Streatham Redskins play in division one of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) South. Until 2012, the league was the English National Ice Hockey League but the name was changed because a number of teams in Scotland and Wales had become members.
The essential aspect of the NIHL is that it consists of amateur ice hockey teams. In this, it is to be distinguished from the English Premier Ice Hockey League. Amateur teams run by volunteers have financial constraints on travel to distant locations for away games and the NIHL is therefore divided regionally to avoid the costs becoming too onerous.
The overall divisions are into North and South, and each of those has two divisions; so that we end up with:
- South Division 1
- South Division 2
- North Division 1 (known as the Moralee Conference)
- North Division 2 (known as the Laidler Conference).
Promotion and relegation take place between each region.
It doesn’t stop there, though. South Division 2 is split between western conference and eastern conference and, at the end of the season, a playoff is staged to find the overall divisional winner.
It hasn’t always been this way and ice hockey in Britain has had to adapt and change to match fluctuations in fortunes (financial fortunes as much as anything). The English National Ice Hockey League began in 1996 when the British Hockey League was dissolved and at the same time as the Ice Hockey Superleague (now defunct) and the British National League were set up. The ENIHL was thus Tier 3 in the British ice hockey pecking order and originally contained a division known as the National Division for clubs who could no longer afford to stay in the British National League, but played better hockey than most ENIHL clubs.
This “National Division” took itself out of the ENIHL as the English Premier Ice Hockey League, so the ENIHL was demoted to become Tier 4 of British ice hockey – but it returned to Tier 3 status in 2005, when the BNL disbanded.