There are thousands of hockey leagues all around the world. Too many to list here and many we don’t even know about! Here’s the ones worth knowing:

National Hockey League (NHL)

National Hockey League - Wikipedia

Consisting of 32 teams spread across the United States and Canada, the NHL is the most prestigious hockey league in the world.

The NHL is split into two ‘conferences’. Eastern and Western consisting of (you guessed it) teams based in the East and teams based in the West.

These conferences are then further divided into ‘divisions’: Atlantic and Metropolitan in the Eastern Conference, Pacific and Central in the Western Conference.

Throughout the season, each team will play against other teams in their division four or five times. Additionally, they will play the other teams in their conference three times.

The NHL regular season starts in October and concludes around April. This is when the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. Only 16 teams of the 31 compete in this: the top 3 teams from each division as well as the top 2 wildcard teams from each conference.

Stanley Cup Champions
The Stanley Cup

The Stanley Cup is the most sought after trophy in the world of hockey and the oldest trophy to be awarded to a professioanl sports franchise in North America.

Regardless of whether you intend to follow it closely or not, we still recommend choosing an NHL team to ‘support’. NHL games offer some of the highest quality play in the world. Watch the teams and choose one which suits you. Analyse how they play, don’t just pick the winning team. Trust me, the Leafs always end up tanking.

Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL)

The EIHL is the highest level of ice hockey competition in the UK. It consists of only 10 teams:

  • Belfast Giants
  • Cardiff Devils
  • Coventry Blaze
  • Dundee Stars
  • Fife Flyers
  • Glasgow Clan
  • Guildford Flames
  • Manchester Storm
  • Nottingham Panthers
  • Sheffield Steelers

Teams compete to stay at the top of the EIHL league table during the season. At the end of the regular season, the top 8 teams go to the playoffs to try and win the British Championship.

EIHL games tend to be as ‘big’ as possible. All teams must play in adequately-sized arenas to allow for large crowds and therefore a big atmosphere.

Although the EIHL is deemed to be the most skilled league, teams are not promoted or relegated. They enter the league subject to a decision made by the league’s board.

National Ice Hockey League (NIHL)

No, not the NHL. The National Ice Hockey League is considered the second tier of British ice hockey. Despite this, it still plays a crucial role in British ice hockey as many rinks in the UK will have an NIHL team, but not an EIHL team.

The following 10 teams comprise the top division of the NIHL (the national League):

  • Basingstoke Bison
  • Bracknell Bees
  • Hull Pirates
  • Leeds Chiefs
  • Milton Keynes Lightning
  • Peterborough Phantoms
  • London Raiders
  • Sheffield Steeldogs
  • Swindon Wildcats
  • Telford Tigers

Below the National League is division 1. This is split into North (Moralee) and South (Britton).

North (Moralee)

  • Billingham Stars
  • Nottingham Lions
  • Solihull Barons
  • Solway Sharks
  • Sutton Sting
  • Whitley Warriors
  • Bracknell Hornets

South (Britton)

  • Bracknell Hornets
  • Cardiff Fire
  • Chelmsford Chieftains
  • Invicta Dynamos
  • Milton Keynes Thunder
  • Oxford City Stars
  • Raiders 2
  • Slough Jets
  • Solent Devils
  • Streatham

The league then contains a second division with even more teams. There are 47 teams in the NIHL! For more information and for a full teams list please visit: https://eiha.co.uk/nihl/