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. Ten teams from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland currently compete in the Elite League, which is split into two Conferences.
Professional ice hockey has been played in the UK since the 1930s and the GB 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.
Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, 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, Fife Flyers and Hull Stingrays 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.
Each side plays teams in their own Conference eight times (four at home and four away) and face sides in the other Conference four times (twice at home and twice away). The winner of the League title is the side with the most points from their full 52-game season.
Teams also compete for the Challenge Cup. This competition sees the 10 clubs split into two groups of five, following by two-legged quarter-final, two-legged semi-final and a two-legged final.
The season ends with the play-offs, which culminates in a final-four weekend at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham in April.