After an opening Elite League campaign that soared much higher than initial expectations, excitement heading to year two at the top flight was amplified with off season news of a strong contingent of returning players. All-Star Defencemen Jesse Craige and Calle Ackered each signed on for 2 more years as did another All-Star, and the league’s leading assist getter, winger John Dunbar. Joining them on multi-year pacts up the middle were Kruise Reddick and Brett Ferguson. After a career year, forward Ian Watters also agreed to return on a single year arrangement joining netminders Mike Will and Chris Carrozzi, GB national team forward Ben Davies, as well as a pair of British Blueliners in Jez Lundin and Kevin Phillips that set the core of the club that would continue on from the magical inaugural term. Looking to improve on the previous set, the Flames went to work on signing Canadian forward Kevin King who had nearly 70 points during his first Elite League stop at Milton Keynes Lightning. He was joined at the front by Americans Evan Ritt and Evan Janssen from French league Gap and ECHL outfit Rapid City Rush, respectively. Fresh off a Canadian university National championship, Jamie Crooks from University of Alberta also joined the front lines, as did a pair of Under 20 GB skaters, and former Guildford Jr. members, Richard Krogh and Joshua Waller. At the back, Spectrum’s men added AHL and ECHL veteran Corbin Baldwin, and Jordan Abt just off his first full season of pro hockey with Norfolk Admirals. The defensive unit was rounded out with experience from more than 200 Swedish Hockey League games and plenty of Elite League time when Erik Lindhagen was a late summer addition after a 2-year spell with Nottingham Panthers. Canadian netminder Travis Fullerton, just beyond a season with Dundee Stars, joined Carrozzi and Will to close out the netminding team.
After splitting the opening pair of Cup games with Coventry Blaze in early September, they finished the remainder of the month with another 3 wins and 3 defeats, including a 2nd split in cup action. Early in October, with fewer than 10 games in the books, former GB member Phillips was released from the club while an addition was added shortly after when Canadian skater TJ Foster, a U of A Golden Bear Alum, took up Flames colours after opening the campaign at Liiga side, Sport.
Mid October included a 3-game skid but 6 wins in the month made it a good run that also began the longest winning streak of the term when the Flames won 7 straight from October 21st through November 10th, including success in the Cup at League Champion Cardiff Devils, and wins over Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers. The 7-game streak was followed by a .500 record through the end of the season’s 3rd month but the real excitement began in mid-December when a 2nd place Challenge Cup table finish put Surrey’s men in Steelers’ direct path for a 2 game Quarter Final showdown. After tying the away leg in Sheffield 4-4, the Flames returned home a week later for a 5-4 win just ahead of Christmas to guarantee a semi-final slot; the first final 4 appearance in their new league.
January proved to be a bit of a slog with 7 defeats against just 4 league wins, but there was a rather important win in the opening Cup Semi-final leg when the Flames, on home ice, downed league powerhouse Nottingham Panthers to take a 5-2 Cup lead into the closing game in February where a 3-1 road win qualified Spectrum’s tenants for the Championship final against Belfast Giants. Immediately adding on 4 league wins on the bounce, another milestone was achieved. Amidst that stretch, on February 17th, a 1-0 shutout victory over Manchester Storm helped the club hoist its 1st ever Elite League trophy thanks to the Patton Conference title. With the 1st Elite silver parade on Spectrum ice out of the way, the accumulation of league points also put a playoff spot firmly in sight.
March 10th at Viola Arena in Cardiff saw the Flames contest more Silver in the ‘winner take all’ Cup Final against Northern Ireland’s favourites, but sadly fate would dangle a near win before exchanging for a heartbreaking defeat with an eventual 2-1 overtime loss that shattered the hopes of Flames faithful. Though a 2nd trophy was not in the cards before the regular season curtain closed, enough points were banked for the club’s first ever top 5 finish.
The final placing put the Flames in line for a Quarter Final playoff 2 game aggregate series against Glasgow Clan. In the opener on Spectrum ice, Clan jumped out to a 3-0 lead through 40 minutes, but a couple of Flames goals in the final frame pulled them within 1, and turned the tide ahead of a road visit to Scotland for the closing leg. Less than 5 minutes in, Jamie Crooks had Spectrum’s men back on even terms and Ian Watters had them in front not long after that. They would not relinquish that aggregate lead during an eventual 5-0 win, 7-3 combined, that solidified a first ever Playoff Final 4 appearance at Nottingham. Unfortunately, in the semi-final against Giants, the Cup winners and newly crowned League champions, the Flames fell short by the same 2-1 Cup Final score, this time in regulation, and were eliminated from a championship game appearance.