Fixtures set up for Flames opening Elite League season

The first set of Elite League fixtures for the Guildford Flames have been set.  It is a rather challenging but exciting start for Spectrum’s men with September games against league powerhouses Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers, Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers plus a re-acquaintance with former EPL partner Milton Keynes Lightning. 

After a challenge weekend against Lightning, including the home affair on Sunday, September 3rd at 6pm, the Flames open league play with a trip to Northern Ireland on Saturday, September 9th.  Surrey’s side get under Spectrum’s lights 24 hours later in Cup action against League and Cup reigning champion, Cardiff Devils. 

In all the Flames will contest 62 League and Cup games in addition to the opening challenge set.

“We certainly have our work cut out for us in September,” said Paul Dixon. “We have said all along that our goal this season is to be competitive from night to night, and we are comfortable we can achieve that with the roster we are putting together.”

“We expect to have an adjustment period, and improve as the season moves forward, and there is no better way to see what is going to be required of us than to test ourselves right out of the gate.”

“There will unquestionably be some learning experiences along the way, but we are in this for the long haul so it is sure going to be exciting to get out there and see where we start, then work to progress as a team moving forward from there.”

The Elite League is using a 3 conference format.  Braehead Clan, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers will form the Gardiner Conference.   Giants, Devils, Panthers and Steelers will complete the Erhardt Conference and the Flames will join Lightning, Coventry Blaze and Manchester Storm in the newly named Patton Conference, named after IIHF and British Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Major Bethune Minet “Peter” Patton. Patton was also a founding member of the IIHF in 1908 and was the inaugural president of the British Ice Hockey Association (BIHA) in 1914 as well as a member of the Great Britain team which won gold at the 1910 European Championships.

Format wise, each team will play teams in their own conference four times at home and four times away, while playing outside their conference twice at home and twice away.

The Group Stage of the Challenge Cup sees the 12 teams divided in to three groups of four:

Group A – Braehead Clan, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers

Group B – Belfast Giants, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers

Group C – Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Guildford Flames and Milton Keynes Lightning

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

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.

The wild cards will be made up of the two teams with the most points that do not automatically qualify, with normal tie breaking format to be used in the event of the teams being tied on points.

With 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.”

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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