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Calgary Flames

Is it October yet?

Championships around the world are getting underway now making Liam, our resident Brit, even hungrier for the start of what could be another incredible season for the Calgary Flames.



This season has brought a new slant on following that hockey team on the other side of the world.

It always used to be the case that the UK season would come along at the start of September, and after five months of anticipation I’d bury my head into the Elite League, enjoy what this little island gave me, and that would be pretty much it. I’d obviously keep tabs on the Flames, watch the odd game, but I was almost entirely about the Sheffield Steelers.

That changed last year.

The run of the little engine that could took the entire hockey world by storm. There were people on both sides of the pond willing the Flames on, regardless of their previous affiliation. They wanted to see this unlikely side do well, seemingly against all the odds, overcoming all the obstacles put in the way of them. I'd stay up and watch games – every game, not just the odd one – in case I missed something special or important. The Flames got ahold of me in a way that I never thought was possible.

Nobody I know in person quite gets why I go through the effort of either staying up very late, or waking up very early, to watch a sports team on the other side of the world. Even when explaining how exciting last season was, they just couldn't understand why. "Don't you have a team over here?" I'm not sure I fully understand it myself. All I know is that I daren't miss a second.

This has been timed with the formation of the Champions Hockey League, a European competition created last year to find the best team on the continent. The UK teams struggle in it, because we haven't got the quality that other teams do, but it has opened up a whole new avenue of hockey viewing. I had no reason to watch DEL games now, or take in a game from the SHL in Sweden, but now I've seen these teams, I do.

No longer is the Elite League my main focus. It's mostly just there – it's nice to see my own country on TV, and seeing the sport grow, but it's just not at the same level, in terms of professionalism, on-ice skill or even player character. It's not my everything, like it was 12 months ago. I'll be spending more time watching games from Germany, Sweden, Finland – I may even give the KHL a look.

No, now my main focus is the team that play half a world away. The one that involves me staying up until 3:00am GMT just to see the opening faceoff. The one that I may never get to see in person. The one I love the most.

Is it October yet?

by Liam McCausland