Major League Roller Hockey
||This article may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may only interest a specific audience. (January 2013)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (January 2013)|
|Most recent season or competition:
2011–12 MLRH season
|Founded||1998, Alexandria, Virginia, United States|
|TV partner(s)||Roller Hockey TV|
|Related competitions||MLRH Pro
MLRH Summer Cup
Slamm Hockey League
Major League Roller Hockey (MLRH) is a limited liability company which operates multiple inline hockey leagues and tournaments. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, MLRH is one of the only full-contact inline hockey competitions in the world.
The league was organized in 1998 in Alexandria, Virginia, United States, after the suspension of operations of a predecessor organization, Roller Hockey International (RHI), which had been founded in 1993.
MLRH draws many players with former college and pro ice hockey experience, as well as "pure" inline hockey players. Although Americans have historically constituted the majority of the players in MLRH, the league also attracts Canadian and European trained players to the league.
MLRH expanded to Europe in 2012 with a pan-European series of competitions spanning from top level hockey to youth and amateur competitions.
|New York/New Jersey Rockers||1|
|Rocky Mountain Wolverines||1|
After the suspension of Roller Hockey International (RHI) for the 1998 season, Major League Roller Hockey was founded in 1998 in Alexandria, Virginia by entrepreneur Bill Raue. The inaugural season featured two franchises from the suspended RHI (the Anaheim Bullfrogs and Buffalo Wings) and 18 new franchises, with 11 in the United States, one in Canada and six in the United Kingdom. The first games were played during the summer of 1998. Hugo Belanger of the Virginia Vultures, former Roller Hockey International leading scorer, finished the inaugural season leading the league in goals (79), assists (79) and points (158). The Anaheim Bullfrogs defeated the Orlando Surge to win the first Jason Cup title in front of 10,000 fans at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.
While MLRH operated successfully in its inaugural season, the league went on hiatus for the 1999 season. Roller Hockey International returned in 1999 for one last season before folding for good. MLRH however fell victim to the demise of RHI and was brought down as professional roller hockey flamed out in 1999. According to Bill Raue, "There were so many bad feelings when RHI folded with $40 million in losses that it was virtually impossible to play at the professional level."[attribution needed]
Returning in 2000, MLRH operated throughout the Midwest and Eastern seaboard, playing with primarily amateur players. Starting in 2005, MLRH expanded to a Super League with the American champion facing the European champion in a world championship. In 2009, MLRH moved to a pro tour-style league before returning to a traditional home-and-home style league in 2010.
In 2008, Bill Raue brought aboard former professional ice and inline player Doug Jones, who had a reputation for being hard, but fair, when it came to league policies and enforcement. Jones, who had much success with the Wayne Gretzky Roller Hockey centers, which at one time had five locations in the western and eastern United States, had also been a pivotal behind-the-scenes organizer in the resurrection of professional inline hockey in Southern California, the Elite League, IHA, Jones as both a player and later as president of IHA, had moderate success with helping to promote and get the league recognition. The league played in the Anaheim Convention center during the 2006–2007, season. Jones's team the SC Bulls were in first place when the league ceased operations after 6 regular season games. Jones, known for his hard stance on rules and no-nonsense attitude, had MLRH owners frustrated with their inability to "complain" to turn things their way. This included failure to pay franchise fees and other league expenses. Jones began cleaning up MLRH and removing the teams and owners who had not met their financial requirements – a move that clearly brought him much criticism by the teams and owners who had been used to running things their way.
"MLRH had a great product, my goals were to recognize the leagues' assets, its players and put forth fair and reasonable rules and codes of conducts to ensure growth and an even playing field for all who participated."[attribution needed] – Doug Jones, MLRH Commissioner, 2009
In 2009–2010, Jones set structure with teams in place and a board of governors which included team owners to head MLRH back on track with their issues and problems. With the difficulty in managing self-serving personalities who tried to benefit themselves rather than the league, Jones and Raue made the decision to scrap the democratic process and eliminated the board. MLRH then proceeded to have two of its most popular seasons in 2010–2011, and 2011–2012, where the Mission Axiom won both championships and dominated the playing floor with a record of 30–0–0, in regular-season play. Jones also recruited and developed a Midwest division, which resulted in the addition of the Chicago Carnage, Motor City Assault, Ny Rockers and Buffalo Excitement, in 2011–2012. This accompanied by the Mission Axiom, Hollywood Dream, Anaheim Bullfrogs and Arizona Arsenal, MLRH had a resurgence in 2011–2012 with a "West vs. East" final between the Mission Axiom and the Motor City Assault. The finals resulted in Mission winning the league championship, two games to one over the Assault.
MLRH also re-invented itself as it brought forth "Rollerhockeytv", (rollerhockeytv.net) to viewers across the world. RHTV, a webcast of MLRH games, brought viewers "live" action of MLRH games from California and the Midwest. During the 2010–2011 season, MLRH featured division games from the Pacific division for viewers to partake and watch. This bolstered by the success of sponsors, MLRH had record numbers for revenue and a game on February 12, 2011, between the Pama Cyclones and Mission Axiom which garnered over 10,000 views. In this game, Juaquin Chavira and Chris Connole respectively of the Cyclones an Axiom, squared off to a fight that drew a crowd of over 500 in attendance. Rollerhockeytv.net also acquired sponsors like Mission Hockey, Labeda wheels, Tour hockey, Revision and Rinkrat wheels.
In 2011–2012, MLRH and rollerhockeytv.net continued its presence, webcasting a record eight events from both California (The Rinks in Irvine) and Michigan (Total Roller Hockey) for games during the season. During the MLRH playoffs, games were not webcast due to MLRH and its production company, Videotrails, failing to reach contract terms. MLRH has secured new production and will be webcasting the State Wars hockey event from St. Louis, Missouri, August 2012 and begin webcasting its regular season in October 2012 once again, from Irvine, California at the "Rinks" in Irvine.[dated info] The league brought back the Anaheim Bullfrogs of RHI and on opening in October 2011, retired Joe Cook's jersey. In December 2011, MLRH repeated by retiring Rob Laurie's jersey; both are high up in the rafters at the "Rinks" in Irvine.
"Our 2011 - 2012 season was our most successful to date. We showed that the league could run divisions in other parts of the country and in the finals, with the Motor City Assault defeating the Mission Axiom in game one, we saw that the opportunity with careful and planned growth, MLRH could continue to expand into other regions".[attribution needed] – Doug Jones, MLRH Commissioner, 2012
MLRH is the only professional league that runs a regular season and playoffs with a $10,000 purse to be paid to the players. As the Mission Axiom can attest, the team was paid both times they won their championships in 2011 and 2012.
For the 2012–2013 season, MLRH has a Pacific Division and Midwest division and is working on expansion into the Texas and Florida area with the "Lone Star and Sunshine Division". MLRH is also working on teams in Southern Florida as well. The 2012–2013 MLRH Finals have been set for Novi, Michigan in March 2013 and MLRH has awarded a semifinal seed to its brother league, MLRH Europe, (mlrheurope.com) for the 2013 playoffs in the Midwest. MLRH Europe's top team will come to the US to play in the playoffs and have an opportunity to compete for the $10,000 cash purse in the 2013 post-season.
MLRH Europe ran its first events this year in 2012, including the European Cup, which saw the Koovee Rollers of Finland defeat everyone on their way to the European title. MLRH Europe is slated for their next big event in Mannheim, Germany, October 5–7. President of MLRH Europe is Setti Mulari.
Each Major League Roller Hockey PRO regulation game is played between two teams and is 40 minutes long. The game is composed of two 20-minute halves with an intermission of either one minute between the halves. At the end of the 40-minute regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, a 5 minute overtime ensues with the floor strength 3 on 3. If no winner is declared, four shooters for each team in turn take a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during the four-round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the four shootout rounds, the shootout becomes sudden death. Whichever team ultimately wins the shootout is awarded a goal in the game score and thus awarded two points in the standings. The losing team in overtime or shootout is awarded only one. Shootout goals and saves are not tracked in hockey statistics; shootout statistics are tracked separately.
Shootouts do not occur during the playoffs. In the playoffs, sudden-death 20-minute four-on-four periods are played until one team scores.
 Inline hockey rink
Major League Roller Hockey games are played on a regulation hockey rink with rounded corners surrounded by walls and Plexiglas. MLRH standards call for a rink measuring 85 feet by 200 feet. The center line divides the floor in half, and is used to judge illegal clearing violations. Near the end of both ends of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the floor, which is used to judge goals and illegal clearing calls.
While Major League Roller Hockey follows the general rules of inline hockey, it differs slightly from those used in National Hockey League games. Infractions of the rules can lead to either the stoppage of play in the case of offside and illegal clearing calls, or a penalty call for more serious infractions.
The league has different rules regarding being offside. First, the league only has an "offside pass" rule, which requires a stoppage in play if a pass originating from inside a team's defending zone was completed on the offensive side of the center line, unless the puck crossed the line before the player. Furthermore, the league also does not have an a standard "offside" rule resulting from skate position.
Another rule difference between MLRH and the NHL rules concerns how illegal clearings are called. In MLRH, a linesman stops play due to illegal clearing the moment the puck crosses the goal line, in contrast to the NHL rules where play is stopped if a defending play (other than the goaltender) touches the puck before an attacking player is able to. It is similar in that, when a team is guilty of illegally clearing the puck they are not allowed to make a line change before the following faceoff.
MLRH and the NHL differ also in penalty rules. In MLRH, a minor penalties called have a duration of one and one half minutes, while in the NHL, they have a duration of two minutes. Double minor penalties in MLRH have a duration of three minutes, as opposed to four minutes in the NHL. Major penalites in MLRH have a duration of four minutes, as opposed to five minutes in the NHL. Players who receive a second fighting major in MLRH games are ejected from the game, and suspended for two games immediately in contrast to the NHL rule. Usually a penalized team cannot replace a player that is penalized on the floor and is thus shorthanded for the duration of the penalty, but if the penalties are coincidental, for example when two players fight, both teams remain at full strength. Also, unlike minor penalties, major penalties must be served to their full completion, regardless of number of goals scored during the power play.
MLRH also has an instigator rule for players who wear half shields and cages. Any player wearing such who receives a high sticking penalty is assessed a double minor automatically. Any player who instigates a fight wearing such, is assessed a minor automatically, unless at the discretion of the official, the player takes his helmet off to square off with his foe.
Major League Roller Hockey originated in 2008 with fourteen American teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations, MLRH currently consists of 15 teams, all of which are based in the United States. The Marple Gladiators are the most successful franchise with two World Championships. The most successful active franchises are the Buffalo Wings and Mission Axiom, each with one World Championship. The longest streak of winning the World Championship in consecutive years is two, held by the Marple Gladiators from 2002–03 to 2003–04 and Mission Axiom 2010 - 11 to 2011 - 2012.
 List of teams
|New Jersey Grizzlies|
|Buffalo Wings||Buffalo, New York||Amherst Ice Center||1994|
|Chicago Carnage||Chicago, Illinois||2009||2011||Kenny Van Sky||Bryan Birman|
|Detroit Mission Stars|
|Grand Rapids Grim Reapers|
|Pacific||Long Beach Whalers|
 Season structure
Major League Roller Hockey season is divided into an exhibition season (October), a regular season (from the first week in November through early to mid March) and a postseason (the MLRH playoffs). During the regular season, clubs play each other in a predefined schedule. The MLRH playoffs, which goes from March to the end of May, is an elimination tournament where two teams play against each other to win a single elimination game in order to advance to the next round. The final remaining team is crowned the MLRH World Champion.
In the regular season, each team plays 15 games; in tournament fashion (three games per event). Points are awarded for each game, where two points are awarded for a win, one point for losing in overtime or a shootout, and zero points for a loss in regulation.
Points are awarded for each game, where two points are awarded for a win, one point for losing in overtime or a shootout, and zero points for a loss in regulation. Among major professional sports leagues, the NHL is the only one to award a team points for losing in overtime.
At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each division is crowned the division champion. The three division champions along with the five other teams in the league with the next highest number of points, for a total of 8 teams, qualify for the playoffs. The division winners are seeded one through three (even if a non-division winner has a higher point total), and the next five teams with the best records in the conference are seeded four through eight. The MLRH playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle to win a single elimination game in order to advance to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or quarterfinals, consists of the first seed playing the eighth seed, the second playing the seventh, third playing the sixth, and the fourth playing the fifth. In the second round, or semifinals, MLRH re-seeds the teams, with the top remaining seed playing the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining teams pairing off. In the third round, MLRH Finals, the two remaining teams play each other for the world championship.
In each round the higher-ranked team is said to be the team with the home-floor advantage. The game is played at this team's home venue. In the MLRH Finals, the game is played at a neutral-site regardless of where each team ranks.
 Notable active players
The top five point scorers in the 2010–11 season were Juaquin Chavira (58), KC Groon (39), Chris Connole (33), Chris Fraterrigo (25), and Josh Larrichia (24). The top goaltenders (by goals against average) were Mike Urbano (2.12), Troy Redman (2.29), Troy Strong (2.48), Lucas Pagliassotti (3.33), and Nevin Iwamatsu (3.49).
 See also
- List of American and Canadian cities by number of major professional sports franchises
- List of defunct MLRH teams
- List of professional sports teams in the United States and Canada
- List of TV markets and major sports teams
- Major League Roller Hockey 2
- Major League Roller Hockey AA
- MLRH AAA season
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