5 imports for the EPL next season

Thursday, 19th May 2016

Clubs in the English Premier Ice Hockey League will be allowed to ice a maximum of five non UK-trained players in games from the 2016-17 season.

The ruling was voted on by club owners, to increase the previous limit from four, following a year widely acknowledged as a high point for the EPIHL.

It is hoped the move will allow member sides to increase public awareness of the EPIHL, helping them to focus further on investment in youth development.

Teams will, however, still need to ensure that a minimum of three UK-trained players are on the ice at all times during games.

Ken Taggart, Chairman of the English Ice Hockey Association, said: “This is a move, by the team owners, to ensure the EPIHL retains its place as a high quality, yet viable top tier of English Ice Hockey. 

“We’ve seen an huge change in standards over the last five years, so to continue this trend, club owners have voted to increase the limit to five non UK-trained players, who must still hold an EU passport, or a UK passport.

“I am determined that youth development will remain a key part of this league’s remit. That’s why I have stipulated that teams must still have a minimum of three UK-trained players on the ice at all times.”

Clubs decided on the increase after the departure of a number of high-profile British players during the early part of the off-season.

The move is likely to close the gap to the Elite Ice Hockey League, giving UK-trained players an opportunity to play regularly at a high level.

Mr Taggart added: “This league has supplied UK-trained players to other leagues for many years and will of course continue to do so. It is my hope that this change will help to enrich the flow of talent

“Increasing the standard of the EPIHL will give young players the chance to play regularly at a much higher level and eventually, that will filter through to the national team.

“We are all united in our desire to see a successful Great Britain side, which is what this change is building towards. It won’t happen overnight, of course, but this is a vital part of that process.”

Phoenix MD Neil Morris said,"My belief is that we need to improve the quality  of the product we put onto the ice. In the short term, we can do this by the addition of imported players. In the long term, we need to take a long hard look at our player development program.

"The EIHA are working hard behind the scenes looking at many different methods of enhancing the introduction of Ice Hockey to more youngsters in this country. More funding needs to be realised to be able to exploit the potential of the many yougsters that are trained on home soil if we are going to grow the sport succesfully."