Welcome to the UK and the home of the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), the league currently comprises of ten teams based across the UK, in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
The league was formed in 2003, taking over from the Ice Hockey Superleague and I suppose you could say it’s the NHL of the UK being that it’s the highest level of competition in the country. The teams are spread across the four countries of the UK with England and Scotland hosting the majority of the teams between them.
These teams areas below and each has a link to the teams website:
- Coventry Blaze
- Sheffield Steelers (current title holders)
- Manchester Storm
- Nottingham Panthers
- Belfast Giants
- Braehead Clan
- Dundee Stars
- Edinburgh Capitals
- Fife Flyers
- Cardiff Devils
I have only recently discovered the league, having been an NHL fan for nearly a year now. I didn’t even know it existed in the UK until a friend introduced me to the Sheffield Steelers and I attended by first game on the 2nd September 2015 against the Frolunda Indians.
Unfortunately it has been plagued with problems over the years but since 2010 it has been pretty stable, however I don’t believe it receives the media attention it deserves. A few publications chose to give details of scores and little coverage to some of the teams during the NHL lockout of 2004-05, especially of the NHL players that came over to play due to the situation in the National Hockey League.
Having watched the NHL on the TV I went into the game with certain expectations as to what the atmosphere and the game would be like. I’d heard from people on social media that games in the UK were a little different to the US and Canada, but when I arrived at a sold out Sheffield Arena I was shocked to see it so full and the crowd so loud. It’s fast paced, full of action and a sight to behold. Looking around the arena to see an array of orange and a smattering of NHL jerseys it’s clear to see that I wasn’t the only one that was glad to be here and looking forward to the game. I have since been to a couple of other games and I have to admit it’s the most fun I’ve had on a night out!
Ice Hockey is the fasted growing indoor sport in the United Kingdom and I can see why. The teams are comprised of not only UK players but from all over the world and the calibre of play is incredible to watch. Though the rinks here are larger than the NHL standard, it doesn’t make a blind bit of difference to play and from my first game I’ve been hooked ever since, going to watch any team I get the chance to.
I’d urge anyone in the UK who is at a loose end on the weekend to go and check out your local team. Show them some support and enjoy a great game of Ice Hockey. The links to each of the teams will take you through to the teams websites. It’s absolutely worth the money and entertaining for those young and old, give it a shot. What have you got to lose?