BeNe League (ice hockey)

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BeNe League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2017–18 BeNe League season
SportIce hockey
Founded2015
FounderRoyal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation &
Netherlands Ice Hockey Association
PresidentPascal Nuchelmans[1]
No. of teams13
Country
ContinentEurope
Most recent
champion(s)
Flyers Heerenveen (1st)
Most titlesHYC Herentals
Flyers Heerenveen
Hijs Hokij (1 each)
Related
competitions
Official websitewww.beneleague-icehockey.com

The BeNe League (Dutch: Beneliga) is the highest-level ice hockey league in Belgium and the Netherlands. The league was founded in 2015, following a merger between the Belgian Hockey League and the Dutch Eredivisie and thus became the top tier of the sport in both nations. In terms of league structure, the BeNe League is made up of 13 teams, 9 from the Netherlands and a further 4 from Belgium, and they all play in a single group. The league features a mix of Belgian, Dutch, European and overseas players.

Overview[edit]

The BeNe League is made up of 13 teams, 9 based in the Netherlands and 4 based in Belgium, In the first season, the league comprised 16 teams (10 from the Netherlands and 6 from Belgium). These 16 teams were split into two groups, each containing 5 Dutch teams and 3 Belgian teams. Each team played a total of 22 games over the course of the regular season, they played each team in their division twice, as well as once against every team in the other division. Points are awarded in the following fashion, 3 points for a win, 2 for a win in overtime and 1 for an overtime loss.

At the end of the regular season, the top 4 teams from each division qualified for the playoffs. The playoff quarterfinals were played over two legs, whilst the semi-finals and final were both played as a best of three series. The winner of the playoffs was then crowned the league victor.[2] On top of this, the league also crowns National Champions from each country. The team that advances the furthest through the playoffs from each country is subsequently crowned as National Champion.

One of the Netherlands most successful ice hockey teams, the Tilburg Trappers, announced that they would not be a part of the BeNe League, and would instead join the Oberliga, the 3rd tier of ice hockey in Germany. They do however, operate a developmental team in the BeNe League in the form of Tilburg Trappers II.[3]

History[edit]

Following the 2009 season of the Belgian Hockey League, HYC Herentals and White Caps Turnhout decided to the join the Eredivisie, whilst the remaining 3 teams dropped down a division and played instead in the Belgian National League. This resulted in the North Sea Cup being played in place of both the Belgian Hockey League and the Eredivisie. Following the culmination of the 2011–12 season, in which White Caps Turnhout dropped out midway through the season,[4] followed by the Leuven Chiefs also stating they would be leaving the competition, it was announced that the Eredivisie would once again take place, and that HYC Herentals would participate. A reformed Belgian Hockey League, featuring both Leuven Chiefs, White Caps Turnhout, and former Belgian National League teams would also take place.

The Geleen Eaters released a statement via their website stating they were unsure if they would be able to compete in the 2014/15 Eredivisie due to lack of funding, which is an issue that also occurred the previous year. On August 26, 2014 Geleen stated that in order to participate in the upcoming season they would have to raise somewhere in the region of €60,000.[5]

This was soon followed by an announcement that the Dodrecht Lions would be dropping down to the Eerst Divisie, and it was subsequently reported in September 2014 that the Eredivisie was in a state of Crisis due to the fact that the league was reduced to five participants. Furthermore, one of those five teams, Eindhoven Kemphanen, declared that they had no interest playing in a five team league, which potentially reduced the Eredivisie down to four teams for the 2014/15 season.[6]

Eindhoven Kemphanen subsequently agreed to play in a 5 team league, which also featured Geleen Eaters, HYC Herentals, Heerenveen Flyers and Tilburg Trappers,[7] and as a result the Eredivisie went ahead.

Following the difficulties both leagues had suffered in the recent years, the hockey federations of both nations worked in partnership, and on 12 June 2015, it was announced that the Belgian Hockey League and the Eredivisie would merge in to the BeNe League.[8]

On 13 March 2016, it was announced that GIJS Groningen would be joining the BeNe League from the Eerst Divisie bringing the number of teams up to 17.[9] It was subsequently announced on 16 June 2016 that the Dordrecht Lions would not be playing in the BeNe League for the upcoming season, instead dropping down a division to the Eerst Divisie.[10] This means that the 2016–17 edition of the BeNe League is projected to stay at 16 teams.

Season format[edit]

In the main round, all 13 teams play a double round competition in the regular season. With this, each team will play 24 games.

The top eight participants from the main round qualify for the play-offs. Playoff quarterfinals and semi-finals will be played as best of three series whilst the final will be played as a best of five series with the winner being crowned as BeNe League Champion.

Teams[edit]

The following teams participated in the 2017/2018 BeNe League.[11]

Current Teams
Team City Arena Capacity Founded
Amstel Tijgers Netherlands Amsterdam Jaap Eden baan 1,300 1963
Antwerp Phantoms Belgium Deurne IJsbaan Ruggerveld N/A 1972
IHC Leuven Belgium Leuven IJsbaan Leuven 800 1993
Dolphins Kemphanen Netherlands Eindhoven IJssportcentrum Eindhoven 1,700 1981
UNIS Flyers Netherlands Heerenveen Thialf 3,500 1967
Hijs Hokij Netherlands The Hague De Uithof 2,610 1933
Herentals HYC Belgium Herentals BLOSO IJsbaan 1,200 1971
Liege Bulldogs Ice Belgium Liege Patinoire de Liège 1,250 1997
Laco Eaters Netherlands Geleen Glanerbrook IJshal 1,200 1968
Nijmegen Devils Netherlands Nijmegen Triavium 1,450 2007
Red Eagles 's-Hertogenbosch Netherlands 's-Hertogenbosch Sportiom 's-Hertogenbosch 7,220 1965
Tilburg Trappers II Netherlands Tilburg Stappegoor IJssportcentrum 2,500 1938
Hotwings Panters Netherlands Zoetermeer Silverdome 3,500 2010

Former Teams[edit]

Former Teams
Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined BeNe Left BeNe
Dordrecht Lions Netherlands Dordrecht Sportboulevard Dordrecht 1,500 1977 2015–16 2016–17
GIJS Groningen Netherlands Groningen Sportcentrum Kardinge 800 1969 2016–17 2017–18
IJCU Dragons Utrecht Netherlands Utrecht De Vechtsebanen 4,000 2008 2015–16 Before 2015–161
Olympia Heist op den Berg Belgium Heist-op-den-Berg Die Swaene N/A 1959 2015–16 2016–17
Turnhout Tigers Belgium Turnhout Kempisch IJsstadion 1,200 1981 2015–16 2016–17
  • 1 Utrecht withdrew their application in June 2015.

Future Teams[edit]

GIJS Groningen announced on 13 March 2016 that they would be joining the BeNe League for the 2016-17 season.[12] GIJS Groningen were formerly known as the Groningen Grizzlies and had previously played in the Eredivisie up until 2010. Since 2010 they have been playing in the Eerste Divisie, the 2nd tier of Ice Hockey in the Netherlands.

Following Dordrecht Lions announcement that they would be leaving the BeNe League on 16 June 2016, GIJS Groningen's decision to step up to the BeNe League ensures that the league will maintain 16 teams for the 2016-17 season.[13] Dodrecht Lions continue to play competitive Ice Hockey in the Eerste Divisie.

Future Teams
Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joining BeNe
GIJS Groningen Netherlands Groningen Sportcentrum Kardinge 800 1969 2016-17

Players[edit]

The BeNe League relies heavily on Belgian and Dutch native players, and as a result the majority of players on the Belgian and Dutch national teams ply their trade in the BeNe League. Of the 18 players that featured for Belgium in the 2016 IIHF World Championship, 17 played in the BeNe League, whilst 13 of the 21-man Dutch team also played in the league.

Overseas players (termed imports) are allowed in the league however, with each team being able to sign 2 imports.[14] An import is defined as any player who is not eligible to play for either the Belgian or Dutch national teams. During the 2015–16 season, players representing 10 further countries played in the league, with nations such as Canada, Czech Republic, Finland and USA represented. Of the 12 North American players that played in the 2015-16 season, 8 had previously played in either the CIS or NCAA Division III ,[15] with one (Trevor Hunt) having prior experience in the ECHL.[16] In terms of prior European experience, players in the BeNe league have previously featured in the Czech Extraliga, the Elite Ice Hockey League and the Slovak Extraliga.[17]

Champions[edit]

Season BeNe League Champion Belgian Champion Dutch Champion
2015–16 Belgium REPLAY HYC Herentals REPLAY HYC Herentals UNIS Flyers Heerenveen
2016–17 Netherlands UNIS Flyers Heerenveen REPLAY HYC Herentals UNIS Flyers Heerenveen
2017–18 Netherlands Hijs Hokij REPLAY HYC Herentals Hijs Hokij

References[edit]

  1. ^ "BeNe League :: About" (in Dutch). Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  2. ^ "RBIHF BeNeLeague staat oppunt" (in Dutch). 17 May 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "Dutch champion in Germany". 12 June 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Update: Turnhout vertrekt uit North Sea Cup" (in Dutch). 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "Situatie weer kritiek in Geleen" (in Dutch). 26 August 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Crisis rond Eredivisie verdiept zich" (in Dutch). 5 September 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  7. ^ "Eredivisie begint met vijf teams" (in Dutch). 12 September 2014. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  8. ^ "Dutch champion in Germany". 12 June 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "GIJS Groningen speelt volgend jaar sowieso BeNe league" (in Dutch). 13 March 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "ProClass Lions komend seizoen eerste divisie" (in Dutch). 16 June 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "BeNe League :: Clubs" (in Dutch). Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  12. ^ "GIJS Groningen speelt volgend jaar sowieso BeNe league" (in Dutch). 13 March 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  13. ^ "ProClass Lions komend seizoen eerste divisie" (in Dutch). 16 June 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  14. ^ "BeNe League 2015-2016" (in Dutch). 20 May 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  15. ^ "BeNeLiga". Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  16. ^ "Trevor Hunt". Retrieved June 18, 2016.
  17. ^ "BeNeLiga". Retrieved June 18, 2016.

External links[edit]