Federal Hockey League
Federal Hockey League
|No. of teams||7|
|Most recent champion(s)||Watertown Wolves (1st title)|
The Federal Hockey League (FHL) is a professional ice hockey league with teams in the Northeastern United States and Midwestern United States. The FHL began operations in November 2010. Don Kirnan serves as the league's Commissioner.
2010–11 – Inaugural Season
The FHL would see a handful of NHL players and draft picks join the ranks, headlined by Pierre Dagenais and Billy Tibbetts. Dagenais, who has 142 games played with 35 goals and 58 points in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers, played two seasons for the Akwesasne Warriors amassing 107 goals and 197 points in 68 regular season games and would help Akwesasne win the first Commissioner's Cup. Tibbetts, who played with the role of an enforcer in his brief 82 game NHL career, mostly with the Pittsburgh Penguins, played 15 games for the Cape Cod Bluefins in 2011-12, scoring 10 goals, 40 points, and 109 PIM in only 15 games.
Akwesasne would win the very first Commissioner's Cup title with a 3-1 series win over the New York Aviators.
In February 2011, the FHL announced for the 2011–12 season they would add new teams in Morrisville, Vermont and Danville, Illinois, later named as the Green Mountain Rock Crushers and.the Danville Dashers In May 2011, the FHL announced an expansion team to Wayne, New Jersey, called the New Jersey Outlaws. By June 2011, the FHL had been unable to establish a team in Vermont and included the Niagara Falls Nationals with the Dashers and Outlaws in an expansion draft instead of the Rock Crushers. But by July 2011, the Nationals had folded and the Green Mountain Rock Crushers (who would later change their name to the Vermont Wild in September) were re-added to the schedule. The Vermont Wild would play at Green Mountain Arena in Morrisville, Vermont, the Danville Dashers would play at David S. Palmer Arena in Danville, Illinois. In December 2011 the FHL announced that the Vermont Wild had folded and a new team, the Delaware Federals, would replace them on the schedule as a road-only team. They played their first game on December 16, 2011 against Cape Cod.
In May 2012 it was announced that the Brooklyn Aviators were ceasing operations and that an expansion team was being added in Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton Demonz (originally announced as the Dayton Devils) would play at the Hara Arena starting in the 2012-13 season. The Dayton Expansion Draft and the Brooklyn Player Dispersal Draft were both held on June 15.
In July 2012 it was announced that the defending champion New Jersey Outlaws were relocating to Williamsport, PA, for the 2012-13 season. Rather than playing in a traditional ice arena, they played outside on an ice rink at Bowman Field, home to the minor league baseball team the Williamsport Crosscutters. This venture was unsuccessful as the team folded on January 21, 2013 only to be resurrected by the league as the Pennsylvania Blues, a travel team that played four road games to fill in other teams home schedules for the remainder of the season.
On December 15, 2012, the control of the Cape Cod Bluefins was transferred to the league and renamed the New York Bluefins with the intent to play home games in Syracuse, New York, however the league only used them as a travel team for 13 games and folded at the end of the season.
On January 27, 2013, the only game in FHL history to be completed with no penalties was played between the New York Bluefins and the Danville Dashers at Palmer Arena in Danville, Illinois, a 7-4 Danville win officiated by referee Matt Spaeth, and linesmen Brian Fisher and Trevor Waite.
On March 22, 2013, the Danbury Whalers swept the Dayton Demonz to win the Commissioner's Cup. The attendance at the final game was 3,116; the largest attendance in the history of the league.
The FHL would play with only 4 teams for the season, and in a bid for expansion played neutral site games in Winston-Salem, NC and Connellsville, PA. Dayton Demonz forward Ahmed Mahfouz, known for his scoring ability as well as his role in getting under the skin of the opposition, as well as his notorious beard, led the league in scoring and was the league's Most Valuable Player. The Danville Dashers twice were the center of national sports attention, first in a brawl during a game against the Watertown Privateers in which a collision between Danville goalie Nick Niedert and Watertown enforcer and noted pest Jeff Dill took place, sparking a line brawl, and soon spilled between benches, and punches were briefly thrown between Danville interim coach Mike Kellermeyer and Privateers coach Brad Zangs. Officials managed to get the situation under control thanks to the arrival of local police. The next meeting between the two teams resulted in a sellout at Watertown Municipal Arena, however cooler heads prevailed for that contest.
The Staged Fight and Beer incident
In the final game of the regular season between Danville and Dayton, two friends and former teammates decided to stage a fight in the 3rd period. With a 4-0 lead with less than 10 minutes to go, it had little impact on the game itself, but the impact of what happened next would gain more attention nationwide than the FHL has ever seen. Jesse Felten and Matt Puntureri, both notable players in the FHL, squared off at center ice, and as punches would have been thrown, both players hugged it out instead. Next, Puntureri would pull a can of Coors Light from his pads, open it, and in each other's embrace, Matt and Jesse skated around center ice toasting the crowd to mixed reactions. With several media outlets waiting for a reaction, the league announced that Jesse Felten would be suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. However Puntureri's fate is yet to be known, since it was Danville's last game, and they were out of playoff contention, so he has served no suspension, however he could still be handed one out during the offseason. Puntureri would later say he believes he will be banned for life.
Commissioner's Cup IV
The Dayton Demonz would win the first series over the Watertown Privateers, 2 games to 1, to play top seeded Danbury in the finals. Danbury would win the first two games of the finals, game one in OT from a goal by Igor Karlov. Back in Dayton for Game 3 the Demonz would sport new jerseys, which many believe gave them luck. Mike Brown, a Boston Bruins Draft pick from the early 2000s, would be injured and Kevin Hoy took over in net for Danbury. This would be the turning point in the series as Dayton captain Brian Marks scored in OT to force a game 4, which Dayton would also win. Dayton would win game 5 and the Commissioner's Cup in a blowout 9-2 victory. Jeff Rose was awarded the Playoff MVP award.
Season V: 2014–15
The FHL awarded a new franchise to play in Southwest Pennsylvania to begin play in the 2014-15 season, named the Southwest Pennsylvania Magic. The Magic were to play at the Rostraver Ice Garden in Belle Vernon, PA. This would bring the league team total to 5 and mark the FHL's return to Pennsylvania after the folding of the Williamsport Outlaws during the 2012-13 season. In an interview, commissioner Don Kirnan stated he hopes to see as many as 7-8 teams in the FHL next season.However, after playing one game in which they lost 10-2 to the Berkshire Battalion, the SWPA Magic's membership in the league was revoked due to financial problems. They were replaced, under new ownership, by the Steel City Warriors, again located in Belle Vernon.
On July 14, 2014, the FHL announced another new franchise to begin play in Berlin, New Hampshire to be called the Berlin River Drivers. However on September 8, 2014, before ever playing a game in New Hampshire, the FHL announced the team would play the season in North Adams, Massachusetts as the Berkshire Battalion.
During the 2013-14 season, a group of local investors was working to purchase the Watertown Privateers, owned by Don Kirnan. On May 14, 2014, news circulated that the owners group, named Top Shelf Hockey, LLC and led by local businessman Stanley Tibbles, had acquired Kirnan's franchise rights to the city of Watertown and, with them, started a new team, eventually named the Watertown Wolves.
On October 30, 2014 it was announced that a neutral site game would take place on January 31, 2015 in Port Huron, Michigan at McMorran Place. The Danville Dashers defeated the Danbury Whalers 4 to 1 in the Port Huron game. The attendance at the game was 1,709 showing positive signs for FHL expansion into Port Huron as early as the 2015-2016 season.
The Watertown Wolves captured first place by the end of regular season and were followed by the Dayton Demonz who finished in second place. The Danville Dashers finished in third followed by the Danbury Whalers who finished in fourth. Newcomer, the Berkshire Battalion, finished fifth followed by the other newcomer, the Steel City Warriors, who finished in sixth place. The Wolves would win the FHL Championship in the playoffs over the Dashers in a five-game series on March 29, 2015.
On April 2, 2015, the FHL announced an expansion team in Port Huron to begin play in the 2015–16 season.
On April 3, 2015, the Danbury Ice Arena did not want to renew their contract with the Danbury Whalers and gave them a notice to evict by April 17 leaving the last remaining team from the inaugural FHL season homeless. On April 17, 2015, the Steel City Warriors announced that it had suspended operations stating that the team was unable to find a suitable home arena with hopes to return for the 2016–17 season. However, the FHL has run into financial trouble after losing a lawsuit in which the U.S. Federal Court has ordered the FHL to pay former player Kyler Moje a sum of $800,000 after becoming legally blind due to an injury incurred during a game on February 10, 2012. Without having the finances to pay such a large sum, the league may be forced to fold and reorganize under a different corporate entity.
|Berkshire Battalion||2014||Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial||1,000||North Adams, Massachusetts|
|Danbury Whalers||2010||Danbury, Connecticut|
|Danville Dashers||2011||David S. Palmer Arena||2,350||Danville, Illinois|
|Dayton Demonz||2012||Hara Arena||5,500||Dayton, Ohio|
|Port Huron||2015||McMorran Place||3,400||Port Huron, Michigan|
|Watertown Wolves||2014||Watertown Municipal Arena||1,500||Watertown, New York|
Season year includes the off season and playing season until the championship game.
* - Indicates event took place mid-season
‡ - Indicates event occurred prior to the team ever playing a game
† - Indicates mid-season road-only replacement team
- 2010–11 – Akwesasne Warriors
- 2011–12 – New Jersey Outlaws
- 2012–13 – Danbury Whalers
- 2013–14 – Dayton Demonz
- 2014–15 – Watertown Wolves
- "Corporation". Mississippi Secretary of State. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "FHL Fact Sheet". Federal Hockey League. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "FHL Frequently Asked Questions". Federal Hockey League. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- Lindsay, Joy (December 17, 2010). "Barons Leave Broome County". Binghamton Sun-Press. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- "Cape Cod has a hockey team!". Cape Cod Today. January 1, 2011. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
- Pitarresi, John (February 9, 2010). "Frenzy season ends; team might leave Rome". Utica Observer-Dispatch. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011. The Federal Hockey League has announced a press conference set for May 30th at 2pm at Hara Arena in Dayton, Ohio about a new franchise. Hara Arena is the former home of the Dayton Gems of the Central Hockey League.
- "FHL History". FHL. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Dayton Expansion Draft
- Outlaws ride into Williamsport PA
- Professional hockey coming to Williamsport's Bowman Field
- "New Team Joins The Federal Hockey League". FHL. April 11, 2014.
- "Federal Hockey League One Team Smaller". WWNYTV. October 21, 2014.
- Warriors Born After Magic Vanished
- "Professional hockey coming to Berlin". The Berlin Daily Sun. July 14, 2014.
- "Berkshire Battalion Announced as 6th Federal Hockey League". FHL. September 8, 2014.
- "Port Huron gets a taste of Federal Hockey League". The Times Herald. February 2, 2015.
- "Wolves Bite Down and Hold on to Win FHL Championship, 6-2". FHL. March 29, 2015.
- "FHL welcomes Port Huron for 2015-16 season". FHL. April 2, 2015.
- "Arena ends agreement in evicting Danbury Whalers". The News-Times. April 8, 2015.
- "Steel City Warriors suspend operations". FHL. April 17, 2015.
- "Federal Hockey League says it may be forced to fold". Watertown Daily Times. April 17, 2015.
- "Federal Hockey League (FHL)". OurSports Central. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- "FHL's Newest Team - STEEL CITY WARRIORS". FHL. October 22, 2014.