Federal Hockey League
Federal Hockey League
|No. of teams||6|
|Most recent champion(s)||Watertown Wolves (1st title)|
|Official website||FHL website|
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 is the league's Commissioner.
2010–11 – Inaugural Season
In its inaugural season, the league had a salary cap of $5,050 per week. The roster was limited to 20 players for the first six games and 17 thereafter.
A handful of National Hockey League players and draft picks joined the ranks, most notably Pierre Dagenais and Billy Tibbetts. Dagenais, who played 142 games 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 helped 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 won the first Commissioner's Cup title with a 3-1 series win over the New York Aviators.
In February 2011, the FHL announced it would add new teams in Morrisville, Vermont and Danville, Illinois, later named the Green Mountain Rock Crushers and.the Danville Dashers. In May, the FHL announced an expansion team in Wayne, New Jersey, called the New Jersey Outlaws. By June, 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. But by July 2011, the Nationals had folded and the Green Mountain Rock Crushers (which later changed its name to the Vermont Wild in September) were re-added to the schedule. 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; the Federals 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) at the Hara Arena. The Dayton expansion draft and the Brooklyn player dispersal draft were both held on June 15.
In July it was announced that the defending champion New Jersey Outlaws were relocating to Williamsport, PA. 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, 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 the Bluefins 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.
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 single-game attendance in the history of the league.
The FHL played 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 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 Jeff Dill took place, sparking a brawl, and soon spilled between benches, and punches were briefly thrown between Danville 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, but there were no further incidents.
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 and less than 10 minutes to go, Jesse Felten and Matt Puntureri squared off at center ice, and as punches would have been thrown, both players hugged it out instead. Next, Puntureri pulled a can of beer from his pads, opened it, and in each other's embrace, the two skated around center ice toasting the crowd to mixed reactions. The league announced that Felten would be suspended for the remainder of the season and the playoffs. No immediate discipline for Puntureri was announced, since it was Danville's last game of the season. Puntureri later stated that he believed he would be banned for life. Neither Felten nor Puntuereri -- respectively the second and fifth leading all-time scorers of the league -- played professional hockey in the 2015 season.
Commissioner's Cup IV
The Dayton Demonz won the first series over the Watertown Privateers, two games to one, 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 sported new jerseys. Mike Brown, a Boston Bruins draft pick from the early 2000s, was injured and Kevin Hoy took over in net for Danbury. Dayton captain Brian Marks scored in overtime to force a game 4, which Dayton also won. Dayton won game 5 and the Commissioner's Cup in a 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 brought the league to five teams and mark the FHL's return to Pennsylvania. In an interview, commissioner Don Kirnan stated he hoped to see as many as 7-8 teams in the FHL by the next season.However, after playing one game in which they lost 10-2 to the Berkshire Battalion, the 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, the league announced that the league would expand instead into North Adams, Massachusetts, with the Berkshire Battalion, citing the market to be a better fit.
During the previous season, a group of local investors worked 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 and 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, with an eye towards future expansion into Port Huron. The Danville Dashers defeated the Danbury Whalers 4 to 1 in the Port Huron game. The attendance at the game was 1,709.
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. The Wolves won the FHL Championship in the playoffs over the Dashers in a five-game series.
On April 3, 2015, the Danbury Ice Arena announced that it did not want to renew its 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, but had hopes to return for the 2016–17 season. However, the FHL lost a lawsuit in which the league was ordered to pay former player Kyler Moje a sum of $800,000, after Moje became 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. The FHL has appealed the judgment.
On May 20, 2015, the Berlin River Drivers announced their resurrection as the FHL's 7th team, to play at Notre Dame Arena in Berlin, New Hampshire. A year prior, the River Drivers were slated to join the FHL in 2014–15 before the league reassessed their options and expanded into North Adams, MA instead.
On June 3, 2015, it was reported that due in part to the eviction of the Danbury Whalers, the Federal Hockey League will announce a new team based in Brewster, New York. They new team will play at the Brewster Ice Arena  and be called the Stateline Whalers. This new team will be owned by Barry Soskin, who also owns the Port Huron team and has been president of both the Danville and Dayton teams. The Danbury Whalers are officially considered to be on hiatus for the season by the FHL, but gave up their naming and territorial rights to Brewster. If a Danbury team were to return it would likely be under a new name.
The Watertown Wolves announced that they would suspend operations due to their arena being renovated and an inability to find a temporary arena to use in Northern New York on June 22, 2015.
|Berkshire Battalion||2014||Peter W. Foote Vietnam Veterans Memorial||1,000||North Adams, Massachusetts|
|Berlin River Drivers||2015||Notre Dame Arena||1,680||Berlin, New Hampshire|
|Danville Dashers||2011||David S. Palmer Arena||2,350||Danville, Illinois|
|Dayton Demonz||2012||Hara Arena||5,500||Dayton, Ohio|
|Port Huron Prowlers||2015||McMorran Place||3,400||Port Huron, Michigan|
|Stateline Whalers||2010||Brewster Ice Arena||850||Brewster, 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
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- Lindsay, Joy (December 17, 2010). "Barons Leave Broome County". Binghamton Sun-Press. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved October 14, 2011.
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- "FHL History". FHL. Retrieved February 15, 2015.
- Dayton Expansion Draft
- Outlaws ride into Williamsport PA
- Professional hockey coming to Williamsport's Bowman Field
- Slate, Ralph (26 May 2015). "Top 25 All-Time Scorers, Federal Hockey League". HockeyDB.com.
- "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.
- "FHL Approves Berlin River Drivers Membership". FHL. May 20, 2015.
- Haggerty, Nancy (June 3, 2015). "With Danbury team gone, pro hockey comes to Brewster". LoHud. Retrieved June 4, 2015.
- "Stateline Whalers Join the Federal Hockey League". FHL. June 13, 2015.
- "Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report". Our Sports Central. June 29, 2015.
- "Watertown Wolves Cancel Upcoming Hockey Season". WWNY-TV. June 22, 2015. Retrieved June 23, 2015.
- "Federal Hockey League (FHL)". OurSports Central. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
- "FHL's Newest Team - STEEL CITY WARRIORS". FHL. October 22, 2014.