The EIHL's Manchester Storm are a new team in the United Kingdom's top league this season, and when you're the new kid on the block, you need to find some ways to get noticed.
The team, who were formed this season out of the ashes of the bankrupt Hull Stingrays and are the newest team in British hockey (although they're actually the reincarnation of a franchise that played in the late 90's and early 2000's in Manchester and once held the record for the highest ice-hockey attendance in Europe) were visited by National Geographic recently, and NatGeo decided to use a drone to fly around the ice and film them in practice. The outcome is pretty neat, and it allows us to see hockey from an angle not often used. Plus, it's not as wobbly as those camera-on-a-line things that the Caps were using earlier this year. Check it out:
Highlights of the video are a lovely Datsyukian deke from former ECHLer (and normally a stay-at-home defenceman) Mike Folkes (#4), a little donnybrook in front of the net and a few fancy finishes from the team's star forward Matt Caria, ex of the ECHL's Kalamazoo Wings.
As you may now, Chowder has its own spy in the UK (Paul) and he tells us the Manchester Storm are an awesome story, actually. You remember the Giants from when the Bruins played there 5-6 years ago before the 2010-11 season? Well..they had a fan called Neil Russell who was part of a podcast/blog team there and also a commentator on British TV's coverage of live Elite League games...until he was asked by the ownership to become the Manchester Storm's General Manager, and was basically given the task of building a franchise from the ground up in six weeks.
He's succeeded beyond everybody's expectations - the Storm sold out their rink for the first time over Christmas half a season after starting play from scratch, and have made it through to the Challenge Cup Semi Finals (British hockey places a lot more emphasis on league and cup titles than playoffs, because of the football heritage of the country - indeed, you can win the POs in Britain with the same number of wins it takes to win a playoff series in the NHL - four) while competing against bigger and far more established teams with far bigger budgets.
A lot of this rapid growth has been down to PR efforts like this-the kind of thing that's not seen often in Britain or indeed much in the world.
Incidentally, the Storm also did their own version of "Let It Go" this Christmas. And, as a Bruins blog, we're probably duty-bound to say they did it better than the Habs did:watch.0.html
But that's all immaterial-we're still watching that first video.
DRONES! WATCHING HOCKEY!
It's the future.