British Ice Hockey League Champions - History


Prior to the formation of the British National League, England and Scotland each had their own competitions. The English League was founded in 1931 with the Scottish National League being formed a year later. The majority of English League clubs left to form the English National League in 1935, leading the disbandment of the English League at the end of the 1935–36 season. The Scottish National League and English National League both continued until 1954. In that year the decision was taken to amalgamate the two leagues into one. The new competition initially fielded 12 sides in its inaugural season, four from England and eight from Scotland. The Dunfermline Vikings withdrew from the league in early 1955 and at the end of the season six of the seven remaining Scottish sides withdrew, leaving the league with five members. This fell to four following the closure of Harringay Arena in 1958 but increased again to five in 1959 following the admission of Streatham. The league was disbanded following the 1959–60 season.

Following the closure of the British National League, no league competition took place in the United Kingdom for the next six years. Instead clubs, some of which did not have a home rink, participated in rink tournaments. In 1966 the Northern League was formed. This league was made up of teams from Scotland and North East England and was the country's only league for four years. The Southern League was established in 1970 and was divided into the English League North and Inter-City League in 1978. The British Hockey League was formed in 1982 with the Premier Division being launched a season later. There has been a British league continuously since then, although there have been three different organizations and the number of teams taking part has varied from twelve between 1993 and 1995 to five in 2002–03. The current Elite Ice Hockey League was established in 2003.

In the 32 seasons in which a British league competition has been organized, a total of 40 clubs have taken part (although some clubs, such as the Ice Hockey Superleague's Newcastle franchise, have existed under different names). Of these 16 have won the league championship. The most successful club is the Sheffield Steelers, who have won the championship on seven occasions followed by the now-defunct Durham Wasps who won the title five times. The Cardiff Devils and the Coventry Blaze have each been champions four time. Of the other teams currently playing in the Elite Ice Hockey League, the Belfast Giants have been champions three times while the Nottingham Panthers, the only club to have played in all 35 seasons, have won the title once. The Murrayfield Racers, a predecessor of the Edinburgh Capitals, won the championship on two occasions. The Durham Wasps, Murrayfield Racers, Cardiff Devils, Sheffield Steelers and Coventry Blaze are the only sides to have successfully defended a title.

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