SWINDON Wildcats will return to the ice next month after being included in a three-team pilot series alongside Milton Keynes Lightning and Sheffield Steeldogs.

The fixtures – which will take place between November 14-29 – will be played behind closed doors but will be streamed online and available to purchase from £12 per game.

A ‘family ticket’ will also be available to fans on an optional basis at £3 per additional viewer – this ticket is available for groups of more than two who feel they would like to further support their club, say the NIHL.

The NIHL National owners group have been collaborating extensively over the last few weeks while working with the EIHA and rink operators with a view to launching a competitive season in early 2021.

The tri-series is being viewed as ice hockey’s first chance to gain valuable feedback towards potentially starting a belated season next year, with the last competitive games being played in March.

The Wildcats’ tri-series fixtures will take place across the first two weekends of the competition as Aaron Nell’s men take on the Lightning at home on Saturday November 14 – with a 6.15pm face off – before travelling up to Sheffield on Sunday November 15 to play the Steeldogs with a 5.30pm face off.

Saturday November 21 sees Swindon head over to Milton Keynes for the return fixture which starts at 7pm, while Sunday 22 should be the Wildcats’ final game in the competition when they host the Steeldogs at 6.15pm.

After the announcement of the tri-series was made, Mark Johnson, chair of the NIHL National owners group, said: “We have all been missing hockey, and have been overwhelmed by the level of support and interest fans of all teams across our league have shown.

“Add to this that the players have been longing to get back on the ice, we wanted to do everything we could do see if we could stage some fixtures.

“Although this is a small pilot series, we will use it as a test bed to see if it is viable to scale into a cup competition and then a league campaign.

“We’re hugely grateful to the EIHA, rink operators, the team owners, players and staff for working so hard to get to this point. Game on!”

The games will go ahead under the EIHA’s return to play and Elite Sport structure which allows them to take place in all current Covid risk level classifications.