The 2017 Ford National Hockey League will be played under a new format which puts greater emphasis on exciting high stakes matches.

The event runs across nine days of action from 16-24 September at the National Hockey Stadium in Wellington.

This year's Ford NHL structure aligns with the current International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament model which will see New Zealand's eight regions split into two pools ahead of a cross-over finals phase.

Pools have been classified based on last year's placings with each team playing each of the other three sides to determine their seeding going into a must-win quarter final against a team from the other pool.

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Reigning Challenge Shield (Men) winners Midlands and K Cup champions the Canterbury Cats (Women) come in as the top seeded sides.