Crowds at Peterborough Pirates ice-hockey matches topped the 1,000 mark for the first time on Sunday evening. Attendances for British League Division Two matches at the East of England Ice Rink in Bretton have quadrupled in little over two months. Such has been the immense popularity of the sport that ice-rink manager Paul French is now considering putting in an extra 400 seats.

'The attendances are building up nicely but I don't think we have finished yet,' said Paul, 'I really do believe that 'we will get 1,500 people watching Pirates ice-hockey in Peterborough". The crowd topped the 1,000 mark for the visit of Grimsby Buffaloes on Sunday and many of those people were families. "It is very much a family sport and that is how we promote it. The game is fast and exciting and is extremely appealing to youngsters" added Paul.

He believes he could accommodate 1,750 people at the rink but that would will be well down on Nottingham Panthers, who attract crowds around 3,000 for every home match. "The first match we only had about 200 people here but that doubled the next week and the crowd has got bigger every week since", he said. "Ice-hockey is the game for the future and will soon be competing with football and speedway for attendances. Already television companies are getting more and more involved and approaches have been made to us here at Peterborough" he said.

Meanwhile team news with Pirates is not good. Phil Tilley will be out of action for up to six weeks with a broken wrist. Tilley suffered the injury during Pirates' British League Division Two win over Grimsby Buffaloes on Sunday. He went down awkwardly after a challenge and suffered a staircase fracture. Pirates trailed Grimsby 3-1 at one stage but fought their way back to win 11-9 and that victory keeps them on top of the league.

The British League Division Two goalscoring charts have also been released and Pirates players hold the top four positions. They are John Lawless, Glenn Skidmore, Mike Andrews and Rob Carnegie. Lawless tops the charts with 59 goals with six of those coming on Sunday. The Peterborough side have a severe test on Sunday when they step into Puck Challenge Cup action against British League Division One outfit Altrincham at the East of England Ice Rink (face-off 6-45pm). Pirates' visit to Streatham, scheduled for Sunday, was cancelled because of a double booking at the south London rink.