A twelve-team national cup competition will be launched for the 2017/18 season as National Ice Hockey League format and structure discussions have been concluded ahead of the new campaign.
The twelve teams will initially play in four regionalised groups, leading to knock-out stages with an eventual National Cup Final.
Taking part in the NIHL National Cup are:
Group A: Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Solway Sharks
Group B: Sheffield Steeldogs, Peterborough Phantoms, Hull Pirates
Group C: Invicta Dynamos, London Raiders, Streatham IHC
Group D: Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Swindon Wildcats
Group matches are two home, two away, against the other teams for a total of eight games. The top two sides move to quarter-finals to be held in early 2018.
Six clubs are also playing an Autumn Trophy which is scheduled to conclude by early December. The teams will play initially in two groups, playing one home and one away, before semi-finals and a final. The teams are split as follows:
Group A: Basingstoke Bison, Peterborough Phantoms, Sheffield Steeldogs
Group B: Bracknell Bees, Hull Pirates, Swindon Wildcats
There is no cup competition for Division 2 clubs in either north or south sections.
The set-up of the league competitions was confirmed late last month with two divisions in each of the north and south sections of the league.
D1 North (Moralee) and D2 North (Laidler) each have ten teams, D1 South (Britton) has nine teams, while D2 South (Wilkinson) has 14 teams.
Play-offs for D1 teams will feature the top eight sides playing home and away ties over three successive weekends to crown respective north and south champions.
A showpiece finals weekend will then be held with two teams from the north and two from the south to decide the National Play-off Championship. The date and venue of the finals weekend will be confirmed in due course.
Division 2 play-off details are now confirmed. In D2 North (Laidler) the top four sides will contest a play-off weekend to decide their championship.
D2 South (Wilkinson) will feature the top eight sides playing two-legged quarter-finals before the final four sides will contest a play-off weekend. Dates and venues will be announced as soon as all details are confirmed.
Promotion and relegation between divisions in both the north and south have been aligned, with both sides operating an automatic one up, one down system.
In year one there will be no automatic relegation from D1 South (Britton) to enable the division to return to ten teams.
The 2017/18 NIHL season is currently expected to begin on the weekend of 2nd/3rd September.
(Image permission: David Morrison)