The Elite League have announced the changes to the league and Challenge Cup format as a result of the addition of MK Lightning and Guildford Flames.
Changes to the structure were ratified at an EIHL board meeting which sees the previous two Conference system of five teams each replaced with three Conferences, containing four teams apiece.
The Challenge Cup also has the same format, but teams’ respective opposition will be altered from previous years in each group.
The knock-out stages will still begin from the quarter-finals, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the last eight, with the two of the three third placed teams, one from each group, going through on a wild card format.
League chairman Tony Smith said: “I’m excited at how our league looks on the back of these changes and it was important that we had all twelve clubs involved in this new set-up.
“We’ve made sure every team gets the best out of this layout and I’m sure it’s something the fans will get behind when they see how it’s all come together.
“It’s going to be a very competitive competition and I, for one, will be fascinated at how things play out in the coming season when we get back to action.”
ELITE LEAGUE FORMAT
Conference One – Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers
Conference Two – Coventry Blaze, Guildford Flames, Manchester Storm, MK Lightning
Conference Three – Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers
The three Conferences will be named at a later date.
Each team will play teams in their own conference four times at home and four times away (12 home games + 12 away).
Each team will play teams in the other conference twice at home and twice away (16 home + 16 away).
This will give each team a total of 28 homes games and 28 away games for a total schedule of 56 games – up four games from last year.
The league campaign will begin during the weekend of 9/10th September and will conclude on the weekend of 31st March and 1st April 2018.
CHALLENGE CUP FORMAT
The group stage of the Challenge Cup will remain, with the 12 teams divided into three groups of four 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 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.
Head-to-head results won’t count, but the tie-breaking format will be the same for league standings.
(Image permission: Press Eye)