A SEASON IN REVIEW
This year can definitely be described as one of two halves, nobody could have predicted the start we got off to, which gave us the longest home winning streak in recent times in Hull. The rink became a fortress, we beat every team that came through the doors and the hockey we were playing at that time was sublime. The fans came in their droves to watch and the City of Culture was seeing a successful team who were showing all the signs of one that would be competing for, if not winning, silverware in just the second season of the organisation. In Head Coach Dominic Osman we had one of the winningest coaches in the history of hockey in Hull and there was a real feel good factor around the place.
As the season drew on changes were made to the roster, some more controversial than others, but all were for the betterment of the team. As is often the case some changes have been more successful than others, but the organisation stands by all of the decisions that have been made. Along with the changes were injuries to key players, with the most significant being to Jason Hewitt whose broken collar bone ruled him out of playing for the rest of the season. Sometimes, through adversity, comes opportunity. This is precisely what happened with Jason, Dominic Osman stepped down as Head Coach to concentrate on the business side of the organisation with Hewitt replacing him in the role.
Things really haven’t gone the way we would have liked them to in the latter half of the year, but that is hockey for you. At times we have been our own worst enemy and haven’t helped ourselves whatsoever. That been said, there are a lot of positives to be taken from this season, we have achieved all of our targets for this year, including reaching the cup semi-final and making it in to the post-season, and showed that we have a sustainable business model in Hull developed from an ethos of living within our means. This is very much an organisation which will grow year on year, we will learn from this season and we will come back much stronger for it.
This season has also been a season where certain players within the team have definitely come of age. Stand out years from the likes of Lee Bonner, Jordan Fisher, Ugnias Cizas, Andrej Themar and, in particular, Jonathan Kirk have been something that everybody can be proud of. JK has shown a level of professionalism that junior players should aspire to and should be seen as a role model within the British game.
Hull has a reputation as having some of the most loyal, vocal and enthusiastic fans in any league in British hockey. This season has been no exception, you have been magnificent week in week out. You have been there when we were beating all comers and you’ve been there through the tough times as well. That is where you see, and are humbled by, the true feelings of your fan base. It is easy to support and follow a winning team, it is much harder when the chips are down and things aren’t going your way. We cannot thank you all enough for your loyalty, investment and belief in us and our team.
Special thanks must also go to our fantastic off-ice team, without whom there would be no games. They conduct themselves impeccably week in, week out and provide, what we hope, is an enjoyable game night experience. We are an organisation who like to innovate and look at ways we can be different, the match night staff have bought into this every step of the way and for this we salute them.
The play-offs did not go as we, or you, had hoped, all we can do is apologise for not being at Coventry this weekend. We don’t propose to offer excuses, what we offer is a Summer of change which will produce results and compete for titles.
As we move towards rebuilding for next season it is easy to reflect on the past few months and dismiss the season as a failure. But it isn’t by any stretch, it wouldn’t give the entire context of the year and would be misleading, yes it hasn’t panned out exactly as we would have liked. But do you know what, there is a lot to be proud of and there are solid foundations in place to create something special here. It is easy to spend big for short term gain and instant success, it can be difficult take the path less trodden and develop something with sustainability and longevity. We are here for the long haul, we are here to win and we will achieve our dreams, and the fans expectations.