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.
Elite League and Conference
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 Elite 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-finals (home and away), two-legged semi-finals (home and away) and, as from the 2014-15 season, a stand alone final at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield.
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 winner of the Conference that does not produce the league winner.
The remaining six 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 two Conference winners taking seeds two and three (higher rank determined by their league position).
Seeds four 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 National Ice Centre, usually in the first weekend of April, 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.
|Season||League||Play-Offs||Challenge Cup||British Knockout Cup||Erhardt Conference||Gardiner Conference|
|2003-04||Sheffield Steelers||Nottingham Panthers||Sheffield Steelers||Nottingham Panthers||Nottingham Panthers||Sheffield Steelers||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004-05||Coventry Blaze||Belfast Giants||Coventry Blaze||Nottingham Panthers||Coventry Blaze||Cardiff Devils||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005-06||Belfast Giants||Newcastle Vipers||Newcastle Vipers||Sheffield Steelers||Cardiff Devils||Coventry Blaze||Sheffield Steelers||Coventry Blaze||—||—||—||—|
|2006-07||Coventry Blaze||Belfast Giants||Nottingham Panthers||Cardiff Devils||Coventry Blaze||Sheffield Steelers||Cardiff Devils||Coventry Blaze||—||—||—||—|
|2007-08||Coventry Blaze||Sheffield Steelers||Sheffield Steelers||Coventry Blaze||Nottingham Panthers||Sheffield Steelers||Coventry Blaze||Basingstoke Bison||—||—||—||—|
|2008-09||Sheffield Steelers||Coventry Blaze||Sheffield Steelers||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||Manchester Phoenix||Belfast Giants||Manchester Phoenix||—||—||—||—|
|2009-10||Coventry Blaze||Belfast Giants||Belfast Giants||Cardiff Devils||Nottingham Panthers||Cardiff Devils||—||—||---||---||—||—|
|2010-11||Sheffield Steelers||Cardiff Devils||Nottingham Panthers||Cardiff Devils||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||—||—||—||—||---||---|
|2011-12||Belfast Giants||Sheffield Steelers||Nottingham Panthers||Cardiff Devils||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|2012-13||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||Nottingham Panthers||Sheffield Steelers||—||—||Belfast Giants||Nottingham Panthers||Braehead Clan||Fife Flyers|
|2013-14||Belfast Giants||Sheffield Steelers||Sheffield Steelers||Belfast Giants||Nottingham Panthers||Belfast Giants||Belfast Giants||Sheffield Steelers||Dundee Stars||Hull Stingrays|