The Invicta Dynamos will be pitted against some of the EPL’s finest in 2014/15 after agreeing to take part in a crossover tournament featuring a select number of NIHL South Division 1 sides and representatives of the league above.
In the English Challenge Cup the Mos will face-off against the Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Guildford Flames, Milton Keynes Lightning and the Swindon Wildcats of the EPL whilst the Chelmsford Chieftains and Wightlink Raiders will also feature from the NIHL in the regional group. Fixtures will be drawn from the regional line-up allowing NIHL sides the opportunity to test themselves against higher opposition whilst also improving links between the teams in both divisions. In a bid to promote the development of home-grown talent in a competitive environment any match-ups between EPL and NIHL outfits will be played to NIHL rules meaning just two imports can be named in team line-ups with only one permitted on the ice at any time. Meanwhile fixtures played between teams in the same league will come under their normal rules.
Speaking on the English Challenge Cup in a press release from the English Ice Hockey Association, Chairman Ken Taggart said, “This is a very exciting competition that has been put together and to have clubs from different leagues play each other is fantastic. For the supporters it means they will have the chance to see teams that they wouldn’t normally see and I expect clubs from the NIHL will want to take a scalp when they come up against the EPL sides. Of course, the EPL players won’t want to lose face so the matches will be very well fought. I have wanted the Challenge Cup to be a major part of the season for some time and now we have the format that will do that”.
The English Challenge Cup will has a number of sponsors with will be announced in the coming weeks but one of those sponsors is Red Touch Media – the company that owns the Telford Tigers. Wayne Scholes, CEO of Red Touch Media, said, “It is one of the ambitions of the league owners to improve links between the two leagues and see great collaboration between all involved in ice hockey in the UK. This competition will foster those links while also giving British players the chance to show what they’re capable of. This is ultimately about growing British talent and the competition is a great chance to showcase that talent”. Scholes then continued to add, “When we first looked at doing this we immediately saw the potential of a quality challenge cup competition. The EIHA have been supportive in developing the competition and I believe that it will become a major part of the ice hockey calendar”.
Involvement in the English Challenge Cup will see four of last season’s top five placed sides in the EPL visit the Silver Blades Gillingham with the Dynamos determined to make their mark in the competition. A full list of fixtures will be released in the near future with the new season set to get underway in early September.