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1997-1998
 

After three seasons of failing to live up to their potential Flames' were half way through their 5-year plan and crunch time was approaching. For the second season in a row the management trekked up the M4 in search of a coach, this time welcoming Stan Marple, fresh from his all conquering season with the Swindon IceLords.

Marple's first move was to retain long-serving defence men Paul Thompson and Terry Kurtenbach, and forward Ryan Campbell.  Darrin Zinger returned for what turned out to be the last full season in his illustrious British career.  After them came the firepower, Barcley Pearce, another to make the journey from Wiltshire, and new to this country, Southern Premier League's highest scorers Mike Harding (also 9th in the National League scorers) and Pete Kasowski.  Rugged defence man, Scott Adair, who came direct from Alberta's University, accompanied them.  Some female fans shed a tear as heart-throb utility player Nick Rothwell left after just 12 games to pursue a career as a Sky TV colour commentator and yes that did include interviewing spectators of the Fish-a-mania angling competition.

With the framework in place, Marple then focused on talent already in this country.  Jamie Organ jumped Slough's ship, and young British goalie Simon Smith joined from Medway Bears, both men topped the netminding tables for the National League and Premier League respectively. The role call of young British talent resembled something from the GB junior who's who, as Anthony Page and Andrew Einhorn signed from Basingstoke and Rob Lamey, Joe Johnston, and Jason Moses all made the jump from Flames' own junior development programme to full time spots on the team. The Plant brothers, Rick and Russ, were reunited with each and coach Marple, who they appeared to work so well with.   The Contributions made by all these players were influential in securing the championship.  Yet, not surprisingly, the squad was dubbed Team Canada and their young talent was unfortunately snubbed in the All-Star selections (selected by the BNL coaches).

Winning became a habit for Flames.  Although choosing not to defend their Benson and Hedges Plate Title, other titles soon came Flames' way as the team not only completed the treble (Southern Premier League, National League and Play-offs) but also bridged the gap between ISL and BNL.  Flames' made history with challenge game wins over Basingstoke Bison (2-1) and Nottingham Panthers (6-3) being the first ever defeats inflicted on Superleague teams by a British team from outside their league.  

Speedy forward, Kirk Humphreys, joined at the start of the Christmas Cup, the only competition silverware available that they did not win, in which Flames lost to Telford on aggregate in the final.  Campbell celebrated Christmas by scoring his 500th point whilst Lamey and Johnston received call -ups for the GB under 21's tour of Estonia. By the end of the festive break Brian Mason had also come on board, and the squad were set to defend their top spot in both leagues as they recommenced the league.  They did so passionately, winning both National and Southern Premier Leagues comfortably by February.  

With nine playoff wins from ten matches, they were favourites for the clean sweep.  Telford was disposed of in a nerve racking 5-3 Semi, (Pete Kasowski missing the game in favour of being at the birth of his first child) then Kingston in the pale by comparison 5-1 final.  The Surrey side could finally call themselves champions, with proud management and fans looking on.

Flames' held their first testimonial match this year, as Darrin Zinger retired from a full time role within the sport to turn his hand at banking or law.  Gary Stefan, Steve Moria and Wayne Crawford were among the list of old friends who turned out for Darrin's night of tribute, partly to celebrate the full recovery Darrin had made from testicular cancer. 

League Table
British National League              
Northern Conference GP  PTS  GF  GA 
Fife Flyers 16  13  27  129  65 
Kingston Hawks  16  10  23  101  65 
Paisley Pirates  16  19  94  59 
Murrayfield Royals  16  12  61  131 
Lancashire Hawks  16  13  73  138 
Southern Conference  GP  PTS  GF  GA 
Guildford Flames** 16  14  28  118  41 
Slough Jets 16  18  84  51 
Telford Tigers  16  18  80  50 
Peterborough Pirates  16  17  99  70 
Cardiff Rage  16 16 0 23  192 

Trophies:
**Southern Conference Winners
**British National League Champions
British National League Playoff Champions

Player Stats
Player GP  PTS  PIMS 
Mike Harding 59  58  72  130  70 
Peter Kasowski  59  55  61  116  36 
Barclay Pearce  41  49  50  99  36 
Ryan Campbell 59  38  53  91  40 
Paul Thompson 56  20  29  49  84 
Terry Kurtenbach  50  12  36  48  42 
Kirk Humphreys  32  21  20  41  16 
Rick Plant  50  24  18  42  38 
Bobby Brown 58  18  20  38  161 
Rob Lamey  48  13  24  37 
Darrin Zinger 56  12  22  34  22 
Anthony Page 53  12  21  33 
Scott Adair  49  14  16  30  233 
Russ Plant 54 15  10  25  22 
Brian Mason  27  14  21  20 
Andy Einhorn  56  10  16  58 
Andy Hannah  22  12  68 
Nick Rothwell 12 
Stan Marple  16  20 
Peter Morley  39 
Joe Johnston  20 
Jason Moses 
Netminder Mins  SOG  GA  SV %  SO  GAA 
Jamey Organ 2097  959  86  91.03  2.46 
Simon Smith  1423  557  64  88.51  2.70 
Simon Lavis 20  100.00  0.00 
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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