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Flames go to top flight of hockey next season by becoming 12th Elite Ice Hockey League member

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Guildford Flames logo 24/02/17 After 25 successful seasons, including 19 trophies from 6 League, 5 Playoff, 7 Cups and a Conference title, the Flames will, for the first time in its history, ice at the top level of British Ice Hockey with a move to become the 12th team in the Elite Ice Hockey League next season.

The move from the English Premier League was ratified at an EIHL meeting earlier in the week.

Current Flame Andy McKinney during a game this season.  Photo by John Uwins.“To say the least, we, as a club, are exceptionally excited to have been given this opportunity by the league and its board members”, said Kirk Humphreys, Chief Operating Officer. “There are many reasons for taking the club in this direction, but primarily we feel that the time is right to step up to a higher quality, faster on ice product. We believe the jump to the Elite League level will be well received by our fans, and best suits our own objectives in promoting the most competitive, entertaining hockey we can put on the ice within our business structure.”

“At the end of the day, after a successful quarter century, we are the same club, same home building, same ties to the community, but now we have the chance to compete in the highest league available to us, and hopefully our fans are as thrilled as we are to begin our next steps at the very top of British ice hockey.”

Of course, the on ice team is the vast bulk of what a move to the top flight means, and that is where Supporters will see the most changes, according to Head Coach Paul Dixon.

“Moving to the top flight of domestic pro hockey is unquestionably a step up to a faster game with a much deeper talent pool than we currently enjoy, particularly with a slightly younger generation of players who are far less attracted to the EPL than they are to the country’s top league.”

“Along with currently available player sources, the Elite structure opens up some global leagues that used to be part of our recruiting grounds in the former British National League,” Dixon explained. “Those leagues produced many of our former star players, but have been largely unavailable to us under EPL player eligibility guidelines.” The Flames will be joined by fellow EPL member Milton Keynes Lightning in making 12 teams at the country’s ice hockey summit alongside Belfast Giants, Nottingham Panthers, Sheffield Steelers, Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Dundee Stars, Edinburgh Capitals, Fife Flyers and Braehead Clan.

“We have felt ready for a move to the Elite league for several years now simply on the merits of the quality of their pro ice hockey product,” added Humphreys, “and that motivation combined with current setting of the British ice hockey landscape, made this the ideal time to commit. We are pleased to join the Elite League in helping be a part of growing their brand. We are excited to move forward with the certainty and the step up in quality of play that the top league offers to our club and our fans.” Guildford’s addition to the Elite League was also welcomed by chairman, Tony Smith, who believes the league will be much stronger with 12 teams next season.

“First of all, I’m delighted to welcome Guildford Flames into the Elite League ranks next season and their inclusion gives our league much strength going forward,” he said. “With Milton Keynes Lightning also competing from next season, it’s an exciting time and our growth is a definite positive as we look to the future." “Guildford are an established force in the English Premier League and they have a history of success at that level, which will stand them in good stead. “I’m certainly looking forward to seeing them next season and it promises to be a great campaign ahead.”

At this time, no further statement will be made regarding the league structure and Conference.

Tony added: “As things currently stand, we are reviewing what the structure of the league will be and the Conferences so we can’t reveal anything at this time. “This is something that will be announced at a later date.”

Click here for more information and news from the Guildford Flames website

Click here to see the latest Guildford Flames roster for the 2016/17 season

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