Peetrborough Phantoms owner Dave Lane has urged fans to embrace a new era.
The city club will play in Division One South of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL) next season following the collapse of the sport’s previous second tier.
Lane confirmed trophy-winning Slava Koulikov remains fully committed as the club’s coach and that work to assemble a playing roster is well underway.
And while the standard may turn out to be lower in a league where only two imports are permitted (Phantoms had five imports last season), Lane expects the excitement to be just as high.
He said: “We have some great new sponsors already on board, we have some new teams to face and we have a new challenge which we’re relishing.
“We’ll go into the season with the aim of being successful in a league that’s been very competitive and entertaining over the years.
“I’m convinced exciting times lie ahead and I’m certainly not viewing it as a step backwards. It’s a great opportunity for up-and-coming British players to show everyone what they’re about.”
Phantoms feature in a six-team Conference B section alongside Chelmsford, Invicta, London Raiders, Streatham and Swindon.
Those sides will play each other four times and meet teams in Conference A – Basingstoke, Bracknell, Cardiff Fire, Milton Keynes Thunder, Oxford and Solent – once.
Phantoms are also one of eight teams to feature in a cup competition. They have been drawn in Group B alongside Basingstoke Bison, Bracknell Bees, and Swindon Wildcats.
Group A contains Chelmsford Chieftains, Invicta Dynamos, Streatham IHC and London Raiders.
The league season will start on September 2 and is scheduled to finish on April 8 with play-offs – which could pit teams from the South section against NIHL North opposition - then likely to follow.
A six-hour meeting also agreed that all NIHL South games ending in a draw after 60 minutes will go to five minutes of three on three overtime and penalty shots if required.
NIHL South League Manager Richard Carpenter said: “It was a long day, a difficult meeting, but we’ve reached agreement on the way forward for next season and beyond.
“There are no perfect answers or deals to such a highly complicated situation, but we would like to thank all teams involved for reaching a deal.
“There are wider whole-NIHL issues which will be discussed after the North section next week, but we’re pleased to have carried out this task of integrating the former EPIHL clubs into the NIHL Structure.”
The Peterborough Islanders team – who now play under the Phantoms 2 banner – will remain at NIHL South Division Two level. They won the title last season as part of an honours treble.
They are in a 13-team division alongside Basingstoke Buffalo, Bristol Pitbulls, Bracknell Hornets, Cardiff Fire 2, Chelmsford Warriors, Guildford Phoenix, Haringey, Invicta Mustangs, Lee Valley Lions, Oxford NIHL2, Slough Jets and Swindon Wildcats 2.