Flames confirmed as Elite League’s 12th team

Guildford Flames will become the 12th team in the Elite League from the start of the 2017/18 season.

Their move from the EPL was ratified at an EIHL meeting earlier in the week and they will join MK Lightning as new additions to the league.

Guildford’s Chief Operating Officer Kirk Humphreys said: “To say the least, we, as a club, are exceptionally excited to have been given this opportunity by the league and its board members.

“There are many reasons for taking the club in this direction, but primarily we feel that the time is right to step up to a higher quality, faster on-ice product.

“We believe the jump to the Elite League level will be well received by our fans, and best suits our own objectives in promoting the most competitive, entertaining hockey we can put on the ice.

“After a successful quarter century, we are the same club, same home building, same ties to the community, but now we have the chance to compete in the highest league available to us.

“We hope our fans are as thrilled as we are to begin our next steps at the very top of British Ice Hockey.”

Flames and Lightning will be added to the ten teams already competing in the EIHL and their head coach Paul Dixon is looking forward to the challenge.

“Moving to the top flight of domestic pro hockey is unquestionably a step up to a faster game with a much deeper talent pool than we currently enjoy,” he said.

“Along with currently available player sources, the Elite structure opens up some global leagues that used to be part of our recruiting grounds in the former British National League.

“Those leagues produced many of our former star players, but have been largely unavailable to us under EPL player eligibility guidelines.”

Guildford’s addition to the EIHL was also welcomed by chairman, Tony Smith, who believes the league will be much stronger with 12 teams next season.

“First of all, I’m delighted to welcome Guildford Flames into the Elite League ranks next season and their inclusion gives our league much strength going forward,” said Smith.

“With MK Lightning also competing from next season, it’s an exciting time and our growth is a definite positive as we look to the future.

“Guildford are an established force in the English Premier League and they have a history of success at that level, which will stand them in good stead.

“I’m certainly looking forward to seeing them next season and it promises to be a great season ahead.”

Smith refused to confirm details of next season’s league and Conference structure, saying this was still being reviewed.

(Image permission: John Uwins)

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