Ready for 2017/2018: the delegations of the Annual Continental Cup Meeting pose for a group photo in Bratislava. Photo: Martin Merk
17 teams entered; Iceland joins competition
At the Annual Continental Cup Meeting the format, dates, hosts and participating clubs have been determined for the IIHF Continental Cup's 2017/2018 season.
The international club competition goes into its 21st season and includes the top teams from leagues, usually the national champion, that are not from the six founding leagues of the Champions Hockey League. It does so with a revamped logo.
17 clubs from as many countries are entered in the competition and play a three-stage preliminary round between September and November. The field of competitors includes many countries who have participated recently but there is also a new one and one comeback.
Narva PSK will be the first Estonian participant in four years and Esja Reykjavik will be the first club from Iceland to compete internationally. Iceland has played in World Championship events since 1999 but it’s the first time a team joins an international club competition. The club was founded just three years ago and won its first championship this year.
The 17 teams were seeded into the three rounds according to the level of play and taking regional and travel aspects into consideration.
The two tournaments of the third round on the weekend of 17-19 November will determine the four teams that will make the Continental Cup Final, to be held 12-14 January 2018 at the venue of one of the finalists.
Rungsted, Denmark, and Ritten, Italy, will be the hosts of the third-round groups. Rungsted plays in the Copenhagen region, making the Continental Cup tournament a great opportunity for hockey fans in the Danish capital region to see international ice hockey ahead of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Copenhagen and Herning. The rink is also used as practice rink by the Danish national team. Ritten Sport already hosted a third-round and the final tournament last season.
There were more bids for the first two rounds making the selection a bit harder. The Serbian capital of Belgrade was chosen to host the first round from 29 September to 1 October, while the capital of Riga and Brasov from Romania will be the host cities for the second-round tournaments scheduled for 20-22 October. Latvian champion Kurbads is currently building its own arena in the Latgale Suburb district in the southeast of Riga that will open in August.
Like last year the Continental Cup winner will have the possibility to play in the Champions Hockey League of the following season pending formal approval by the CHL Board. In the last season the Nottingham Panthers became the first team from Great Britain to win the Continental Cup.