Earlier this week we here at Five For Howling decided that since there was no NHL hockey and scant Phoenix Coyotes news to cover we should adopt a foreign team and cover them. Many of us know little to nothing about the European leagues, so this should be a fun learning experience. Instead of us picking a team, we decided to take suggestions, and let you, the faithful readers pick the team you want us to cover. And your choice was the English Premier Ice Hockey League's Manchester Phoenix.
Voters seemed to connect with the Phoenix, not just because of the name, but because they remind us so much of our beloved Coyotes. They don't play in what we would consider a traditional market, they play well and are currently leading their league, they don't have a lot of star power, they are not the big team in their marketplace, and we don't have to go through the process of learning Russian to read about the team.
In 2003, the Elite Ice Hockey League was formed after the demise of the Ice Hockey Superleague with the Manchester Phoenix as one of the 8 founding members. The team is a result of a group known as Friends of Manchester Ice Hockey's efforts to bring hockey back to Manchester after the Ice Hockey Superleague's Manchester Storm, a team with its own rich history, folded the year before.
Originally, the Phoenix played in the MEN Arena but the arena proved to be much financially. This lead to the construction of the Altrincham Ice Dome in 2006. It's easy to see why the team had difficulties in their former home. The Manchester Arena can fit more than 17, 600 people for an ice hockey game. while the newer arena has a capacity of 2,000, which is more fitting for the team. On April 30, 2009 the team joined the English Premier Ice Hockey League.
The Phoenix are playing extremely well this season. They are leading the English Premier League with 16 points. It's tough competition though, the Slough Jets and Basingstoke Bison are only one point behind them and the Jets have played 2 fewer games. If you want more information about the Phoenix they have a YouTube channel and a weekly podcast.
Until the lockout ends, and maybe even after depending on how well this coverage is received, we will be covering the Phoenix in their quest to be League and Playoff Champions.