Ice Hockey on the Internet

Ice Hockey is a sport well catered for on the Internet, but not on the main portals. News of who would be contesting this year's Benson and Hedges Cup final on Saturday at Sheffield Arena was hard won. Sky Sports has a weekly round-up of Ice Hockey Superleague action in the UK, which is useful, but no more than match reports and photos after the event.

Ice Hockey is a sport well catered for on the Internet, but not on the main portals. News of who would be contesting this year's Benson and Hedges Cup final on Saturday at Sheffield Arena was hard won. Sky Sports has a weekly round-up of Ice Hockey Superleague action in the UK, which is useful, but no more than match reports and photos after the event.

European Hockey Net came to the rescue. There was a report about the semis, complete with quotes, and the forthcoming final between London Knights and Manchester Storm. European Hockey Net does its best to do for individual European countries (and international contests) what the major sports sites do for NHL in the States - give the facts on the game with a splash of colour too.

However, whereas the American sites are backed by financial giants, this site is non-commercial and relies on volunteers from all over Europe to contribute. The Internet ethos of information wanting to be free is alive and well and working - which makes a pleasant change from the e-commercialisation that is becoming prevalent. The site is even free of banner ads.

The official sites, Manchester Storm Online and London Knights, offer all that official sites usually do with news, stats, packed archives and banner ads. Manchester has a high-bandwidth version with impressive Flash graphics and movies. London goes for a more traditional text-based delivery system.

Into The Storm and London Knights are unofficial sites offering alternatives/supplements to the official sites. Both display South Park design tendencies with graphics featuring the anorak-wearing Kenny. Both sites keep pretty much up to date and are good sources for news and gossip.

On the interactive front, Into The Storm boasts live updates from fans attending games using the text messaging facilities on their mobile phones, as well as the more traditional chat rooms and bulletin boards. They also run a request service for people who want to get a chant going, but do not have the bottle to try to start it off - e-mail the chant and one of the seasoned "Barmy Army" will give it a go and report back to the Website. London Knights make do with a bulletin board and a real-time chat room, but the latter is particularly quick and easy to use, you do not need to pre-register before getting access.

There is a Web ring of UK ice hockey sites containing 78 members. It is a good mix of fan sites devoted to league teams and pages posted by various associations - minor leagues and so forth. The sites can be visited either sequentially, each has links to the next and the previous in the ring, by random jumps or by browsing the annotated lists.

Site Addresses

Sky Sports http://www.skysports.co.uk/skysports

European Hockey Net http://www.eurohockey.net/uk/

Manchester Storm Online http://www.stormtv.com/

London Knights Official Site http://www.knightice.co.uk/

Into The Storm http://www.intothestorm.co.uk/

London Knights Unofficial Site http://www.solstice.dircon.co.uk/knights/

i-hockey: Webring UK http://nav.webring.org/cgi-bin/navcgi?ring=ukhockey;list;page=0

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