NIHL SPRING CUP SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
The EIHA and NIHL National Division clubs are pleased to announce the fixtures for the forthcoming Spring Cup, the first phase of the Return To Play for senior hockey in the EIHA structure.
Seven weeks of National Division action begin this Saturday, February 13, running through until the end of March with five teams playing a total of 12 games each in that time.
Games are being played behind closed doors but will all be able to watch on live stream, following the successful pilot of the platform in the Streaming Series last November.
Swindon Wildcats and Sheffield Steeldogs have already confirmed their home and home series to open the competition, we can now confirm fixtures as Bees, Raiders and Telford Tigers enter the fray from Saturday February 20.
Swindon Wildcats head coach Aaron Nell said: “We’re really happy to be playing again, we have put a lot of hard work into this and I know the players and I are itching to get going.
“I think it’s going to be great for the players of each five teams in terms of their mental health as well as hockey players.
“We’re looking forward to next weekend and we hope fans are all able to tune in.”
Sheffield co-owner Ali Cree added: “We are keen to build on how the team played in November and supported Greg in tweaking that side to have a team of locally based players who should create more entertaining hockey.
“Everyone is so excited to be back in action and looking forward to taking on Swindon next weekend.”
Doug Sheppard, head coach at the Bees said: “After a long, challenging eleven months in the history of Bees IHC, we are excited to be returning to action, especially for our fanbase who at one point might have felt the club they support was going to disappear.
“The Spring Cup presents us with a great opportunity to get most of our regular players back where they belong – out on the ice, together as a team.
“But it will also be a great opportunity for our prospects to train with and play against international level talent, which will also have huge benefits for their development moving forwards.”
Sheppard’s opposite number at Telford Tigers, Tom Watkins said: “The Spring Cup has provided us with timely boost at a time when it seemed any hockey this season would be lost.
“There will be nothing normal about this competition, with all fixtures played behind closed doors, no fans in the building, but it is up to us a team to create our own atmosphere in the rink and on the bench.
“I’m sure after such a long layoff I don’t think anyone will require motivating. It’s great news that all teams will be live streaming games, this is fantastic news for the fans.”
Raiders head coach Sean Easton added: “It will be great to be back behind the bench again and have the team on the ice.
“The Spring Cup will give us the chance to play our part in getting the sport up and running again and we hope the fans will follow the games online and support all clubs as much as they can.”
All NIHL Spring Cup games will be shown online, details and tickets can be found on each club website and social media. The NIHL Twitter account is @NIHLhockey and will have regular updates throughout the tournament, while full fixtures, results and stats will be on the website www.eiha.co.uk/nihl.
EIHA director Andrew Miller talks to the BBC about the importance of the Spring Cup and getting our athletes back on ice.
BBC interview ← link