Category: EIHA Press Release

2021-22 NIHL 1 South League News

NINE CONFIRMED FOR SOUTH 1 AS 21/22 SEASON LOOMS LARGE


Almost 18 months since Streatham IHC clinched a league and cup double, the puck with drop again for the clubs in NIHL South 1 with a nine strong cast list ready to do battle.


Bristol Pitbulls, Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, MK Thunder, Oxford City Stars, Romford Junior Raiders, Slough Jets, Solent Devils and defending champions Streatham IHC will make up the division from September.


The clubs will play two home and two away against each other to complete the league campaign which starts on September 11th and runs through until April 10th.


Playoffs will see the top eight teams qualify for the quarter final round, played as a two-legged tie (1v8 2v7 3v6 4v5) over the weekend of April 16&17.  The winners will then play at the South 1 Finals Weekend on April 23 and 24.


League champions from South 1 will also face off in a National Championship game against the North 1 league winners at Coventry on Sunday May 1 as part of the National Finals Weekend.


The cup competition will see the first league game home and away in the schedule will also count towards the Cup standings. The semi finals will be over two legs in early/mid December, with the Cup Final also over two legs scheduled between 8 and 16 January 2022.


Bristol Pitbulls return to the top division this year but also their home city in a new rink.  Co-owner Richie Hargreaves said:

“For many of us the last 18 months has felt like a life time of no hockey.  Here in Bristol it pretty much has been that and a lifetime out of the city.


“We are looking forward like many others to the thrills and spills of our beloved ice hockey this September.  We are very much excited as a club to be once again participating in South 1 and looking forward to our new chapter here in Bristol. But I think most of all is the return of that sixth player the fans who bring the energy night in night out which can only be found in our sport.”


Ben Pitchley, Romford Junior Raiders GM and head of hockey operations added:

“After the longest lay off ever, we are just glad to be able to get back on the ice, and fingers crossed, playing in front of fans again!”


One of the teams who played in our behind-closed-doors spring series, MK Thunder, are celebrating a special anniversary this season.  GM Lauren Cox commented: 

“The coming season marks 20 years of Thunder and we’re excited to be competing in a nine team league. The Spring and Rugged Stock Cup enabled us to play alongside and against some great talent, which has added more depth to our experience. Welcome to Bristol, we look forward to seeing their brand new rink.”


Work is underway between clubs and the NIHL fixtures secretary and the schedule will be published as soon as it is available.

NIHL SOUTH 1 KEY DATES:

  • Pre-season – September 4-5 2021
  • Regular season start – September 11 2021
  • Regular season end – April 10 2022
  • Cup semi finals – December 4/5 11/12 2021
  • Cup Final – January 8/9 15/16 2022
  • Playoff quarter finals – April 16-17 2022
  • Playoff Finals Weekend – April 23-24 2022
  • National Final v N1 champion – May 1 2022

2021-22 League News

NATIONAL LEAGUE NORTH & SOUTH READY FOR LAUNCH


The EIHA and NIHL are pleased to confirm that details of the Division 1 & 2 competitions will be announced over the next four days advising the competing clubs, league format, playoffs and cup competition information.


Clubs and the league have been involved in discussions in recent weeks about the return of competitive play in the NIHL after successful events played behind closed doors during the spring.


We are delighted to have 39 teams signed up to take part in the 21/22 season playing in four divisions.  League format, any cup competitions and post-season formats have been agreed and will be announced division by division starting with North 1 (Moralee) on Friday July 30.


Pre-season play will commence from September 4 2021 with regular season beginning either September 11 or 18 depending on the division.  The latest date that post-season play will end is on Sunday May 1 2022.

The divisions for 21/22 will be:

  • North 1 (Moralee) – 8 teams
  • South 1 (Britton) – 10 teams
  • North 2 (Laidler) – 9 teams
  • South 2 (Wilkinson) – 12 teams


Full details will be announced one division per day starting tomorrow, Friday July 30.


EIHA director Andrew Miller, who leads for the NIHL, said:

“We are pleased to have our competition formats agreed and myself and the Board are grateful to the clubs for engaging with us to make the NIHL return to play as good as it can be.


“The formats we will announce have teams playing at the right level with the right amount of games to suit their own club model. We are also pleased to be able to support clubs wishing to enter what would have been U20 sides into the NIHL, cementing the league’s place in the development pathway for our athletes moving from junior to senior hockey.


“After ceasing the leagues in March 2020 we are looking forward to welcoming supporters back into our rinks at all levels of the NIHL and for our teams to serve up an enjoyable, competitive season which will draw to a close with league title races, cup finals and playoff championships that everyone involved can get behind!”

Government Funding for Winter Sports

The Sports Minister has announced that elite, national and regional ice hockey will receive an unprecedented £2.7 million of Government funding in the latest round of the Sport Winter Survival Package.
The support will be formed of £2.3 million in loans and grants provided to four English clubs within the Elite Ice Hockey League: the Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham Panthers, Manchester Storm and Coventry Blaze.
£400,000 in grants will also be provided to the English Ice Hockey Association and English clubs in the National Ice Hockey League.


For the past 20 years ice hockey has been the biggest attended indoor sport in the UK, and is the third most regularly attended sport in terms of spectators. However as a result of the public health measures necessary to contain the coronavirus pandemic and the financial uncertainty these have caused, the Elite Ice Hockey League opted not to run the 2020/21 season.


The funding will cover essential costs necessary for the sport’s survival and to get back playing, including the launch of the 2021 Elite Series.


Formed of the four aforementioned clubs and taking place from 3 April – 3 May in Nottingham, the mini-series – which will be streamed online – will allow fans to support their team and help the Great Britain men’s national ice hockey team in their preparations for the IIHF World Championship later this year.
The funding has already allowed some National Ice Hockey League clubs to also resume action, supporting local ice rinks in the process.


Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said:

“This unprecedented support for ice hockey will act as a lifeline for the sport and ice rinks across the country. The reality is that without stepping in, it would have meant 18 months of no live action. Visibility is important to inspire the next generation, so I’m delighted that we’ve been able to work with the relevant bodies to develop a new proposal that supports the highest level of the sport through the Elite Series, and has also given clubs at regional level the confidence to return to the ice.”


Tony Smith, Chairman of the Elite Ice Hockey League, said:

“The UK’s top professional ice hockey league – the Elite Ice Hockey League – is thrilled to be able to get back on the ice with the backing from amongst others: the teams, the government and (when the action starts) the massive army of fans that follow us. In an ever changing landscape caused by the pandemic it is testament to the collective power that everyone pulling together can bring that we are going to stage a four team top flight event which will give fans something to cheer. At the same time the best players in the country will get a chance to compete for a place on the ‘plane to the World Championships. Without this series the GB players could have landed badly underprepared for games against the world’s elite. A tremendous amount of work and commitment is going on to make this event happen and we thank everyone for their support.”

EIHA director Andrew Miller added:

“The Association and our clubs are grateful to the Government for their support of our sport as part of the Sport Winter Survival Package.  Their help and the hard work of our teams, players and staff as well as our venues has enabled us to return three competitions and around 400 athletes to the ice. We look forward to a fuller return to play for more of our clubs and athletes in the coming weeks.”


This is the fourth tranche of funding to be announced from the Government’s £300 million Sport Winter Survival Package that is focused on helping those major spectator sports severely impacted by coronavirus restrictions survive the winter

It follows the Government announcing more than £40 million provided to support grassroots rugby union clubs, up to £5.5 million to support the launch of the men’s Championship competition and £1.1 million for professional women’s rugby, including the Premier 15s and covid-19 related costs for the Red Roses’ Women’s Six Nations campaign.


In February the Government announced a major boost for women’s sport, with an initial £2.25 million for women’s football, £4.2 million to netball, a combined £4 million for badminton and basketball, and that women’s sport would be prioritised for 250,000 free Covid-19 testing kits being made available to elite sports, worth £1.5 million. It was also announced that an initial 19 National League Step 1-2 clubs would be offered loans worth up to £5.4 million.

The first announcement in January confirmed that Steps 3-6 of the National League system will receive up to £10 million to protect the immediate future of approximately 850 clubs over the winter period.


Submissions for support have been made from individual sports to an independent decision-making Board, supported by Sport England.


The Sport Winter Survival Package is the most generous of any Government for its domestic sport sector in the world. It comes on top of the sector benefiting from more than £1.5 billion worth of business support that has been made available by the Government, including the furlough scheme, business rates relief and business interruption loan scheme that has helped many sports clubs and leisure businesses to survive.


Earlier this month the Chancellor announced a further £300 million of support that is expected to benefit major summer spectator sports such as cricket, tennis and horse racing, as the path out of lockdown continues and sports stadia initially open at reduced capacities. Further details, including how cash will be distributed, how organisations can apply and timeframes, will be announced by Sport England in the coming weeks.


Further confirmations of funding from the Sports Winter Survival Package will be made in due course.

DIVISION 1 PLAYOFF FINALS WEEKEND VENUES CONFIRMED

DIVISION 1 PLAYOFF FINALS WEEKEND VENUES CONFIRMED
The National League Management Group are pleased to confirm the venues for the end of season Finals Weekends for the Division 1 competitions in North and South.
The Moralee (North) and Britton (South) finals will take place over the weekend of April 11-12, 2020.  Each event will feature two semi finals on the Saturday with the Grand Final on the Sunday.
Ice Sheffield will host the finale for the Moralee division.  The twin pad venue has hosted joint Moralee-Laidler weekends previously in the main Bauer Arena, as well as being an EIHA centre of excellence and the home of the JLMC Conference Weekend.
General Manager at Ice Sheffield, Shaun Lough, said: “We are looking forward to hosting the event taking place in the Bauer Arena.
“It adds to our ever growing portfolio of ice sporting events that take place at the venue year round.
“It is great news for the city and provide local ice hockey fans with even more ice hockey to come and watch.”
For the Britton division, Bracknell Ice Rink will be the host venue.  A successful host for the Wilkinson (S2) finals in each of the past two seasons, ’The Hive’ has stepped up to take on the challenge of the South Division 1 weekend.
Justin Wilson, Ice Rink Operations Manager at Bracknell, said: “Firstly I’d like to start with how pleased I am we’ve been chosen to host our third consecutive finals weekend.
“We would certainly suggest the events have improved over the last two years both organisationally and value for money with the quality of talent on display.

“This year fans will enjoy our further improved facilities, with speakers now installed downstairs rink side and a new and improved Bees Knees bar.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the top teams of the league battling it out over two days, and seeing a variety of fans packing out the arena.”

The Bracknell event has partnered with the four-star Coppid Beech Hotel beside the rink and they are offering those attending the Britton Finals a discount for their rooms on Saturday 11th & Sunday 12th April 2020. The Coppid Beech Hotel also have 2 accessible bedrooms that have extra space for easy wheelchair access.

Rooms can now be booked at the following discounted rates;
·         Single Room with Breakfast – £69.00
·         Double Room with Breakfast – £79.00
·         Family of 3 with Breakfast – £89.00
·         Family of 4 with Breakfast – £99.00

To take advantage of the offer, supporters must make their booking over the telephone on 01344 303333 and quote ‘BRAC110420’.

NIHL league manager Gary Dent said: “The NLMG are grateful to all venues who expressed an interest in our divisional finals weekends, and we’re delighted to work with Ice Sheffield and Bracknell Ice Rink again and look forward to two well run events which can act as a worthy showpiece for the supporters across the respective divisions to bring the curtain down on their season.”
Final schedules and ticket prices for the weekends will be confirmed in due course.
The venues for Division 2 North (Laidler) and South (Wilkinson) will be announced in the next couple of days.
ENDS

NIHL DIVISIONAL FORMATS CONFIRMED FOR 19/20 SEASON

NIHL DIVISIONAL FORMATS CONFIRMED FOR 19/20 SEASON

The clubs and management of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) held their annual section meetings this past weekend and agreed the format of competitions for the 2019/20 season starting in September.

A new ten team national division, NIHL National, comes into existence to sit above the long-standing Division 1 and 2 which are both regionalised into North and South.

Some finer details around exact format of some Cup and Playoff competitions is still to be signed off by some divisions but the details below are confirmed.

NIHL: NATIONAL

NIHL National’s ten teams will be split into two conferences for regular season play.  Telford Tigers, MK Lightning, Sheffield Steeldogs, Hull Pirates and Leeds Chiefs make up one conference.  Swindon Wildcats, Bracknell Bees, Basingstoke Bison, Peterborough Phantoms and Raiders make up the other.

Teams will play their own conference four home and four away, while they face the other conference twice at home and twice away.

At the end of the regular season, the top eight teams from the overall standings will qualify for the playoffs.  These will play in two groups of four, one home and one away game, with the groups being 1st-4th-5th-8th and 2nd-3rd-6th-7th.  The top two sides from the groups will qualify for the finals weekend in Coventry.

There will also be a National Cup where the first home game for each club against the nine other clubs will count towards the qualifying standings.  The top four sides from this table will qualify for cup semi finals.  The highest placed qualifier will choose their semi final opponent, with the two remaining sides also matching up.  The Cup should have reached at least the semi final stage by the end of the calendar year.

The season will likely begin on September 14/15 and it was confirmed the the NIHL National will continue with the same ‘import’ rules as last year.  Teams can dress two ‘imports’ with only one being allowed on the ice at any one time.

NIHL: Division 1 – South

It is confirmed that there are ten teams in this division for 19/20 – Invicta Dynamos, Streatham IHC, MK Thunder, Cardiff Fire, Slough Jets, Bracknell Hornets, Raiders 2, Solent Devils, Oxford City Stars and Chelmsford Chieftains.

The teams will play two home and two away against each other for the regular season, with the top eight sides qualifying for post-season play.  The exact format of the playoffs will be confirmed in due course.

A number of teams expressed interest in a cup competition and discussions are ongoing.

NIHL: Division 2 – South

There are twelve teams in this division.  Guildford Phoenix, Bracknell IHC 3,  Bristol Pitbulls, Peterborough Phantoms 2, Invicta Mustangs, Haringey Huskies, Basingstoke Buffalo, Swindon Wildcats 2, Lee Valley Lions, Streatham Bruins, Solent Devils 2, Cardiff Fire 2.  Cardiff’s second team were accepted pending final agreement for ice time at their home venue.

Once Cardiff’s participation is confirmed then the structure for the regular season will be announced along with playoffs.

There will be a South 2 Cup this season which will culminate in a Cup Final Weekend.

NIHL: Division 1 – North

Seven sides will compete in this division for 19/20 – Solway Sharks, Whitley Warriors, Solihull Barons, Blackburn Hawks, Sutton Sting, Billingham Stars and Nottingham Lions.

The league season will be two home and two away against each other, with the top six sides qualifying for postseason play.  This will take the form of two groups of three sides – 1st, 4th, 6th and 2nd, 3rd, 5th – playing one home and one away to decide semi finalists and so on.

There will be additional cup competitions to include Murrayfield Racers and Dundee Comets from SNL along with Widnes Wild from NIHL North 2.  The sides will play in two groups of five.  Solway, Whitley, Billingham, Murrayfield and Dundee in one group, with Solihull, Blackburn, Sutton, Nottingham and Widnes in the other.  The number of Cup fixtures is still to be confirmed by the teams involved.  Each group will have its own knockout stages to decide the cup winners.

NIHL: Division 2 – North

There are nine sides in this division – Widnes Wild, Telford Tigers 2, Hull Jets, Bradford Bulldogs, Sheffield Senators, Coventry Blaze, Deeside Dragons, Altrincham Aces and Blackburn Hawks 2.

North 2 clubs will play two home and two away against each other with the top four sides qualifying for the playoffs.

NIHL Division 1 and 2 seasons are likely to begin on 7/8 September.  The winners of North 1 and South 1 are likely to play at the Coventry weekend for a national championship game. There is also an appetite to retain the NIHL2 championship game which has played at Coventry for the past two years.  NLMG are investigating options for this fixture.

The annual review of Rules of Competition is underway while clubs will be providing their available dates to the NLMG to begin the fixture list compilation.

The NIHL management would like to thank all clubs and their representatives for their valuable input at the meetings and look forward to working with them to prepare for the new season.