Sheffield Steelers is a professional ice hockey team located in Sheffield, England. It plays its home games at the FlyDSA Arena, it is a member of the Elite Ice Hockey League. The club's main sponsor is Sheffield Window Centre. Ice Hockey existed in amateur form in Sheffield, but the sport began its return to an era of arenas and stadium size crowds with the opening of the Sheffield Arena in 1991 and the creation of the Sheffield Steelers — the ice hockey team, to occupy the new arena; the Sheffield Arena was built as part of the city's facilities for the staging of the World Student Games, is a sizeable stadium seating 8,500 and located close to the city centre. Ronnie Wood and David Gardener-Brown were at the helm as the Marketing Director at the club and set about promoting ice hockey to a city raised on the footballing success of Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday. Wood had a specific target, seeking to attract children and families to the city's new sporting Arena, they began taking players to local football matches and parading them around the ground with mascots in an attempt to pull in football fans too.
Another marketing ploy was to give certain players nicknames to help the crowd associate with the new players. The Steelers were named in honour of Sheffield's industrial past, much like the American football team of the same name based in Pittsburgh and the sharing of nicknames are a coincidence; the American football team predates Sheffield's team by 58 years and was popular worldwide due to their dominance in the National Football League in the 1970s. Sheffield and Pittsburgh are considered sister cities; the Sheffield Steelers were the first fully professional ice hockey team in Great Britain, O'Brien suggested that there was a lot of resentment from the followers of other hockey teams who saw them as a "cheque book hockey club" able to buy whoever they chose. Sluyter questions the authenticity of the majority of Steelers fans in the club's early days. Sluyter suggested hockey fans of teams like Cardiff and Nottingham were ice hockey fans first and foremost, while Steelers' supporters were only Steelers fans, knew little of ice hockey outside of Sheffield.
However, it made little difference as Sheffield began breaking several British ice hockey attendance records, in March of that year added an extra 1,200 seats to the Arena to meet the growing demand. Sheffield Steelers had begun their first season in English Division One of the British Hockey League. One year Sheffield Steelers won promotion into the British Premier League, before going on to win this in 1995 — the last team to do so before the formation of the new British Ice Hockey Super League that year. On Sunday 3 December 2006, the Steelers played in their 1000th game; the game was against the Basingstoke Bison at the Hallam FM Arena, for which special orange jerseys had been made for the match. The Steelers lost the game the jerseys were all auctioned off at the game. In the 2000–01 campaign the Steelers completed a Grand Slam, becoming only the second club to win the Autumn Cup, Challenge Cup and Playoff Titles in the same season, they retained the Play-off title the following season, the first team to achieve this in the Superleague era, beating Manchester Storm on penalties in the Play-Off final, held at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham in front of a full house.
David Matsos was appointed as coach for the 2006–07 season. He led the Steelers to a fourth-place finish in a place in the Challenge Cup Finals; the club broke an Elite League Attendance record against the Manchester Phoenix with an attendance of 7,339. In 2007 team Owner Bob Phillips and his wife sold their other Elite League club the Cardiff Devils in order to concentrate on building the Steelers; the club won that season's Elite League Playoff Championship after beating the Coventry Blaze 2–0 in the final with goals from Johnathan Phillips and Dan Tessier. The Steelers were knocked out of the following season's Knockout Cup and Challenge Cup early, but finished first in a league campaign that saw them lose just three times in regulation, they made this a double by beating Nottingham Panthers 2–0 in the Play-Off final. The Steelers season ended in the Quarter Finals of the Play-offs after being knocked out by the Cardiff Devils; the 2010–11 season was preceded by a "walk-out" of Steelers management and office staff, after a vote of no confidence in Owner Bob Phillips.
Phillips put the club up for sale, in December 2010 Paul Ragan, the CEO and owner of the Cardiff Devils, finalised acquiring the rights to the Sheffield Steelers. The Steelers were at the top of the league for the majority of the season, battling it out with the Cardiff Devils.and won the league after back-to-back victories against the Braehead Clan. The Steelers won the league having more regulation time wins. After several rounds of negotiations, Simon decided not to renew his contract, Ryan Finnerty was installed as player/coach after. During that season Sheffield Steelers became the first EIHL team to win a medal in Europe after their appearance in the Continental Cup superfinal. Tony Smith took over as sole owner in August 2011 after buying out Paul Ragan; the Steelers won the 2013–14 Play-Off final 3–2 against Belfast Giants. At the end of season 2014–15 they beat the Cardiff Devils to clinch the Elite League title with 74 points. On 20 April 2015, they parted company with coach Gerard Adams.
They soon brought in former GB coach, as Head Coach and General Manager. At the end of season 2015–16 they became only the second club in the history of ice hockey to become back to back champ
The Belfast Giants are an ice hockey team from Belfast, Northern Ireland that compete in the Elite Ice Hockey League. As of the 2018-19 season, they are the current Elite League Champions and Challenge Cup winners, their main sponsor is Stena Line and home games are played at the SSE Arena Belfast. The Giants have won 11 major honours, including five league championship titles, as well as three Erhardt Conference titles; the Giants played their first match against Ayr on 1 December. Members of the now defunct Superleague, the Giants won the championship in 2001–02 and were play-off champions in 2002–03. With the Superleague's demise, there were concerns that the Giants would not survive because of major financial problems which had developed. Running up debts of £600,000 and facing the threat of liquidation creditors voted to accept 20p in the pound allowing the club to continue. One company was believed to be owed nearly £65,000. However, with the creation of the new Elite Ice Hockey League for the 2003–04 season, the Giants survived.
The Giants finished 4th in the league's first season, but failed to reach the post-season play-offs.. The Giants finished runners up in the 2004–05 season behind the Coventry Blaze but were winners of the Cross-over League Cup, played with teams from the BNL. In 2005, The Giants unveiled NHL All-Star and Olympic Gold Medal winner, Theo Fleury who made his debut against the Edinburgh Capitals; the Giants won 11–2, with Fleury scoring a hat-trick. With 4 additional assists and a fight, he was named man of the match. Besides Fleury, several other players who played in the NHL have played for the Giants. Kevin Westgarth is the latest incumbent from the NHL to don the Giants jersey, arriving from the Calgary Flames after several seasons in North America's top league. One corner of the SSE Arena is known as'Boomerang Corner' and a large group of fans who generate noise, bang drums and start most of the chants sit there, it is named in memory of long time Giants fan Stewart Boone. Any fans are invited to watch the game from the ‘Boomerang Corner’ as this section of the stadium is not reserved seating.
There used to be a traditional 4 sided scoreboard suspended over centre ice, but this has been replaced by two large video screens, one behind "Boomerang Corner" and the opposite corner of the arena for scores, info etc. Two traditional scoreboards are located near the other two corners. With an average attendance of around 4,561, the Giants are one of twelve Elite league ice hockey squads in the UK, they are the 3rd best supported team in the 70th in Europe. The average attendance in the Elite Ice Hockey League is 2,678. Sectarianism had long been seen as a significant problem in some sports in Northern Ireland; when the club was established, the Belfast Giants were keen that the club not attach itself to a particular faith or community, instead wanting to represent Belfast as a whole. A number of policies were subsequently introduced to try to ensure this. Particular clothing, which might have displayed a person's political or religious affiliation, were banned and flags were not permitted to be brought into the arena.
The national anthem of the United Kingdom, traditionally played before games at other arenas in the Elite League, is not played before Giants games. These policies have been successful and the Giants have built a large and enthusiastic fanbase who did not have to fear the sectarianism that marred other sports in Northern Ireland. Sponsors: Stena Line Boojum Founded: 2000 into the British Ice Hockey Superleague Primary Arena: SSE Arena Belfast, Training Arena: Dundonald International Ice Bowl Uniform Colours: White, Teal, Black Logo Design: shows Finn McCool with a hockey stick. Mascot: Finn McCool Motto: "In the land of the Giants, everyone is equal". Last Updated: 17 October 2018 4 Shane Johnson 11 Colin Ward 16 Rob Stewart 18 Graeme Walton 19 Colin Shields 27 Paxton Schulte 44 Todd Kelman 2 Brock Matheson 5 Will Colbert 9 Andrew Fournier 14 Theoren Fleury — former Stanley Cup-winning NHL player 14 Daymen Rycroft 14 Mike Forney — 2015–17 15 Scott Champagne 17 Gregory Stewart 24 Noah Clarke 15 Kevin Westgarth — former Stanley Cup-winning NHL player 43 Derrick Walser — former NHL defenceman and Belfast player/coach 2015–17 50 Matt Nickerson — former NHL draft pick, played for Belfast for two seasons - 2015–17 5 Jérôme Gauthier-Leduc — former Buffalo Sabres draft pick, played for Belfast February–June 2017 91 David Rutherford — played for Belfast between January 2016 and July 2017 before retiring.
Bradford Bulldogs are an English ice hockey team that play in the North Division of the English National Ice Hockey League. They play their home games at the Bradford Ice Arena, West Yorkshire, they were formed in 1978. The team, unlike most British sides contains an British roster, many who were born and taught to play ice hockey in Bradford; the team features a productive youth system which begins at under-7 level. The Bradford Bulldogs finished bottom of the English National Ice Hockey League Laidler Conference in the 2015/16 season.. Bradford Bulldogs website
The Cardiff Devils are a Welsh ice hockey team who play in the British Elite Ice Hockey League. The team plays out of Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay; the Devils lost the league on the final day after loosing 3-1 to Coventry Blaze, allowing the Belfast Giants to win the league. Cardiff will be hoping to defend that in April. Founded in 1986, the club became the dominant force in the sport in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning a total of 7 league titles; the Cardiff Devils were formed during the summer of 1986 when Sports Nationwide built the Wales National Ice Rink in the centre of Cardiff. John Lawless, a 25-year-old Canadian, was given the responsibility of setting up a brand new team, having been a trainee assistant manager at Peterborough who were owned by the same company; the club entered the British Ice Hockey League Structure at the bottom in Division 2 at a time when each team was only allowed a maximum of three import players. With Lawless deciding to play himself, he brought over fellow Canadians Perry Olivier and Bill Taylor to join him on the roster, with the remaining places going to British players, one of whom, Paul Morganti, a student at Cardiff University, had been raised in Canada and had significant high school hockey experience.
With the WNIR not ready for the start of the season, the team played several games away from home to begin with. The Cardiff Devils' first game was a Challenge match away to the Oxford City Stars on 12 October 1986. Despite Oxford playing in the division above, the Devils won the game 9–8. Cardiff got to play their first game at the WNIR on 30 November 1986 where a crowd of 2500 saw their new heroes humiliate Ashfield Islanders 32–0. Devils finished the league season unbeaten with 13 wins and 1 draw from 14 games to finish top of Division 2, 2 points clear of Welsh rivals Deeside Dragons. Promotion to Division 1 though was dependent on them winning the Division 1 Play-off Champions, which the club hosted at the WNIR, their semi-final against Northern winners Grimsby Buffaloes was surrounded in controversy when the game was abandoned after a 34-player bench clearance with Cardiff leading 10–4. The BIHA officials though ruled that it had been provoked by the English side and hence the score should stand as a final result.
In the other semi-final Scottish League Champions Aviemore Blackhawks beat Southern Winners Streatham Bruins to set up an all Celtic final the following day. For the Devils, despite a final period comeback after being 4 goals behind, Aviemore were able to hang on for a 10–9 win and promotion to Division 1 at the expense of Cardiff, but in a strange twist of fate the result proved to be irrelevant. The BIHA decided the league structure needed re-organising, as a result the Cardiff Devils were moved into Division 1 for the following season. Following promotion to Division 1 and a new Sponsorship deal, Lawless was able to strengthen his team. Key signings included netminder Jeff Smith, coach Brian Kanewischer and Canadian defenceman Shannon Hope as a replacement for Bill Taylor, injured midway through the previous season; the season proved to be successful with the Devils winning the Autumn Trophy in November with an 11–10 aggregrate win over the Trafford Metros. In the league the side finished a respectable 3rd place, although 10 points behind winners Telford Tigers.
The two teams had created a fierce rivalry during the season due to several controversial and violent games. During a game on 16 January in Telford, the Devils players were subjected to constant sticking offences resulted in Shannon Hope receiving a serious injury just below his eye. With the referee not calling any penalty, coach Kanewischer took his team off the ice in protest midway through the 2nd period. After a league investigation Cardiff were fined £1000 for their actions and Kanewisher banned for the rest of the season. Lawless and Cardiff shocked the whole of British Ice Hockey by signing 3 of the top players from the Premier Division over the summer. Canadian import Steve Moria was signed from the Fife Flyers, the Cooper brothers Ian and Steve joined from Heineken Champions Durham Wasps, it was the first time top British players were being offered good money to sign for other clubs and it led to claims that Cardiff and their "Cheque Book Hockey" would ruin the game. The signings were crucial as the Devils finished first 1st in Division 1, just a single point ahead of Medway Bears.
They retained the Autumn Trophy they had won the previous season, beating Medway 15–8 on aggregate. To gain promotion though they had to beat the Premier Division's bottom club – the Streatham Redskins. Cardiff destroyed their Premier Division rivals 12–1 in the first leg, a 9–5 victory in Streatham the following weekend secured an easy aggregrate victory and a place in the Heineken Premier Division for the following season. With the Devils reaching the promised land of the Premier Division, John Lawless was able to strengthen his team with the addition of an extra import now that he himself had received his British Passport. Paul Castron was signed but pulled out just before the start of the season, but for the club Doug McEwen had been released by Peterborough at the same time and so signed for the Devils instead. Victory in the pre-season Trafford Tournament gave an indication of the success to come, although the Devils did get knocked out of the Autumn Cup at the semi-final stage to Durham Wasps.
In the league though they were unbeaten until December, by which time they had built up a healthy lead at the top of the table. A 14–7 victory at home to the Peterborough Pirate on 4 March 1990 clinched their first Premier Division League title. Unbeaten in the Playoffs
The Guildford Flames are an ice hockey team based in Guildford and they play their home games in the Guildford Spectrum. They compete in the top-tier of hockey in the Elite Ice Hockey League. Founded in October 1992, the Flames played in the second tier leagues of British hockey, first the British National League until 2004, subsequently the English Premier Ice Hockey League until 2017. On February 24, 2017, it was announced that the Flames would become the 12th Elite Ice Hockey League team, joining for the 2017–18 season; the team's head coach is Paul Dixon, who took over after Stan Marple retired in 2007. Barry Dow, an American who sponsored and owned the basketball team Guildford Kings and Bill Hurley established and owned the team as management – the two were new to the sport of ice hockey, brought in Mike Urquhart as coach and Darrin Zinger as captain. Key players signed for the first season included Canadians Sean Murphy and Dave McGahan due to their high scoring at Solent Vikings. In addition a number of British players including goaltender, Mike Kellond.
The Flames' inaugural season began in October 1992. With the Guildford Spectrum not yet completed, the team had to train at Slough's facility; the Flames played their home games at Alexandra Palace until their new home ice was ready and played there for the first time on 23 January 1993. When 23 January 1993 arrived and the Guildford Spectrum opened, the event was a big one; the area's paid-for newspaper The Surrey Advertiser described the local council's £28 million arena as "awesome". Guildford's first game at their new home showed a convincing win with Andy Sparks scoring the first goal at the Spectrum; the team went to the top of the Conference due to that game, a position they held onto for the whole season. Season 2018/19 Patton Conference Champions Season 2015/16 English Premier Cup English Premier League Playoff Winners Season 2012/13 English Premier League Champions English Premier Cup Season 2011/12 English Premier League Champions English Premier Cup Season 2010/11 English Premier League Playoff Winners Season 2009/10 English Premier Cup Season 2007/08 English Premier League Champions Season 2006/07 English Premier Cup Season 2005/06 English Premier League Champions Season 2003/04 British National League Play-off Winners Season 2000/01 Christmas Cup Winners British National League Champions British National League Play-off Winners Season 1998/99 Benson & Hedges Plate Winners Season 1997/98 British National League Southern Conference Winners British National League Winners British National League Play-off Winners Season 1996/97 Benson & Hedges Plate Winners The team logo is similar to that of the Calgary Flames of the NHL.
The team jerseys mirror those used by a former NHL team, Atlanta Thrashers from 1999 to 2006. Head Coach Paul Dixon Assistant Coach/Bench Coach Milos Melicherik Kit Manager Sam Smith CEO Rob Hepburn Commercial Manager/Senior Advisor Kirk Humphreys The retired numbers at the Guildford Flames are: 3 Stan Marple 10 Ryan Campbell 11 Fred Perlini 9 Terry Kurtenbach 15 Andy Sparks 1992–94 – Darren Zinger 1994–99 – Paul Thompson 1999-00 – Karry Biette 2000–01 – Wayne Crawford 2001–07 – Paul Dixon 2007–09 – Ricky Plant 2009–10 – Rob Lamey 2010–15 – David Longstaff 2015–16 – Jez Lundin 2017–18 – Jesse Craige Official Guildford Flames website Flames Backburner Site Unofficial Game photos by David Steadman Guildford Flames Too Hot To Handle! – Supports Blog
The Basingstoke Bison are an English Ice Hockey club from Basingstoke. They compete in the National Ice Hockey League and have been members of the Ice Hockey Superleague and its successor the Elite Ice Hockey League. Formed in 1988 as the Basingstoke Beavers, the club became the "Bison" in 1995, their team logo is similar to that used by the Buffalo Sabres from 1996–2006. Joining the Superleague in 1996, the Bison dropped out in 1998 and joined the British National League. In 2003 they joined the newly formed Elite Ice Hockey League. Despite being one of the lower-budget teams in the EIHL, the Bison maintained their fan base and enhanced local sponsorships and doubled their season ticket sales; this success is testament to the hard work of Mark Bernard, who occupied the general manager and head coach role with the club during the 2004/05 and 2005/06 seasons. Bernard stepped into the netminder's role part way through the latter season after Jayme Platt had left the team. In May 2006, Bernard left the club to take up the assistant general manager's post with American Hockey League club, the Norfolk Admirals.
Prior to his departure, Bernard secured the services of a number of the players that made up the 05/06 roster. In June 2006, Planet Ice announced that the new player/coach of the club would be former club captain Doug Sheppard, with former Bison and London Racers defenceman Duncan Dalmao returning as player/assistant coach. Sheppard set about building his roster around the core; the Bison embarked upon a successful year under Sheppard, securing their highest Elite League finish, taking many points off the top sides in the League. In April 2007, David Taylor, owner of the Bracknell Bees, purchased the Bison, he appointed Ryan Aldridge as the head coach of the team, signalling the end of Doug Shepherd's reign. Shepherd went on to join rivals Sheffield Steelers. Following financial problems, which had resulted in the departure of a number of players, Taylor relinquished ownership of the Bison and the team's new owner was announced as Tomas Enerston by Planet Ice on 8 November 2007. Less than a year following further financial difficulty, Planet Ice put together a rescue package to keep Bison on the ice until the end of the 2008/09 season.
On 25 March 2009, the Bison released a statement confirming that they would be joining the EPL for the 2009/10 season. Entry to the EPIHL was confirmed on 15 April 2009, Steve Moria took over as head coach the following day. After Moria's departure at the end of the 2011–2012 season, it was announced that Doug Sheppard would return as the Bison head coach for the 2012–2013 season. In March 2013, Sheppard signed another deal with the Basingstoke Bison to continue as head coach for the 2013–2014 season; the Basingstoke Bison won the 15/16 English Premier League title, under Doug Sheppard as coach. This ended their silverware drought of 23 years. Roster for the 2018/19 NIHL season. Basingstoke have only retired the number of two players, the first being Kevin Conway's number 10 in 2005 following his initial retirement from ice hockey. In the 2005–06 season, Tony Redmond was honoured with a testimonial season. In September 2009, it was announced that Don Yewchin, the original ice hockey coordinator for the Beavers in 1988 would have his number 12 jersey retired before Basingstoke's league game with local rivals Bracknell Bees on Saturday 10 October 2009.
In a fantastic twist of fate, Basingstoke won the game 12–0 In 2018, the club held a testimonial match to celebrate Kurt Reynolds, as he took a time-out from hockey. 1989/90*Champions – English Div 1 Promotion Play-offs 1991/92Winners – Southern Cup1992/93Champions – Heineken Division One Champions – Heineken Div 1 Promomtion Play-offs Runners-up – Southern Cup1993/94Runners-up – Southern Cup1994/95Runners-up – Southern Cup1998/99Runners-up – British National Ice Hockey League Runners-up – Christmas Cup1999/00Winners – B & H Plate Runners-up – ntl: Christmas Cup Runners-up – BNL Play-off Championships2000/01Winners – B & H Plate Runners-up – Findus British National Ice Hockey League Runners-up – FBNL Play-off Championships2003/04EIHL First Team All Star – Curtis Cruickshank2012/13Runners-up – English Premier Ice Hockey League2013/14Winners – English Premier Ice Hockey League Cup Runners-up – English Premier Ice Hockey League Winners – English Premier Ice Hockey League Play-off Championship2015/16Champions – English Premier Ice Hockey League Ashley Tait – 2018 – present – Player / head coach Doug Sheppard – 2012 – 2018 – Player / head coach Steve Moria – 2009–2012 – Player / head coach Ryan Aldridge – 2007–2009 – Player / head coach Doug Sheppard – 2006–2007 – Player / head coach Mark Bernard – 2004–2006 – Player / head coach / general manager Steve Moria – 2002–2004 – Player / head coach Charlie Colon – 2000–2002 – Head coach Rick Strachan – 1999–2000 – Player / head coach Don Depoe – 1998–1999 – Head coach Darcy Anderson Derek Campbell Brad Cruikshank Mark DeSantis Jason Goulet Jason Hewitt Wes Jarvis David Kozier Dean Melanson Dwight Parrish Curtiss Patrick Jayme Platt Brent Pope Danny Stewart Steve Thornton David Vychodil Basingstoke Bison web site Bolt Action Media – Bison's Media providers web site
Coventry Blaze are an ice hockey team based in Coventry, England. They compete in the British Elite Ice Hockey League and play their home games at the SkyDome Arena; the club was founded in 1965 as the Solihull Barons and renamed to Solihull Blaze in 1996. At the turn of the millennium the club relocated to the SkyDome Arena and became Coventry Blaze. Blaze have won four Elite Ice Hockey League Championships since the formation of the league in 2003; the Solihull Barons evolved into Solihull Blaze before the start of the 1996–97 season, finishing second in the southern division of the British National League during the league's inaugural season. For the following season the team joined the newly formed "national division" of the English National Ice Hockey League for its inaugural season; this season was one of the most successful on record as Blaze were victorious in both competitions and their respective play-offs. Nine goals in each leg of the play off final against Chelmsford Chieftains gave Blaze their third trophy of the season.
The Blaze left the ENIHL along with the rest of the national division during the course of the 1998-99 season, with the division becoming the English Premier League. In November 1998, they were losing finalists in the English Cup, but the side were once again crowned league champions in March with a victory in Chelmsford on 20 March. Play-off success followed in April with a 5–3 two-legged victory over season-long rivals, Milton Keynes Kings. For the following season Blaze returned to the BNL. In May 2000, the club announced that they would be heading to new a new 3,600-seater stadium, the Coventry SkyDome Arena, for the 2000–01 BNL campaign; this was done for the purpose of attracting a larger fan base to the team. With eight new players on board the Blaze started their inaugural season at the Skydome with a decent run in the Benson & Hedges Cup and, after losing in their opening BNL game, proceeded to set an impressive pace in the league competition throughout October and November; the loss of key players, Craig Chapman and Steve Chartrand at the turn of the year were possible contributions to a dip in form which resulted in an eventual fourth-place finish.
In the playoffs Blaze were unable to repeat the previous years semi-final appearance. However, the most important factor of the year was the growth in fan base from a few hundred at the start of the year to over 2000 by the end of the play-offs. Season 2001–02 saw few changes in the line up The Season started with a run of good results in the Findus Challenge Cup which saw Blaze qualify for the Semi-Finals; this run included the first return visit to Hobs Moat Road in Solihull to take on the reformed Barons. An injury to Andrew McNiven saw ex-Steeler/Panther/Giant Steve Roberts join up with the Blaze. An impressive October/November saw; the Finals weekend of the Challenge Cup saw Blaze comeback from 3–0 down in the semi-final to beat Basingstoke Bison and go on to meet Fife in the final, which the Flyers went on to win. Returning to the league, the Blaze continued in fine form throughout splitting results with the Stars. Stars greater consistency, their ability not to drop points against mid-table teams left them top of the league with the Blaze runners-up again.
The Play-Offs saw the Blaze top their qualification group and beat Guildford Flames over the two legged semi-final. The Final saw them take on the Stars and lose out by the narrowest of margins, 8–7, over the two legs, for the third time in the season Blaze were runners-up. Season 2002–03 saw another evolution not revolution in the playing staff with Jody Lehman replacing Burt in goal, Joel Poirier replacing the departed Roberts, GB forward Ashley Tait joining the team. Blaze entered the Ice Hockey Superleague Challenge Cup at the start of the season, ran a couple of ISL teams close; the Findus Challenge Cup saw Blaze into the Finals where they met the Newcastle Vipers, but the result was a 0–3 loss. A run of form following the defeat saw the Blaze wrap up the league title with a victory in Dundee; this was followed up with an unbeaten play-offs run, the Final being contested against Cardiff Devils, a narrow victory in Cardiff was followed by a first capacity crowd at the Skydome for a triumphant night that saw Blaze lift their second trophy of the year.
Shortly after the final, Blaze announced their move into the newly formed Elite Ice Hockey League, commenced preparations for their first season in the top flight of British ice hockey. Season 2003–04 saw another major change in the club's progress as they took part in their first season as a top-flight club in the newly formed Elite League. Coach Paul Thompson stayed true to the team which had won the double in the BNL the year before, replacing only three players; the first game of the league saw another first for the club as they flew to their game in Belfast and beat the previous year's Superleague playoff champions. A 6–1 win over Sheffield in October and