Four more teams are set to return to play after the EIHA announced the next stage of their return to play plan.
Blackburn Hawks, Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Scimitars and Widnes Wild will all take part in a series of games over February and March, with all clubs granted ‘elite status’ under DCMS guidelines to be able to play.
The series will take place in the context of any forthcoming government announcements impacting elite sport competitions.
The first games will be over the weekend of February 27/28 and will run through to the end of March, with the teams a mix of NIHL1 and former NIHL2 clubs who will all be in competition.
Round robin fixtures will be announced in the coming days and, as games will be played behind closed doors, teams will do everything they can to either stream the games live or to produce a highlights package, as well as ensuring there is full social media coverage of the games to involve supporters as much as possible.
NIHL: Return to Play for North quartet.
— English Ice Hockey (@EIHA_Official) February 15, 2021
Throughout the competition the safety of everyone involved – players, officials, volunteers, rink staff – will be paramount.
All players will be subject to weekly testing and at all times our teams and venues will comply with both current and future government regulations and the return to play protocols from the EIHA.
The inclusion of Sheffield Scimitars is a positive step forward as they continue to bring through young ice hockey talent in the Yorkshire area and it’s one that excites chairman Martin Peters.
“Over the last few months the pause to hockey has given us time to think about where we want to be, and the committee were unanimous that our senior club should be playing at the highest level possible to give our players the best opportunity for development on their player pathway,” he said in a statement on Sheffield Ice Hockey Academy’s Facebook page.
“For the Scimitars that means North Division 1 and we are grateful to the NIHL and clubs for accepting us in the return to play series. We will continue our plans for the next full season and work with the league and other clubs to make the stay in Division 1 permanent.”