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1993-1994
 

Flames made a positive start to their first full season in the Spectrum, but the rest of their debut season in the British League was nothing, if not dramatic.  After topping their conference of the English League in 92-93 things were a lot tougher.

With over half the winning team returning Mike Urquhart's job of boosting the team numbers was a little easier.  He bought in three new imports; ex- NHL draft pick Paul Thompson, Rob Friesen and Ryan Campbell, who all knew each other from their days at the University of Manitoba.  In those days if an import had been in the country for ten years he was referred to as reclassified or dual national, which generally meant that that player had been trained in Canada but spent so long here in Britain, he had settled. Darrin Zinger was one such player to fall into this category, when he also returned on defence.  Having used the three imports and two dual-national spaces available, Urquhart padded out the defence with former Slough powerhouse Gary Cloonan and then mixed the experience of the Leggatt brothers and Barrie Aisbitt with the enthusiasm of Billy Rawles and other local trained juniors up front.

Flames made history on 17 October 1993 when, ladies GB team member, Gillian Barton dressed as the back-up netminder.  She was the first female player to be involved in a British League match although she did not get to ice.

There was a little hint to the casual onlooker of the crisis, both on and off the ice that was to come.  Flames made a good run in the season's opening Autumn Trophy which only ended when they lost a quarter final replay with Lee Valley Lions, after the notorious 'overtime, what overtime?' 16-16 two-leg tie.  Results continued in Flames' favour until Christmas, with the Flames keeping in touch with established Southern Conference sides like Medway and Romford.  Then the decline began, first star netminder Danny Thompson, was called up for GB u21's in Denmark.  It worsened when import followed import onto the treatment table and Flames' lost eight of their ten league games in January. They appeared to have regained control when Thompson recorded two shut-outs in as many weeks to open February and the British contingent of players found the form to back up their overseas team-mates.

But in the first weeks of March the true picture of the financial problems that had been simmering since the withdrawal of Pepsi Cola's sponsorship in the autumn exploded, as the players threaten to strike over their unpaid wages.  Club owner Barry Dow at first denied there was a problem but the management eventually thrashed out a deal with players that ensured their schedule was completed.

Worried fans rallied for the players, with everything from donating time to promote the team up and down Guildford High street to putting food parcels together and helping with paying bills. The fact that Flames had drawn near capacity crowds for most of the season also helped to meet the players expenses, but with players having amenities such as gas and electricity cut off thing, it was a very worrying time for the future of hockey in Guildford. It was now that John Hepburn stepped forward to assist the players with their fight.  A father of 4 boys all in the Flames' development programme, he had befriended Ryan and Paul and with his business experience was able to advise them on the best way to keep the team alive.  Later that summer John became the Chairman of SportFact Ltd, the future owners of the Guildford franchise.

Apart from netminder Thompson, Flames got fine performances from his import name sake Paul, a versatile defence man with a lethal blue line slapshot and a reputation for hard hits that preceded him around the league and Friesen who averaged two goals a game despite his injury hit season. When Campbell wasn't working to save the team he was dependably found setting up goals to become Flames' highest scorer.  Flames finished the league in fifth position in the Southern Conference, tenth overall but missing both promotional and relegation play-offs.

League Table
Division 1 North  GP PTS  GF  GA 
Milton Keynes Kings 44 38 6 0 76 485 233
Telford Tigers 44 34 5 5 73 452 252
Blackburn Hawks 44 24 14 6 54 373 284
Trafford Metros 44 24 17 3 51 392 335
Paisley Pirates 44 20 21 3 43 412 368
Solihull Barons 44 13 27 4 30 313 369
Dumfries Vikings 44 11 28 5 27 336 444
Oxford City Stars 44  1 41 222  743 
Division 1 South  GP W L T PTS GF GA
Slough Jets 44 35 6 3 73 433 231
Romford Raiders 44 27 12 5 59 328 235
Medway Bears 44 25 16 3 53 309 237
Swindon Wildcats 44 20 20 4 44 373 325
Guildford Flames 44 19 23 2 40 293 308
Lee Valley Lions 44 14 29 1 29 330 451
Streatham Redskins 44  11  31  24  222  344 
Chelmsford Chieftains 44  10  32  22  260  374 

Player Stats
Player GP G A PTS PIMS
Ryan Campbell 53 84 131 215 54
Rob Friesen 46 99 85 184 32
Paul Thompson 51 43 67 110 131
Darrin Zinger 44 27 24 51 45
Andy Sparks 47 30 18 48 29
Danny O'Hanlon 49 18 21 39 56
Barry Aisbitt 37 9 26 35 8
Mike Urquhart 42 12 19 31 34
Robert Koutny 5 10 6 16 4
Chris Leggatt 12 10 9 19 58
Billy Rawles 46 12 10 22 40
Gary Cloonan 51 7 8 15 67
Andy Leggatt 13 2 1 3 12
Steve Condren 18 12 
Chris Wilson  50  20 
Wayne Trunchion 
Peter Morley 
Dave Wilson 
Bobby Brown 
Rick Smith 

Netminder Mins  SOG  GA  SV %  SO GAA 
Danny Thompson 2793 n/a n/a n/a 2 6.70 
Mike Kellond 240  133  16  87.97  4.00 
Mike Shead 147  85  27 68.24  11.02 
Gillian Barton 0 0 0 0
Simon Drury 0 0 0 0
Mo Kadhim 0 0 0 0
Looking Back

GUILDFORD FLAMES ICE HOCKEY CLUB
Guildford Spectrum
Parkway, Guildford
Surrey GU1 1UP

Tel: 01483 452244

Sportfact Ltd t/a Guildford Flames Ice Hockey Club registered in England number 2936656
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