Atlantic Coast Hockey League

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Atlantic Coast Hockey League
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1981
CEO Ray Miron
President William B. Coffey
Country  United States
Ceased 1987
Last champion(s) Virginia Lancers
Most titles Carolina Thunderbirds (3)
ACHL redirects here. For the Appellate Committee of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom, see Judicial functions of the House of Lords. For the 2002 league that carried this name, see Atlantic Coast Hockey League (2002–2003).

The Atlantic Coast Hockey League was a minor league hockey organization that operated between 1981 and 1987. The league was founded by Bill Coffey.[1] The Bob Paine Trophy was awarded to the team who won the league playoff championship.[2]

According to a 1985 Montreal Gazette article, rookies were paid "$150 a week plus $35 for a victory[3]" and veterans were paid "as much as $300 a week". League regulations also said that half the roster (eight out of fifteen players) must be rookie Americans.[4]

Formation[edit]

The ACHL's roots can be traced back to the former Eastern Hockey League of the late 1970s and early 1980s. With a meeting of several EHL owners, the league decided to fold on July 19, 1981 and reorganize as the Atlantic Coast Hockey League. Teams that were previous members of the Eastern Hockey League were interested in rejoining the league. The former Utica Mohawks would come back as the Mohawk Valley Stars. Because of the Mohawk Valley team being the most northern, the league was interested in inviting a sixth team to bridge the gap . Johnstown previously had an Eastern League team affiliated with the Red Wings and were the intended sixth team but due to the owner being ill, they were removed from the list. Richmond expressed interest, but due to questions about the financial stability of the league, they also dropped out. The Boston Bruins, along with several investors, were approached about putting a team in nearby Cape Cod. After an investor dropped out, Cape Cod Coliseum and WWF owner Vince McMahon purchased the rights to the franchise for $15,000.

Inaugural Season[edit]

The ACHL would open with seven teams:

  • Salem Raiders
  • Winston-Salem Thunderbirds
  • Mohawk Valley Stars
  • Baltimore Skipjacks
  • Cape Cod Buccaneers
  • Fitchburg Trappers
  • Schenectady Chiefs.

From the opening night of the season, McMahon was not happy with how the league was run. Schenectady and Fitchburg were owned by the same person. Fitchburg was placed under a league suspension and would fold after 6 games. Schenectady would fold after 9 games. In January 1982, McMahon would try to borrow $15,000 from the league, citing "slow cash flow". When the league denied his loan, McMahon folded his franchise. With the league now down to 4 teams, the league decided to end the season early and set the playoffs by geographical area to save on expenses. Coincidentally, the matchups did end up having the first and fourth place teams meet, along with the second vs third place teams. The Salem Raiders would defeat the Winston-Salem Thunderbirds, and the Mohawk Valley Stars would defeat the Baltimore Skipjacks. The Raiders and Stars would play in the league final, with the Mohawk Valley Stars defeating the Raiders for the Bob Paine Trophy.

On July 24, 1987, Commissioner Ray Miron announced that the league would be suspending operations for the 1987-88 season. The Troy Slapshots had folded earlier in the previous season, and the Mohawk Valley Comets franchise in Utica, NY had moved up to the American Hockey League. This left the league with only three teams--Erie, Virginia, and Carolina--not enough for it to make sense to operate.[5] Erie would cease operations, but the Lancers and Thunderbirds would transfer to the All-American Hockey League.

ACHL to ECHL[edit]

Two teams from the current ECHL have roots tracing back to the Atlantic Coast Hockey League

The Wheeling Nailers:

  • 1981-82: Winston-Salem Thunderbirds (ACHL)
  • 1982-87: Carolina Thunderbirds (ACHL)
  • 1987-88: Carolina Thunderbirds (AAHL)
  • 1988-89: Carolina Thunderbirds (ECHL)
  • 1989-92: Winston-Salem Thunderbirds (ECHL)
  • 1992-95: Wheeling Thunderbirds (ECHL)
  • 1995–present: Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)

and the Utah Grizzlies:

  • 1981-1983: Nashville South Stars (CHL/ACHL)
  • 1983–1990: Virginia Lancers (ACHL/AAHL/ECHL)
  • 1990–1992: Roanoke Valley Rebels (ECHL)
  • 1992–1993: Roanoke Valley Rampage (ECHL)
  • 1993–1994: Huntsville Blast (ECHL)
  • 1994–2001: Tallahassee Tiger Sharks (ECHL)
  • 2001–2002: Macon Whoopee (ECHL)
  • 2002–2003: Lexington Men O' War
  • 2005–present: Utah Grizzlies

Teams[edit]

Unnamed team[edit]

In December 1985, Recreational Ice of North Carolina (RINC) was granted an ACHL franchise. RINC General Manager Bob Ohrablo had planned to put the franchise in Asheville, North Carolina. The team was to play in a newly built arena, the 3200-seat Asheville Ice Garden. The arena was to be completed in October 1986 and the team was supposed to start play during the 1986-87 season.

A name the team contest was to be held in February 1986, with the winner to be announced in March.[6] It is unknown if a winner was ever announced.

Awards[edit]

ACHL All-Stars[edit]

ACHL MVP[edit]

ACHL Rookie Of The Year[edit]

Regular Season Champions[edit]

Bob Paine Trophy winners[edit]

Seasons[edit]

References[edit]

  • Scott, Jon C. (2006). Hockey Night in Dixie: Minor Pro Hockey in the American South. Heritage House Publishing Company Ltd. pp. 104–186. ISBN 1-894974-21-2. 

See also[edit]