SWINDON Wildcats will return to the ice later this month in the National League Spring Cup.

The competition, which has been given the go ahead as phase one of the English Ice Hockey Association’s Return to Play initiative, will see Aaron Nell’s team take on Sheffield Steeldogs, Bracknell Bees, London Raiders and Telford Tigers in a mini-league format.

Each side will play home and away across seven weekends in February and March, with respective teams playing each other three teams to make up the 12-game fixture list.

Due to ongoing national lockdown restrictions, every game will be played behind close doors - however, most games will be streamed online where those facilities are available.

The points system will follow the usual league rules, with the top-placed team at the end of the series being awarded the Spring Cup title.

If fixtures cannot be played as scheduled, the teams - in conjunction with the EIHA - will determine the appropriate award or rescheduling of the game.

In a statement released by the NIHL National owners group, it said it had been working hard - in conjunction with the EIHA and rink operators - to determine options for returning to play.

The group said it is “hugely grateful for the collaboration, support and teamwork” across all parties and confirmed phase two of the Return to Play process will give all 10 NIHL National Division sides the chance to participate in a league competition during April and May, details of which will be confirmed at a later date.

The owners group went on to say: “In developing this series, we have been heavily focused on safety, and our role as an elite sport during the current National Lockdown.

“At all times, teams will comply with government regulations and the return to play rules from the EIHA.

“To increase our insight and warning of any potential Covid-19 infections, all teams will also be running weekly Covid testing of all players with a clear communication plan in the event of positive test results.”

The NIHL says it will release fixture information and further details in the coming days and it looks forward to the beginning the competition later this month.