The NIHL National owners group has been working hard with the EIHA and rink operators over the past months to determine options for returning to play. We are hugely grateful for the collaboration, support and teamwork across all these groups and today we’d like to confirm our plans going forward.
Phase one of the Return to Play process will see five teams taking part in a National League Spring Cup during February and March. This competition will see 2 of the Streaming Series teams (Sheffield and Swindon) joined by the Bees, Raiders and Telford Tigers. Here’s the details:
- 5 teams playing each other home and away over 7 weekends each team playing each other 3 times for a total of 12 games each
- games to be played behind closed doors, with streaming where facilities are available
- Points to be allocated using the usual league rules, with the top placed team at the end of the series awarded the cup. If fixtures cannot be played as scheduled, the teams in conjunction with the EIHA will determine the appropriate award or rescheduling of the game.
Phase two of the Return to Play process will give all ten teams of the NIHL National division the chance to participate in a league competition during April and May, detail will be confirmed at a later date.
In developing this series, we have been heavily focused on safety, and our role as an Elite Sport during the current National Lockdown. At all times teams will comply with government regulations and the return to play rules from the EIHA. To increase our insight and warning of any potential COVID infections, all teams will also be running weekly Covid testing of all players with a clear communication plan in the event of positive test results.
All in all, we are now at a key moment for NIHL National teams returning to the ice. If we are able to do this, it will provide a real boost to the mental health of players, coaches, staff and fans, and be another step towards the survival and wider return of our sport as the benefit of Covid vaccinations is seen across the country.
Bees Head Coach Doug Sheppard said; “The wait is finally over! It’s been a long time coming but finally we can get back on the ice and back playing hockey. This is an exciting time for the players and the supporters and we can’t wait to hit the ice and get this season underway. We know our fans will be right behind us virtually as we get back to hockey.”
We will release fixture information and further details in the coming days and look forward to beginning the competition. We’re doing everything we can to make this safely happen. Thank you so much for your support and patience and we will see you on the ice soon!