But, it’s now time to look forward. A new rink where we can meet old friends once again and make new ones. The Pitbulls have finally come home.


The pandemic denied Bristol a grand farewell to the Oxford Ice Rink. But the importance of that building and the generosity of those in the rink and in Oxford City Stars will never be underestimated by this team. Bristol ice hockey will forever be indebted to them.


In the grand scheme of things, that was irrelevant. Bristol’s success was now off-ice. Planning permission for the rink was finally approved and construction of the team’s new home began. The road home was being built.  


League restructuring due to the collapse of the EPL meant that Bristol never achieved those heights again. Forced to play against teams who had been playing in the league above, season goals became qualification for playoffs rather than titles.


That summer, The Mall at Cribbs Causeway announced their plans to build a new rink. Has there ever been a greater reward for winning a title?


A 4-0 shut-out in their home leg, played in Swindon, gave Bristol control of the series and their first ever double after winning the second leg 5-4. From seven games without a win straight into what is still a club record; twenty games without defeat.


But Bristol strengthened over the Chrismas break and would go unbeaten in the second half of the season. The run would see them win the Western Conference in their last game of the season against Wightlink. Peterborough were dispatched with ease in the playoffs semi-final to set up a final against Slough, winners of the other conference.


Despite now having some stability in Oxford, the 2014-15 season started slowly. A win against Basingstoke in September would be their last of the year as the team went on a disastrous streak of seven games without a win.


The following year, Oxford Ice Rink offered a more permanent, temporary home. The stability immediately paid benefits. Third in the league, only three points behind winners Oxford and a cup final defeat to the same team.


The next season was a whirlwind. In Bristol, there was campaigning and a brief hope that the rink may get a stay of execution. Away from Bristol, the Pitbulls were playing their home games in Basingstoke, Oxford, Swindon and Solihull. The team finished fourth, denied a title as their backlog of games mixed with fatigue of playing on the road eventually caught up with them.