Ultimate Windows sponsored Billingham Stars

Whitley Warriors will look to defend their NIHL North 1 league title this season as part of an eight-strong division ready for puck drop in September.

Taking part in North 1 this season will be Billingham Stars, Blackburn Hawks, Nottingham Lions, Sheffield Scimitars, Solihull Barons, Solway Sharks, Whitley Warriors and Widnes Wild.

The league campaign will start on September 11 with sides playing 2 home and 2 away against each other. Regular season play runs until April 10 after which the playoffs will begin. A quarter final round will see the eight teams play two-legged ties (1v8 2v7 3v6 4v5) over weekend of April 16/17 with the four winners moving to a Finals Weekend on April 23 & 24.

The North 1 league winners will also feature in at National Championship game against the South 1 winners at Coventry on Sunday May 1 as part of the NIHL National Finals weekend.

Alongside the league there will also be a cup competition with the competing teams split into two groups and play the other teams in their group once home and once away.

There is also the possibility of two additional teams from outside the EIHA taking part in the Cup so final draw details will be announced as soon as they are confirmed.

The top two sides in each group will play crossover two-legged semi finals (Group 1 winner v Group 2 runner up etc) scheduled for first two weekends in December. The two-legged Cup Final will be played between 8 and 16 January 2022.

One of the teams stepping up to North 1 following a successful spring series behind closed doors is the Sheffield Scimitars.

Their head coach Steve Weeks said: "It was great for the Sheffield Scimitars to take part in the 'return to play' series, however the return of a full, regular season of hockey is what I know players and fans across the country have been waiting for.

"The boys and I are looking forward to getting back into action and testing ourselves in what I'm sure will be a fast-paced, exciting and highly competitive North 1 league.

"I'd like to thank the people who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get hockey back on its feet again."

Clubs are currently working with the NIHL fixtures secretary to produce the schedule which will be released as soon as practically possible.

Pre-season - September 4-5 2021
Regular season start - September 11 2021
Regular season end - April 10 2022
Cup semi finals - December 4/5 11/12 2021
Cup Final - January 8/9 15/16 2022
Playoff quarter finals - April 16-17 2022
Playoff Finals Weekend - April 23-24 2022
National Final v S1 champion - May 1 2022

Tomorrow (Saturday) will see the breakdown of the 21/22 lineup for the South 1 division.