NIHL Owners Group Announcement: 2023/24 Season. The Owners Group for the Planet Ice NIHL National teams met recently to finalise participation and to progress planning for the 2023/24 season.
We can confirm that 10 teams have made a commitment to contest the league next season. We’d like to give our best wishes to all the players, staff, fans and community around the Basingstoke Bison organisation after they have announced their hiatus from hockey for the 2023/24 season.
We also covered a number of key topics:
Non-British Trained players (NBTs)
From next season this is confirmed as three NBTs being allowed to ice, with no restriction on the number on the ice at any given time. We will monitor the use of NBT goaltenders and review any potential impact on the talent development of British-Trained goaltenders after one year.
Teams have agreed to apply limits to rosters to support and encourage development of British talent. The roster limits are a limit of 20 players + 2 Goaltenders.
- 11 player 25 or over (Born on or before December 31st 1998)
- 4 under 25 players (Born on or after January 1st 1999)
- 2 under 21 players (Born on or after January 1st 2003)
- 2 under 18 players (Born on or after January 1st 2006)
- 3 NBTs in addition to the above
Teams can therefore have 3 NBTs and 11 25 and overs, but the next player would then need to be under 25 and so on. It is designed to encourage depth in rosters to be developed through younger players, whilst still maintaining the core of the on ice quality.
We have been working collectively with Ice Hockey UK and the English Ice Hockey Association to develop and monitor the NBT and roster limit approaches.
2023/24 League Format
The 2023/24 competition will consist of 54 regular season games (3 home, 3 away against each other team in the league). The National Cup will be held across the first fixtures home and away against each team, followed by Semi-Finals and Final played across 2 legs each.
Playoffs will see the top 8 teams from the regular season compete in two groups of four across 3 weekends in a round robin format. The top 2 from each group will progress to the final 4 weekend.
Fixture dates will follow in the summer.
Collective Investment into League Development
The teams all agreed to collectively invest into developing league wide marketing, communications, website and stats reporting functions, recognising the significant lack of capability in this area in the 2022/23 season. As plans develop we will share more.
A spokesperson for the Owners Group said: “We are pleased that the 10 teams are committed for the upcoming season. The league is stronger since the addition of Bristol and Hull, and this year we have seen some fantastic, close, competitive hockey in every arena.”
They went on to say: “The work on shaping the roster as a whole is designed to promote development and sustainability in the game. We understand the worries that allowing NBT goalies will bring, so will monitor this strict one year trial, working with clubs and the governing body to see the effect it has.”
Speaking about the roster developments, the Ice Hockey UK said: “The board of IHUK are really pleased to see the NIHL National Division take such a bold move in looking to include the development of home grown GB talent as one of their top priorities going forward.
“IHUK and the ownership group have been in talks with Pete Russell, Head Coach of the GB Men’s national team to discuss how best to support the GB Programme, and settled on the proposal that has been put forward for the coming season.
“As mentioned, this will be subject to review after this coming season, particularly around how this will impact GB netminder development, as concerns have been raised that this could be adversely affected. We will all keep a watching brief.
“This is a hugely positive step, and we’d like to thank everyone involved for getting to this point. We hope to be able to make a further announcement in due course regarding other areas in which the pro leagues can support the development of GB home grown talent, both existing and emerging.
“We can’t wait to see what new GB talent is able to step up at the upcoming 2023 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group A, tournament being held in Nottingham, starting at the end of this month. We hope everyone who can comes to support GB on home ice, particularly in the run up to the King’s Coronation.”
All the teams have been very pleased with the development of the league this year, with growing attendances, improved on-ice quality and even deeper levels of co-operation between the team owners. We’re excited and optimistic for what the 2023/24 season will bring.
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