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The British Ice Hockey Superleague (BISL, also known as the Sekonda Ice Hockey Superleague from 1998–99 for sponsorship reasons) was a professional ice hockey league in the United Kingdom between 1996 and 2003. Formed in 1995, it replaced the Premier Division of the British Hockey League, it was the highest level of ice hockey competition in the United Kingdom. It was disbanded after the 2002-2003 season and replaced by the Elite Ice Hockey League. Unlike its North American counterparts, the Superleague was not divided into conferences; teams competed in a single division.

HistoryEdit

British ice hockey's structure underwent major reorganisation in 1996. The British Hockey League (the highest senior competition since 1982) was disbanded and replaced by the Ice Hockey Superleague and British National League.

The Ice Hockey Superleague Ltd was established on 1 November 1995 and held its first season in 1996-1997 with eight founding clubs - Ayr Scottish Eagles, Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, Cardiff Devils, Manchester Storm, Newcastle Cobras Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers.[1]

OverviewEdit

Several competitions fell under the jurisdiction of the of the Superleague. The Superleague ran a total of four competitions: the League, the Play-offs, the Express Cup and the Benson and Hedges Cup. The league consisted of a single division, each team playing three home games and three away games against the other teams in the league. Two points were awarded for a win and one point for an overtime defeat. Overtime consisted of 10 minutes of sudden death. The team that had most points after all fixtures were completed were declared Superleague champions.[2]

After the regular season was complete, the teams would be entered into the play-offs, the winner of which won the British Championship.[3] The teams were entered into two groups, Group A and Group B, each team playing three home games and three away games against the other teams in the group. Two points were awarded for a win and one point for an overtime defeat. Overtime consisted of 10 minutes of sudden death. The top two teams in each group qualified for the semi-finals, which were straight knockout matches. Both the semi finals and final took place over the course of a weekend.[3]

The Superleague was governed by a board of directors who were the owners of the participating teams with Martin Weddell as Chairman. The chief executive Ian Taylor from 1996–02 was replaced by the league's former secretary, Brian Storey in what would be the leagues final season of 2003.[4] A system of promotion and relegation was not operated by the Superleague; teams entered the league on the basis of a decision by the Board of Directors, however the British National league was regarded as the league below the level of the Superleague.

TrophyEdit

The trophy that was awarded to the winners of the superleague, was called the Ice hockey superleague trophy. It was a silver replica of a George III Monteith Bowl. In the inaugural season, the trophy was taken around the arenas of the superleague teams and publicly displayed on the following dates:[5]

  • 21 September 1996 - Bracknell
  • 22 September 1996 - Cardiff
  • 1 October 1996 - Nottingham
  • 5 October 1996 - Sheffield
  • 10 October 1996 - Newcastle
  • 10 November 1996 - Ayr
  • 17 November 1996 - Manchester
  • 23 November 1996 - Basingstoke

The trophy itself resembled a Monteith bowl used to cool wine (or punch) glasses that are suspended by their feet through the scallop-edged rim of the bowl. The bowl itself was made of silver, was 14 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall with a mahogany plinth.[5]

Sekonda sponsorshipEdit

In 1998, the Superleague secured a major sponsorship deal with Sekonda. Sekonda remained the title sponsor until 2002, during which time the league was known as the Sekonda Ice Hockey Superleague. During this time, the man of the match awards were presented with a Sekonda watch.

Each month one of the man of the match winners would be selected as the Sekonda Face to Watch. At the end of each season the Sekonda Superleague Player of the Year would be selected from the Sekonda Face to Watch winners by a panel of journalists — except for the season 2001–02 when Sekonda's sponsorship finished part way through the season.[6]

Year October November December January February March
1998–99 Greg Hadden Kip Noble Frank Pietrangelo Paul Adey Grant Sjerven Shayne McCosh
1999–00 Ed Courtenay Mark Cavallin Tony Hand Steve Thornton Rob Stewart Jimmy Hibbert
2000–01 Trevor Robins Tony Hand Stevie Lyle Shayne McCosh David Longstaff Joe Cardarelli
2001–02 Mark Cadotte Colin Ward Scott Allison

(names in bold won the Sekonda Superleague Player of the Year award)

CollapseEdit

The Cardiff Devils and Newcastle Jesters pulled out of the league in 2001, reducing the membership of the Superleague to seven clubs.[7][8]

Manchester Storm and the Scottish Eagles collapsed within a week of one another at the beginning of the 2002–03 season, leaving just five teams remaining.[9]

In December 2002 the Bracknell Bees announced their intention to resign from the league to join the BNL at the end of the season and uncertainty surrounded the future of the London Knights and their London Arena home.

Owing a large debt to Ice Hockey UK and facing the prospect of having only three member clubs, the Superleague put itself into liquidation on 30 April 2003.[10]

Elite ice hockey leagueEdit

The Elite Ice Hockey League was formed by the remaining three clubs - the Belfast Giants, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers - and played their first season on 12 September 2003. The Elite league is seen as the successor league to the Ice Hockey Superleague.[10]

Participating clubsEdit

The superleague was formed with eight founding clubs, with nine participating at any one time at its peak. Ten clubs have played in the Superleague.

Club Founded City Arena(s) Capacity Years in BISL
Ayr Scottish Eagles* 1996 Ayr Centrum Arena 2,733 1996–2002
Basingstoke Bison* 1988 Basingstoke Planet Ice Silverdome 2,000 1996–1998
Belfast Giants 2000 Belfast Odyssey Arena 8,300 2000–2003
Bracknell Bees* 1987 Bracknell John Nike Leisuresport Complex 1996–2003
Cardiff Devils* 1986 Cardiff Cardiff Arena 2,500 1996–2001
London Knights 1998 London London Arena 12,500 1998–2003
Manchester Storm* 1995 Manchester Manchester Evening News Arena 17,245 1995 - 2002
Newcastle Cobras* 1996 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Telewest Arena 4,500 1996–1998
Newcastle Riverkings 1998 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Telewest Arena 4,500 1998–2000
Newcastle Jesters 2000 Newcastle-upon-Tyne Telewest Arena 4,500 2000–2001
Nottingham Panthers* 1946 Nottingham National Ice Centre 10,000 1996–2003
Scottish Eagles 2002 Renfrewshire Braehead Arena 4,000 2002 - 2003
Sheffield Steelers* 1991 Sheffield Sheffield Arena 8,500 1996–2003

* Denotes founding member
† Club folded in the 2002-03 season.

ChampionsEdit

Season League Play-Offs Challenge Cup Benson & Hedges Cup
Champions Runners-Up Champions Runners-Up Winners Runners-Up Winners Runners-Up
1996–97 Cardiff Devils Sheffield Steelers Sheffield Steelers Nottingham Panthers Nottingham Panthers Ayr Scottish Eagles
1997–98 Ayr Scottish Eagles Manchester Storm Ayr Scottish Eagles Cardiff Devils Ayr Scottish Eagles Bracknell Bees Ayr Scottish Eagles Cardiff Devils
1998-99 Manchester Storm Cardiff Devils Cardiff Devils Nottingham Panthers Sheffield Steelers Nottingham Panthers Nottingham Panthers Ayr Scottish Eagles
1999-00 Bracknell Bees Sheffield Steelers London Knights Newcastle Riverkings Sheffield Steelers Nottingham Panthers Manchester Storm London Knights
2000-01 Sheffield Steelers Cardiff Devils Sheffield Steelers London Knights Sheffield Steelers Ayr Scottish Eagles Sheffield Steelers Newcastle Jesters
2001-02 Belfast Giants Ayr Scottish Eagles Sheffield Steelers Manchester Storm Ayr Scottish Eagles Belfast Giants
2002-03 Sheffield Steelers Belfast Giants Belfast Giants London Knights Sheffield Steelers Nottingham Panthers


NotesEdit

  1. Centrum Area Match Programme (17.10.1996). Ayr Scottish Eagles v Manchester Storm, p14
  2. Centrum Area Match Programme (17.10.1996). Ayr Scottish Eagles v Manchester Storm, p18
  3. 3.0 3.1 Centrum Area Match Programme (12.03.1997). Ayr Scottish Eagles v Manchester Storm, p14
  4. BBC News. "Change at the top for Superleague", BBC, 2002-04-30. Retrieved on 2011-11-19. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Centrum Area Match Programme (17.10.1996). Ayr Scottish Eagles v Manchester Storm, p4
  6. AZHockey. "Sekonda Superleague Player of the Year", azhockey.com, 2008-12-19. Retrieved on 2011-11-19. 
  7. BBC News. "Cardiff loses Superleague status", BBC, 2001-05-09. Retrieved on 2011-11-19. 
  8. SportBusiness. "Newcastle Jesters face expulsion", sportbusiness.com, 2001-10-18. Retrieved on 2011-11-19. 
  9. BBC. "Eagles forced out", bbc.co.uk, 2002-11-14. Retrieved on 2006-07-02. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 BBC. "Elite League "will go ahead"", BBC News, 2003-05-31. Retrieved on 2006-07-02. 

See alsoEdit

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