Ice hockey in St Andrews? The Saint spoke to Ollie Cutting to find out about the new club in town…
The Saint: How did the starting up of the club come about?
Ollie Cutting: I’ve played ice hockey since I was six and I came to this university knowing there wasn’t a club here. But because it’s such a cosmopolitan university I knew there’d be a certain number of North Americans and Scandinavians that would play the sport. I tried to raise awareness and it turned out there was a good number of guys who wanted to play.
TS: What’s the uptake been like?
OC: We have 25 paying members and the Facebook group has about 80, so a lot of those are fans or people who want to play next year but don’t have the equipment yet. I expect growth next year. But 25 is a good start and 19 of those are playing in Nationals this weekend.
TS: What does the Nationals tournament involve?
OC: It’s organised by the British Universities Ice Hockey Association (BUIHA). They run a number of competitions, including the league and Nationals at the end of the year. We were too late to enter the league, but we’re in the tournament taking place in Sheffield over the whole weekend and will play around six games.
TS: What have you been up to this season, with no league fixtures?
OC: We’ve been training once a week through in Dundee, which is pretty costly, with hiring the ice and transport. We tried to organise a game against RAF Leuchars, and [even though it didn’t happen] there’s the possibility of being in the Tedder Challenge [competition against RAF Leuchars over a variety of sports, like rugby and golf] next year. We’ve been happy without fixtures, because in training we’ve got enough guys to have games against each other.
TS: Nationals will be a new experience for all of you then?
OC: It will be. We are getting more used to playing together. Ice hockey has a line system, and we’ve formed into lines already through training. So it should work out, but it’s going to be a bit strange playing those first games.
TS: How have you financed the club?
OC: Our sponsorship total is £2900, mainly from Stuff Creative, but also from MDDC, Wowee Speakers and LBC Incorporated.
TS: What are your plans for establishing the club next year?
OC: Right now we’re working on affiliation with the Athletic Union, which is looking good, I think we’ve fulfilled their quota so to speak. Hopefully we can then expand in terms of members and then join the league. We have to think about that over the summer, as there’s only one other team in Scotland – Edinburgh – and they play in the northern English division, so quite a lot of travelling and even more for us. We’ll look into holding a Varsity game with Edinburgh. If there are enough numbers maybe we can split into A and B teams, and enter competitions like Nationals, the Tedder Challenge and Spring Cup. But I would like to be in the league, I think it would be good for the club.
TS: Finally, what is it about ice hockey that you enjoy most and drives you to keep on playing?
OC: It’s just such a fast game. It’s quite hard to sell it to someone who’s never played. It’s just the feeling of skating faster than running and I think it’s a great game, it’s got everything. It’s a shame interest in the UK is low, we should get more youngsters involved.