Ice Hockey League North One play-offs and while he admits to wondering what may have been after the pain of the loss in the North East, he is sure there can be a boost to the sport in the area as a result.

“It was disappointing to lose overall,” said the Hawks manager. “But if anyone had offered us a third-place finish in the table and a play-off final at the start of the season we would have bitten their hands off.

“I feel the game at Billingham hinged on a couple of refereeing decisions – but that is enough about that. You can’t dwell on that.

“But hopefully we can build on the season.

“The season is now over and we will have a nice break and make sure the lads have a nice break before we sit down with the Arena management to see where we can go for next season in as far as how we can build and possibly bring some more players in.

“With a bit of luck we will be able to keep the majority of this year’s squad and if we can do that and carry on where we have left off I don’t see any reason why we cannot win some silverware next season.”

There is a feelgood factor atthe Arena at the moment and the first leg of the play-off was watched by a record crowd of more than 1,200 and regular big crowds.

“We have been getting an average of between 600 and 650 for home games at the Arena,” said Kinder.

“That is the best in our division and better than some in leagues above us.

“A lot of credit must go to Alan Amos, who has really driven the promotion of the club.

“People also like what they see. You rarely get a boring game of ice hockey, there is always something happening.

“And the fans can get close to the players. It’s not like Premier League football where you go and see the team from a distance and if you are lucky you might get a wave off the players at the end.

“With ice hockey the players mix with the fans after matches - it makes it different.”