Nottingham Panthers will be wearing special one-off pride jerseys when they host Belfast Giants in their Viaplay Elite league game on Saturday.
Pride week runs throughout the league from January 20–27, 2023 as all teams and supporters come together in support of the LGBTQ+ community, with the message that hockey is for everyone.
The game-worn and game-issued shirts can be won in an online raffle with tickets costing just £1.
There are a total of 27 game-issued jerseys up for grabs in the raffle with most of them being game-worn.
Alistair St Clair, press officer for the Panthers, said: “I think the message overall from the league is hockey is for everyone and I think that’s a crucial message that needs to land.”
“I think when you’ve got pro athletes in what was traditionally seen as a tough guy sport, it’s important we’re supporting that message and that cause which I think helps to remove the frankly dated stigma that still unfortunately exists in some places.”
St Clair also touched on how the initiative could benefit a large number of sports that see issues with LGBTQ+ inclusivity.
“You look at professional sports, football or rugby for example, there is an alarming lack of exposure, especially from the point of view of the LGBTQ community” he said.
The Panthers are looking to send a clear message that everyone is welcome, and St Clair insists that inclusivity is vital.
”THE DREAM IS THAT ONE DAY THAT THIS TYPE OF THING WON’T BE NEEDED ANYMORE AND EVERYONE JUST FEELS ACCEPTED.”
ALISTAIR ST CLAIR
”It’s important for the fans that, as a club you love and support, this is what we believe in, we accept everyone and we believe that everyone should feel comfortable, supported and protected to be their whole selves whatever that means.”
“The dream is that one day that this type of thing won’t be needed anymore and everyone just feels accepted,” St Clair continued.
All profits from the raffle will be donated to the Notts LGBT+ Network, who have been providing support and information to Nottinghamshire’s LGBT+ community since 1975.
Panthers are also donating 10% of profits from the sale of the Pride replica jerseys which can be bought online
The Panthers have two players in line to make their debuts at the weekend after completing signings of defenceman Albin Lindgren and netminder Peyton Jones.
Lindgren, originally from Sweden, said: ”I saw this chance to come to Nottingham for the rest of the season as a good opportunity for me to see how it’s like to play in England and develop my game’’
“So far so good, my teammates have been great in my first week of training helping me settle into England,” he explained.
Lindgren was asked about the upcoming pride game and said: “It’s good to make sure all types of people feel involved and accepted in our sport, and it’s important to speak out about it.”
Jones, who only signed for the club on Monday, said: “I’m excited for a new start here now I’ve met the team, they seem great so I just can’t wait to get going.”
“I knew a couple of the guys before I came just by playing against them but getting to know them more on a personal level has been real fun,” he continued.
The clash on Saturday is sure to be a close affair with just one place separating the two teams in the table.
Over three quarters of tickets have been sold at the Motorpoint Arena for the 7pm face-off.