Hockey / ELITE LEAGUE FIXTURES 2017/18 RELEASED

ELITE LEAGUE FIXTURES 2017/18 RELEASED

Date:  Source: Elite Ice Hockey League

The full fixture list for the 2017/18 Elite Ice Hockey League season have been announced.

Competitive action gets under way on Saturday 2nd September 2017 when Braehead Clan host Manchester Storm while Dundee Stars take on Belfast Giants in the Challenge Cup.

Fife Flyers will be at home to the Giants the following day with Braehead heading to Manchester in a reverse fixture, once again in the cup.

The first league game of the new campaign will see the Giants entertain one of the two new teams joining the league this season, Guildford Flames on Saturday 9th September.

Double winners Cardiff Devils take on the other league new boys Milton Keynes Lightning in the Challenge Cup, which they hold, in their first game of the season.

Then they begin the defence of their league title when they return to the place where they won it, Sheffield Steelers on Saturday 16th September.

For the first time, the Elite League will consist of 12 teams, split into three Conferences of four.

Scottish quartet Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers will play in the Gardiner Conference.

Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers will compete in the Erhardt Conference.

And the new Patton Conference will consist of Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm, along with Milton Keynes Lightning and Guildford Flames.

Each team will play teams in their own conference four times at home and four times away and against teams in the other conferences twice home and twice away.

This will give each team a total of 28 homes games and 28 away games for a total schedule of 56 games – up four games from last year.

The final weekend of the regular season will be the 24th and 25th March 2018.

The Challenge Cup has also been reformatted as a result of the increased number of teams and will now have three groups of four.

Braehead, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield make up Group A, Belfast, Dundee, Edinburgh and Fife make up Group B while Group C has Cardiff, Coventry, Guildford and Milton Keynes.

Each team will play against teams in their own group once at home and once away, totalling three home games and three away games.

The top two in each group will advance to the quarter final stage of the competition, with two wild card teams completing the quarter final line up.

Dates and seeding information regarding the play-off finals weekend 2018 will follow in due course.

But with the fixtures signifying the next step to the build-up towards the new 2017-18 season, EIHL chairman Tony Smith is excited about the campaign ahead.

“The release of the schedule is a big step in approaching what promises to be another fascinating season for all of our clubs”, he said.

“Having two new teams gave the compiling of fixtures a new challenge, not to mention the revamped Conferences and Challenge Cup groups.

“All teams have worked together to deliver a schedule that will herald another exciting, tight and competitive season.

“Now the fans can look forward to planning their weekends and what away trips they’ll take in a title race I believe could be the most hotly contested in Elite League history.”

The full fixture list for all 12 teams can be found HERE