UK Elite Ice Hockey League
The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) is a professional ice hockey league in the United Kingdom. Formed in 2003 following the demise of the Ice Hockey Superleague, it is the highest level of ice hockey competition in the United Kingdom. Initial sponsorship was from Rapid Solicitors. The league currently consists of ten teams, with representation from all four Home Nations – the only league in any sport to do so. In eight completed seasons the league has been won by four different teams. From the 2012–13 Season onwards the league features a northern conference (Gardiner Conference, named after Scottish-born former NHL goalie Charlie Gardiner) featuring Braehead (SCO), Dundee (SCO), Edinburgh (SCO), Fife (SCO) and Hull (ENG) and a Southern conference (Erhardt Conference, named after 1936 English Olympic Hockey Gold Medalist Carl Erhardt) featuring Belfast (NIR), Cardiff (WAL), Coventry (ENG), Nottingham (ENG) and Sheffield (ENG). Since 2012, the ten teams are split into two conferences, Gardiner and Erhardt – while previously all 10 teams competed in a single division, similar to most British sports. The top eight teams in the overall league standings qualify for the Elite League playoffs. The Elite League post-season is considerably shorter than playoff tournaments in North America; in the first round teams play a two-leg game (one home, one away) and the semi-finals and final take place over the course of a single weekend at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham.