The Elite Ice Hockey League has extended its regular-season schedule through to Sunday 17 April to protect “the integrity of the season,” league bosses have announced.
The Elite League’s decision comes after it postponed more than 30 games in December and January. Following the extension, the post-season will begin on the weekend of 23-24 April, with Playoff Finals Weekend scheduled to take place at Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena a week later.
In an Elite League statement, chair Tony Smith said: “The league title and qualifying for the playoffs have always been the most exciting part of our Elite League season, so we wanted to ensure that we had the fairest way possible of deciding those.”
“As 10 teams, we agreed that it’s only right to ensure that each team plays a full 54-game season in order to determine final league and playoff places. Adding an extra week on to the season ensures that we can play all games, and gave us extra space to rearrange fixtures without needing teams to play even heavier schedules.”
Elite League Fixtures (11-17 April)
Wednesday 13 April:
- Dundee Stars v Fife Flyers (19:30)
Friday 15 April:
- Belfast Giants v Sheffield Steelers (19:00)
- Dundee Stars v Fife Flyers (19:00)
Saturday 16 April:
- Cardiff Devils v Dundee Stars (19:00)
- Belfast Giants v Coventry Blaze (19:00)
- Glasgow Clan v Fife Flyers (19:00)
- Manchester Storm v Guilford Flames (19:00)
Sunday 17 April:
- Nottingham Panthers v Cardiff Devils (18:00)
- Coventry Blaze v Dundee Stars (18:00)
- Fife Flyers v Glasgow Clan (18:00)
- Guildford Flames v Manchester Storm (18:00)
The Elite League’s full fixture list can be viewed (as a PDF) here: 2021-22 Updated Schedule.
Elite League Extension Sparks Anger, Luke James:
The Elite League’s regular-season extension has upset has upset many hockey fans across the UK for two reasons.
First and foremost, the extension has implications for Playoff Finals Weekend. Originally, the event was to take place in Nottingham on the weekend of April 23-24. Due to the regular-season’s delay, it will now be held on Saturday 30 and Sunday 1 May (a Bank Holiday weekend). This change to the fixture list will come at a significant cost to supporters who have already booked travel, accommodation, and time off work for the original dates.
This announcement isn’t a major surprise, it was always going to be difficult to squeeze the COVID games into an already heavy schedule.
Key example 👇
🐉 Coventry Blaze — played 24/54
👹 Cardiff Devils — played 31/54
Updated Schedule ➡️ https://t.co/qUSVDBd9vk
— Luke James (@LukeJames_32) February 1, 2022
Secondly, the Elite League’s season finale is now due to clash with the National Ice Hockey League’s (NIHL) own playoff extravaganza. Clearly, the scheduling conflict will impact supporters who wanted to attend both events. More importantly, though, it will also prevent two-way players from participating in both finals.
Supporters’ anger at the Elite League’s announcement is understandable.
However, EIHL bosses were stuck between a rock and hard place. With so many games already postponed, decision-makers had to make a choice. Shorten the fixture list or extend the season. The Elite League opted for the latter – and will now face heat from supporters as a result.
What is your opinion on the extension, join the discussion on Twitter by mentioning @BritIceHockey.