July 23, 2018 6:00 am

The fixture list for the 2018/19 Elite Ice Hockey League season have been announced.

Competitive action gets under way on Saturday 1st September 2018 when Sheffield Steelers head to Nottingham Panthers in the first Challenge Cup action of the new campaign.

Then other sides get involved a week later, Saturday 8th September, when Dundee Stars host current holders Belfast Giants, Fife Flyers take on Glasgow Clan and Guildford Flames play Coventry Blaze.

The Elite League campaign also begins that day when Nottingham Panthers take on Manchester Storm, while Sheffield Steelers play host to Milton Keynes Lightning.

With Cardiff Devils’ involvement in the Champions Hockey League, they don’t begin the defence of their league title until Saturday 15th September when they take on Nottingham Panthers.

The league will consist of 11 teams this season, following the departure of Edinburgh Capitals, but remains split into three Conferences, two of four and one of three.

Scottish trio Glasgow Clan, Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers, who won it last year, will play in the Gardiner Conference.

Belfast Giants, Cardiff Devils, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers will compete in the Erhardt Conference.

The Patton Conference consists of Coventry Blaze, Milton Keynes Lightning, Guildford Flames and last season’s winners, Manchester Storm.

Each team will play each other six times over the course of the campaign, three home and three away, giving them a total of 60 games.

Unlike previous seasons, each team will play their opponents the equal amount of times compared to playing their Conference rivals more than their opponents outwith their Conferences.

The final weekend of the regular season will be the 30th and 31st March 2019.

This announcement marks the latest step as all attention now starts to turn to the new campaign and Elite League chairman Tony Smith is looking forward to seeing the action get underway.

“Once again, we’re at the point when our teams and their fans can look ahead to what will be a fascinating campaign ahead,” he said.

“While we’ve sadly lost Edinburgh Capitals, the 11 teams are gearing up for what promises to be another exciting few months ahead as old and new rivalries are renewed.

“I want to thank all the clubs and their representatives for the work they’ve put into this schedule and they all worked together brilliantly to produce these fixtures.

“Now the fans can look ahead and plan their trips accordingly and it looks like we could have the makings of a great season ahead.”

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