What Is The Challenge Cup In Hockey?
The Challenge Cup is a hockey tournament organized by the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), the United Kingdom's professional ice hockey league. The Challenge Cup is one of three competitions organized by the EIHL annually, each one following a different format, which makes it very exciting.
Challenge Cup Format
The Challenge Cup starts with all the 10 EIHL teams divided into three groups; two groups with three teams and one group with four. The groups with different numbers of teams makes the format a little more complicated, but still not hard to understand.
All teams will play a total of 6, regardless of the group they're placed in. Teams in the 4-team group, will play each other twice, once away and once home. To even out the number of games, teams in the other two groups (which only have 3 teams each) will play each other four times, twice at home and twice away.
After all group stage games have been played, the 3 best teams in the 4-team group and the top two in the 3-team groups automatically advance to the quarterfinals. With 7 teams automatically qualified, there is one spot left in the quarterfinals, for which the last placed teams in the 3-team groups play each other. Eventually, only two teams are knocked off after the group stage.
The quarterfinals dynamics are quite interesting; the group winners are seeded according to their group record, and have the chance to pick who they face in a two-game home and away series. The team who has the most goals added up from both games advances.
In the semis, teams are re-seeded, and play in a two-game series, just like in the quarterfinals. The big final match is a single match played at neutral ground, where the winner gets to raise the challenge cup trophy.