2021 Elite Series confirmed for April-May!
Four teams will contest a five-week series in Nottingham
The Elite Ice Hockey League is delighted to announce that professional ice hockey will be played in the UK this season!
The EIHL has been given the green light to start the 2021 Elite Series in April, which will see four teams taking part in a five-week mini-season. The Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers will contest a regular season with 24 games in total, culminating in a best-of-three Playoff Final series. All games will be played at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham, and will be available to stream online from the beginning of April.
This entire event will be organised under the government’s Elite Sport Guidance, with regular testing and a full COVID-19 protocol in place.
"A lot of people have worked very hard in many different organisations to get us to this point, and we are extremely grateful for their time and effort over the past few months," explained Elite League Chairman Tony Smith. "We cannot wait to get back out on the ice again!"
Smith also explained what the make-up of teams will look like in the streaming series. "Our number one priority in the Elite Series is to make sure that most of the Great Britain national team players are included. We have already been working with Pete Russell to ensure that as many of the players that he has in mind for the World Championships in May, as possible, will be included, if they’re not already playing abroad. In addition to this, we are hoping to provide roster spots for as many other elite British players as want to play in this series, regardless of which teams they played for last season, plus a fine complement of import players that will ensure compulsive viewing for all hockey fans in the UK and beyond."
He concluded: "All of this combined means we can promise our fans that these games will stay true to the Elite League product they know and enjoy. Everyone is raring to go and, although it will be behind closed doors, I hope the 2021 Elite Series gives our fans back some of what they’ve been missing since September."
Great Britain Head Coach Pete Russell added: "It’s superb news that the Elite League are going to be active this season in this mini-series. Firstly, it’s great for ice hockey in the UK; and secondly, it's great for the British players to be able to get back to some normality and get active before the up-and-coming World Championships.
"Many of the potential players in the squad will now get competitive ice time ahead of May’s tournament in Latvia. Some of them haven't played in a long time and others have had interrupted seasons, so it was vital they have some competitive matches ahead of a massive tournament where we will, once again, play the best teams in the world.
"Great credit must go to everyone involved for getting this sorted and off the ground in such a short space of time."
More details about the schedule, format, and rosters will be released in the coming days.