WINNING promotion in any sport can be hard enough at the best of times.
But for Sutton Sting Ice Hockey Club’s senior team, their quest for success has been made that little bit harder - after being forced to play all their games away from their home town.
Sting currently play their home games at Ice Sheffield because their Lammas rink does not meet the necessary minimum size requirements.
Yet despite that handicap the team, who are in just their second season of competition, has overcome the odds to move within one game of promotion to Division One North of the English National Ice Hockey League.
The Division Two North side face the high-profile Division One North outfit Nottingham Lions next month in what is, without doubt, their biggest ever fixture.
Gary Apsley, who helped found Sutton Sting back in April 2006, said: “I would say we go into the game as slight favourites.
“I think we would rather play them than they would us.
“It would be simply massive for a club like us to win promotion at just the second time of asking.
“Competing in a game like this is something we could never have dreamed of when we first created the club.
“We have some very skilful players wanting to play for Sutton Sting.
“The Nottingham Lions are a massive club and it would be a disaster for them if they lost this game.
“The reality for us is that this game is another tremendous chance to promote ice-hockey in Nottinghamshire.
“This is a real David v Goliath affair and a really exciting opportunity for Sutton Sting to continue our progression as a club.
“I would love the Lammas to be full-size so we could play there, but that is not the case.
“We are having to make do with what we have got at the moment and things are going ok for us at the moment.”
And it is not just as senior level that Sting, are enjoying ongoing success with their U12 side currently mixing it with the big boys in Division One.
Added Gary: “We are competing in the same league as Nottingham and Sheffield, who are two of the biggest clubs in this country.
“The coach Lee Millward has worked tremendously hard to learn the game in recent years and inspire his players.
“The whole team is made up of Sutton-born players and that is a tremendous achievement.
“We want to continue our progress as a club and make it a dream of the youngsters at the club to play for Sutton Sting seniors rather than Nottingham Panthers or Sheffield Steelers as is the case at the moment.”
Sutton Sting now have around 180 players on their book across 11 different age range teams. They also have a female side, The Ashfield Aces.