New England Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league based in Boston, Massachusetts, Republic of New England, designed to bring the RNE and the surrounding "new nations" (Republic of Quebec and Eastern Republic of Acadia) into ice hockey prominence. The rival NHL has two teams in the Quebec-New England-Acadia region (the Boston Bruins in Boston, Mass., RNE, and Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, Quebec). The NEHL was founded in 1986 and began play in 1987.
Hockey has always been popular in the maritime provinces, Quebec and New England, and the popularity exploded after the secession of all three regions. There are more NEHL teams in Maine than any other area in the three nations.
The NEHL focuses more on the smaller communities of the RNE, ROQ and ERA, even though large areas like Boston, Quebec City, Montreal and St. John's are represented.
Champions of the NEHL are awarded the York Cup (Coupe de York), named after Francis York, the founder of the league. The Boston Braves and Portland Firebirds are split, each winning the NEHL title five times.
There are 32 teams in the NEHL, and the league has expanded every five years, starting in 1990. The original teams are the Portland Firebirds, Hartford Whalers (who moved to the NEHL from the NHL), Montreal Wanderers, Boston Braves, Cambridge Crimson (the only Original Team never to make the York Cup Finals), Bridgeport Panthers, Bangor Kings and Springfield Falcons.
The NEHL uses a different playoff format than other major North American sports leagues, with no division of teams at all. The teams with the 16 best records in the league advance to the playoffs, and are matched with another team randomly (so the two best teams could meet in the first round).
List of teams in the NEHL:
Portland Firebirds (Portland, Maine, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Kittery Capitals (Kittery, Maine, RNE) 1995 - pres.
Bar Harbor Pirates (Bar Harbor, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.
Bath Battleships (Bath, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.
Manchester Giants (Manchester, New Hampshire, RNE)
Cape Cod Clippers (Cape Cod, Massachusetts, RNE) 1990 - pres.
Moncton Ravens (Moncton, New Brunswick, ERA) 2000 - pres.
Fredricton Loons (Fredricton, New Brunswick, ERA) 1995 - pres.
Saint John Demons (Saint John, New Brunswick, ERA) 2000 - pres.
Montreal Wanderers (Montreal, Quebec) 1987 - pres.
Lowell Patriots (Lowell, Massachusetts, RNE) 2000 - pres.
Quebec Nordiques (Quebec City, Quebec) 1987 - pres.
Concord Eagles (Concord, New Hampshire, RNE) 2005 - pres.
Fort Kent Chickadees (Fort Kent, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.
Bangor Kings (Bangor, Maine, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Worcester Blades (Worcester, Massachusetts, RNE) 1995 - pres.
Orono Black Bears (Orono, Maine, RNE) 2000 - pres.
Boston Braves (Boston, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Plymouth Explorers (Plymouth, Massachusetts, RNE) 1990 - pres.
Springfield Falcons (Springfield, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Hartford Whalers (Hartford, Connecticut, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Providence Islanders (Providence, Rhode Island, RNE) 1995 - pres.
Burlington Blue Jays (Burlington, Vermont, RNE) 1995 - pres.
Bridgeport Panthers (Bridgeport, Connecticut, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Halifax Sea Dogs (Halifax, Nova Scotia, ERA) 1990 - pres.
Labrador Lions (Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador, ERA) 2005 - pres.
Newfoundland Hawks (St. John's, Newfoundland, ERA) 2005 - pres.
Corner Brook Cardinals (Corner Brook, Newfoundland, ERA) 2000 - pres.
Lewiston Barons (Lewiston, Maine, RNE) 1990 - pres.
Cambridge Crimson (Cambridge, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.
Troy Ironmen (Troy, West Vermont, RNE) 2005 - pres.
Sherbrooke Athlétique (Sherbrooke, Quebec) 1995 - pres.
Expansion 1990: Six Teams
Burlington Blue Jays
Cape Cod Clippers
Halifax Sea Dogs
Portsmouth Angels (relocated to Fort Kent to become the Chickadees in 2005)
Expansion 1995: Six Teams
Chelsea Bulldogs (relocated to Corner Brook to become the Cardinals in 2000)
Expansion 2000: Four Teams
Orono Black Bears
Saint John Demons
Expansion 2005: Six Teams
Bar Harbor Pirates
The NEHL doesn't use a conventional North American playoff format. Rather than having two leagues or conferences and multiple divisions in each league, the NEHL gives the top 16 teams at the end of the regular season playoff spots, then divides them at random into eight-team brackets, with the two top teams being placed in separate brackets. The NEHL playoffs then follow the conventional playoff format, with a quarterfinals, semifinals and conference finals. The winner of the four quarterfinal match ups move onto the semifinals, who then move onto the conference finals before moving on to the York Cup finals.
List of former teams of the NEHL
Two teams have folded since the founding of the NEHL.
Chelsea Bulldogs (Chelsea, Massachusetts, RNE) 1995 - 1999 (relocated to Corner Brook to become the Cardinals)
Portsmouth Angels (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, RNE) 1990-2004 (relocated to Fort Kent to become the Chickadees)
List of York Cup Winners
|Year||Winning team||Losing team||Games|
|1987||Hartford Whalers||Boston Braves||4-1|
|1988||Hartford Whalers||Portland Firebirds||4-2|
|1989||Boston Braves||Hartford Whalers||4-3|
|1990||Montreal Wanderers||Boston Braves||4-1|
|1991||Boston Braves||Montreal Wanderers||4-0|
|1992||Portland Firebirds||Montreal Wanderers||4-3|
|1993||Hartford Whalers||Boston Braves||4-2|
|1994||Portland Firebirds||Hartford Whalers||4-2|
|1995||Boston Braves||Portland Firebirds||4-3|
|1996||Montreal Wanderers||Boston Braves||4-2|
|1997||Quebec Nordiques||Burlington Blue Jays||4-0|
|1998||Hartford Whalers||Boston Braves||4-2|
|1999||Boston Braves||Montreal Wanderers||4-0|
|2000||Moncton Ravens||Boston Braves||4-3|
|2001||Bangor Kings||Moncton Ravens||4-0|
|2002||Springfield Falcons||Lowell Patriots||4-2|
|2003||Halifax Sea Dogs||Plymouth Explorers||4-0|
|2004||Portland Firebirds||Frediricton Loons||4-0|
|2005||Kittery Capitals||Hartford Whalers||4-1|
|2006||Corner Brook Cardinals||Sherbrooke Athletique||4-3|
|2007||Fort Kent Chickadees||Corner Brook Cardinals||4-3|
|2008||Labrador Lions||Kittery Capitals||4-3|
|2009||Portland Friebirds||Cape Cod Clippers||4-0|
|2010||Portland Firebirds||Corner Brook Cardinals||4-0|
|2011||Boston Braves||Quebec Nordiques||4-0|