Elite League Info

The Elite Ice Hockey League is a professional league in the United Kingdom. Formed in 2003, it is the highest level of ice hockey competition in the UK.

Twelve teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently compete in the Elite League, which is split into three Conferences.

Professional ice hockey has been played in the UK since the 1930s and the Great Britain team won the Olympic gold medal in 1936.

Ice hockey is now the number-one attended indoor professional sport in the UK and overall it is the third largest winter spectator sport in the UK after football and rugby union.

Elite League and Conference Setup

Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers compete in the Erhardt Conference. This is named after Carl Erhardt who captained Great Britain to their Olympic gold in 1936. The winners are awarded the Erhardt Trophy.

Braehead Clan, Edinburgh Capitals, Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers make up the Gardiner Conference. This is named after Charlie Gardiner – the Edinburgh-born netminder who captained Chicago Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup in 1934. The winners are awarded the Gardiner Trophy.

Coventry Blaze, Guildford Flames, Manchester Storm and Milton Keynes Lightning compete in the Patton Conference. This is named after IIHF and British Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Major Bethune Minet “Peter” Patton, who is credited with bringing ice hockey to the United Kingdom and helping it spread across Europe. The winners are awarded the Patton Trophy.

Each team will play teams in their own conference four times at home and four times away (12 home games + 12 away games).

Each team will play teams in the other conference twice at home and twice away (16 home games + 16 away games).

The winner of the Elite League title is the side with the most points from their full 56-game season.

Challenge Cup

Elite League teams also compete for the Challenge Cup.

This competition sees the 12 clubs split into three groups of four, followed by a two-legged quarter-finals (home and away), two-legged semi-finals (home and away) and, as from the 2016-17 season, a stand alone final at Ice Arena Wales in Cardiff.

The three groups of four are as follows:

Group A – Braehead Clan, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers

Group B – Belfast Giants, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers

Group C – Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Guildford Flames and Milton Keynes Lightning

Each team will play against teams in their own group once at home and once away (total 3 home games + 3 away games).

The top two in each group will advance to the quarter final stage of the competition, with two wild card teams completing the quarter final line up.

The wild cards will be made up of the two teams with the most points that do not automatically qualify, with normal tie breaking format to be used in the event of the teams being tied on points.

Elite League Playoffs

The season ends with the playoffs. The top eight seeds progress to the two-legged quarter-finals (home and away).

The Elite League champions will be seeded number one for the playoffs, while the second seed will be the next highest ranked Conference winner based on the Elite League standings followed by the third Conference winner.

The remaining five playoff spots will be taken in order from the final Elite League table.

In the event of the league title winner not winning their Conference, the order will be as follows:

The number-one seed will still be the Elite League winners with the Conference winners taking seeds two, three and four (higher rank determined by their league position).

Seeds five to eight will then be determined by the Elite League table.

Quarter-finals will follow the usual match-ups over two legs with seed one facing eight, two against seven, three versus six and four playing five.

Overtime and penalties will be used after the second leg if needed.

Playoff finals weekend takes place at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena, usually in the first weekend of April (dates will be confirmed by the league each season), with the semi-finals taking place on the Saturday and the third v fourth-placed match and Grand Final on the Sunday.

Seedings for the semi-final and final will be determined by the original quarter-final ranking, so the highest-placed team left in the playoffs will be ranked as the highest seed.

The highest seed will play the lowest seed in the first semi-final, with the remaining seeds playing in the second semi-final.

The two losing semi-finalists will meet in the third v fourth-placed match, while the winners will go head to head in the Elite League playoff final.