Following on from the confirmation of our league structure – today sees the announcement of the playoff format for NIHL1 this season.
The South will retain their home-and-away double header format with the usual top-8 teams qualifying for 3 weekends of successive rounds to crown a Southern playoff champion. The Northern NIHL1 will also be changing their playoffs to match.
What’s new is that we’ll have a National Championship in NIHL1 for the first time in 9 years. The two regional playoff finalists from the North and South will then come together for a National Finals weekend (at a central location yet to be confirmed) with semi-finals on the Saturday and the final on the Sunday.
For me this is very much the best of both worlds. I always really liked the format for playoffs we had in the South with double-header rounds for quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. It meant the teams involved would have income for the weeks they needed to continue playing for and built a real feeling of excitement up to the final weekend. However, we also now get the National Final weekend that the EPL clubs are also used to (and which their fans were lamenting the possible demise of) as a showcase of hockey on which to end the NIHL1 season.
For NIHL1 North who previously saw just the top-4 qualifying for a single playoff weekend, it will mean that more clubs will be involved in playoff hockey and their playoff season will last for a bit longer.
I have seen arguments in both directions for why a single playoff weekend is better/worse than multiple double-header weekends – now we have both!
So here’s to a month-long playoff season with 31 games across the country! Becoming national champion is sure as hell going to be tough!
On a lighter note – this also means the #piamgplayoffs competition just got bigger again!
The full EIHA press release can be seen below:
NIHL confirm playoff weekend will crown National Champions
The League Management Committee of National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) are delighted to confirm that there will be a National Playoff Championship weekend at the end of the 17/18 season.
Over the last two weekends the South and North clubs have met to agree membership of their leagues and playing format for the regular season.
The LMC can now confirm that the playoffs will take place over a four week period at the end of the regular season, culminating in a Playoff Weekend at a central venue.
In both NIHL North and South D1 the top eight teams will qualify for the playoffs. The first three rounds will be regionalised to achieve a North and South playoff champion.
The regional rounds will be a home and away two-legged, aggregate score tie.
The likely timetable will be:
Week 1 – Regional QF North 1v8 2v7 3v6 4v5. South 1v8 2v7 3v6 4v5
Week 2 – Regional SF North (1 or 8) v (4 or 5), (2 or 7) v (3 or 6). South (1 or 8) v (4 or 5), (2 v 7) v (3 v 6)
Week 3 – Regional Final North, Regional Final South
Week 4 – National Playoff Championship (weekend format)
The weekend will feature the two playoff finalists from NIHL North and South playing crossover semi finals on the Saturday, ie North 1 v South 2, South 1 v North 2. The Grand Final will face off on the Sunday.
There are likely to be other fixtures included in the weekend with more details to follow in due course as arrangements are firmed up.
The LMC are working hard with our stakeholders to confirm the date for this showpiece event – once everything is confirmed the details will be published via clubs and on EIHA media platforms.
An NIHL spokesperson said: “This is an exciting development to celebrate the first season of a massively expanded National League.
“A playoff weekend is a fantastic way to end the season, and a huge part of British hockey’s traditions. The LMC are delighted to be able to achieve a joined up, National Finals weekend.
“We are grateful to our clubs for their unanimous support for the idea over the past two weeks at the section meetings and the LMC will work hard to confirm all details as soon as possible.”