History of the BUIHA
Although still a young organisation, the British Universities Ice Hockey Association, or BUIHA, was formed in response to the growing number of universities with ice hockey programmes in an effort to provide students with competitive ice hockey whilst at university, no matter what their level of play.
The notion to form the BUIHA first arose in Easter 2003. The idea was to simply form a divisional competition for the existing university teams. Development over the summer of 2003 led to a committee being put in place, a schedule being set and a number of teams signed up to take part in the first ever BUIHA University Cup. The National Championships was already an existing competition. Indeed, the 2003/04 formative season finished in style at the National Championships weekend where the then 13 member teams battled it out for The Rawlinson Plate & The Hopkins Plate.
The following season, to further the BUIHA objective of progression at all levels of the sport, the BUIHA introduced Division 3. Also joining the BUIHA in its second season were a number of new university teams, a number that would be again bolstered in its 3rd season bringing the total teams for 2005-6 to 29.
The 2008/09 Season saw the Bristol Lions enter for the 1st time. The sole new enterant in the 2009/10 season were the newly formed Kent Knights, who arrived on the scene with an old friend lining up in a Knights roster. It was the time that Old Skool had ended his associaion with Imperial College Devils and was playing for his University for the very first time. The 2010/11 saw the Oxford Women's Blues join their Cambridge counterparts in Division 3 South and there is continuing interest from several other institutions such as the University of Bath, UCLan, Anglia Ruskin University, The University of Bangor and Plymouth University.
The National Championships
It all began over a couple of pints one rainy afternoon in Oxford, the precise details of which are lost in the mists of time. The then secretary of the Oxford Vikings, Alexis Rawlinson, came up with the idea of organising a tournament for all the university ice hockey teams in the UK. At the time this was not such a daunting organisational prospect, given that there were only seven teams.
A few weeks later five teams (blues squads were not invited as they were above the standard of all other teams) gathered for a late night ice hockey session at Oxford Ice Rink starting at 11pm and running all the way through to the morning. The result of this was a narrow Newcastle victory by one point over the Oxford Vikings. Newcastle arranged the next two events at the NIC in Nottingham, which saw victories for Newcastle in 2002 and London in 2003.
For 2004, to recognise the contribution of Alexis to British University Ice Hockey, the top National Championship trophy was renamed the Rawlinson Plate.
2004 also saw the introduction of a 2nd Tier of competition due to the introduction of many new teams. The BUIHA is now host of a range of new teams from England, Scotland and Wales as well as the original 7 that entred the first National Championships in 2001. From 2005 onwards tier II was re-named The Hopkins Plate.
The Cup Competition
Created in Autumn 2003 by the founding BUIHA committee the cup competition was envisioned as a league type competition available to university clubs in the UK.
Operating within the EIHA recreational section the clubs involved played a round robin format with the winner being declared at the end of the season as the team with the most points (using goal difference as a tie breaker).
Founding clubs of the initial 2 divisions (in alphabetical order) were:
- Cambridge University Blues
- University of London Union Purples
- Nottingham Universities Mavericks A
- Birmingham Eagles
- Cambridge University Eskimos
- Imperial College Devils
- Newcastle University Wildcats
- Nottingham Universities Mavericks B
- Oxford University Vikings
- University of Warwick Panthers
From the 2008/2009 season the BUIHA operated directly under the EIHA board after being awarded a section of their own and separating from the Rec section. This has led to several improvements to the way the organisation can operate.
Team Great Britain
Launched at the end of the 2004-5 season, Team Great Britain is the national university side that will compete against other national university sides, including competing at the bi-annual FISU World University Games. Mike Urquhart & Matt Bradbury have agreed to coach the team. Any person attending university anywhere in the world who is a UK citizen between the ages of 17 and 28 is able to play for the team. This disregards the level to which they have played the sport.From the 2008/2009 season the BUIHA operated directly under the EIHA board after being awarded a section of their own and separating from the Rec section. This has led to several improvements to the way the organisation can operate.