The NIHL National owners group has tonight released an update on an upcoming series of games which will be played during February and March. AIB MK Lightning was very much part of the planning and discussion of these fixtures, but we have decided not to take part in these games.
We can see there are a number of benefits in these games taking place, but for us we would prefer to focus on our long term strength and sustainability with a view to participating in the full Season return to play we hope to see in September. We’ll maintain our close working relationship with the NIHL National owners group and will work out with them what role if any we’d like to play in phase 2 in April/May. Right now we’re not ruling this in or out.
Returning to play is something we desperately want. It’s not just the return of players to the ice which is important, but the ability for everyone to enjoy both the game and the experience of an amazing night out. Enabling this return is what we are focusing our efforts on. We’d like to thank our partner Planet Ice who have worked with us and have supported us as we developed our plans.
Season Ticket holders have been emailed directly about their options. In a nutshell, all tickets can rollover to next Season and you don’t need to do anything. Recognising everyone has different circumstances, if you’d like to understand your options for a refund then drop us a line at email@example.com. Honestly, we are volunteers who run the club, so our huge preference is to roll your ticket forwards – but we’ll happily sort your refund if that’s what you wish.
We’ll be back with a further update when we have one but for now, stay safe, follow government advice, and we’ll see you back on the ice as soon as we can.
Full NIHL National Owners Group Press Release:
The NIHL National owners group has been working hard with the EIHA and rink operators over the past months to determine options for returning to play. We are hugely grateful for the collaboration, support and teamwork across all these groups and today we’d like to confirm our plans going forward.
Phase one of the Return to Play process will see five teams taking part in a National League Spring Cup during February and March. This competition will see 2 of the Streaming Series teams (Sheffield and Swindon) joined by the Bees, Raiders and Telford Tigers. Here’s the details:
- 5 teams playing each other home and away over 7 weekends each team playing each other 3 times for a total of 12 games each
- All games to be played behind closed doors, with streaming where facilities are available
- Points to be allocated using the usual league rules, with the top placed team at the end of the series awarded the cup If fixtures cannot be played as scheduled, the teams in conjunction with the EIHA will determine the appropriate award or rescheduling of the game.
Phase two of the Return to Play process will give all ten teams of the NIHL National division the chance to participate in a league competition during April and May, detail will be confirmed at a later date.
In developing this series, we have been heavily focused on safety, and our role as an Elite Sport during the current National Lockdown. At all times teams will comply with government regulations and the return to play rules from the EIHA. To increase our insight and warning of any potential COVID infections, all teams will also be running weekly Covid testing of all players with a clear communication plan in the event of positive test results.
All in all, we are now at a key moment for NIHL National teams returning to the ice. If we are able to do this, it will provide a real boost to the mental health of players, coaches, staff and fans, and be another step towards the survival and wider return of our sport as the benefit of Covid vaccinations is seen across the country.
We will release fixture information and further details in the coming days and look forward to beginning the competition. We’re doing everything we can to make this safely happen. Thank you so much for your support and patience and we will see you on the ice soon!