American Inline Hockey League
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Template:Infobox sports league The American Inline Hockey League (AIHL) is a inline hockey league composed of 27 member clubs in total: 26 teams in the Elite Division and 39 teams in the Minor Division. Headquartered in Menomonie, Wisconsin, the AIHL is considered to be one of the premier inline hockey leagues in the United States. The Champions Cup is awarded annually to the league playoff champion of the Elite Division at the end of each season. National championships are also awarded annually to the league playoff champions of the Minor Division Tier 1 and Tier 2 at the end of each season.
The American Inline Hockey League was organized on June 16, 2008, in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, United States, after a series of disputes between club owners and league officials of a predecessor organization, the Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA), which was founded in 2002. It started with 21 clubs and through a series of expansions, contractions, and relocations, is now composed of 27 active clubs. The league draws many highly skilled players, most from the United States.
A series of disputes in the Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA) between disgruntled team owners and league management led to a meeting about the future of the sport. Realizing the owners limited voice in the PIHA, nineteen teams, representing the Boston Swamp Rats, East Bay Jawz, El Paso Black Diamonds, Hartford Fire Ants, Long Island 495ers, Maryland Crusaders (formerly known as the Maryland Knights, later renamed back to the Maryland Knights in 2009), New Jersey Nightmare (formerly known as the Philadelphia Revolution), New Jersey Surge (formerly known as the New Jersey Stampede), Northern California Mustangs, Philadelphia Growl, Phoenix Dragons, Raleigh Dragons (formerly known as the Raleigh Assault), Richmond Robins, San Jose Pirates, Scottdale Inferno, Southampton Cyclones (formerly known as the Feasterville Fury), Steel City Phantoms (formerly known as the Pittsburgh Bandits, later renamed back to the Pittsburgh Bandits in 2009), Tucson Desparados (later renamed to the Tucson Slayers in 2008) and Virginia Generals (formerly known as the Winchester Generals, later renamed back to the Winchester Generals in 2009), voted to defect from the league, and on June 16, 2008, formed the American Inline Hockey League. The Philadelphia Growl organization would fold a few weeks later to be replaced by the expansion Philadelphia Brawlers. 12 organizations would join the league as expansion franchises to bring the total to 31 organizations. The Garden State Savage Wolves, Georgia Syndicate, Massachusetts Mulissha, Northern California Riot, Oakland GoodLife and Suffolk Sharks all joined from existing PIHA locations, and six organizations joining from new areas; the Corona Jr. Ducks, Huntington Beach Elite, Irvine Anarchy and Pama Cyclones from Southern California, and the Las Vegas Aces from Nevada. With the first games being played four months later on October 25, the AIHL's inaugural season was generally considered a successful one.
The Steel City Phantoms won the first Champions Cup, defeating the San Jose Pirates three games to one in the final. Later that summer, the AIHL had its first series of expansion and contraction. The Beantown Braves, Cajun Voo Doo, Houston Sabre Cats, Mile High Mayhem, Ripon Savage, Rocky Mountain Talons and Texas Terror all joined as expansion franchises. The New Jersey Grizzlies and Potomac Mavericks both joined the league from the Professional Inline Hockey Association, although New Jersey would compete in both the AIHL as well as the PIHA. The Oakland GoodLife and Raleigh Dragons both folded after only one season in the league.
In another big step for the league, the final three rounds of the 2010 Champions Cup playoffs were played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the Milk House. Also, the 2010 Champions Cup Final was shown live on ESPN3 on May 30, which saw the Huntington Beach Elite defeat the Long Island 495ers 5–2 to capture their first Champions Cup.
The Executive Board is the ruling and governing body of the league. In this context, each club is a member of the league, and each member appoints an Executive (usually the owner of the club). The Executive Board exists to establish the policies of the league, and to uphold its constitution. Some of the responsibilities of the Executive Board include:
- review and approve any rule changes to the game
- review and approve any changes to the structure of the game schedule
The Executive Board meets once per year, in October, with the exact date and place to be fixed by the president.
The chief executive of the league is the President Keith Noll. Some of the principal decision makers who serve under the authority of the president include:
- Vice President: Jon Roux
- Secretary: Lindsey Geissler
- Tresurer: Chuck Morning
- National Director: Jeff Haze
- National Referee-in-Chief: Paul Pelletier
- Media Director: Richard Kent
- New England Zone: Jim Miller
- Mid Atlantic Zone: Charlie Sgrillo
- Colonial Zone: Richard Kent
- Great Lakes Zone: Jon Roux
- Pacific North Zone: CJ Gamble
- Pacific South/Southwest Zone: Ken Murchison
Each American Inline Hockey League regulation game is played between two teams and is 30 minutes long in the Elite Division, and 24 minutes long in the Minor Division. The game is composed of two 15-minute period in the Elite Division, and two 12-minute periods in the Minor Division, with an intermission of one minute. At the end of regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, overtime ensues. During the regular season, overtime is a five-minute, three-player on three-player sudden-death period, in which the first team to score a goal wins the game. If the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. Three players for each team in turn take a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during the three-round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the three shootout rounds, the shootout continues but 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. There are no shootouts during the Playoffs. Instead, multiple sudden-death, full four-on-four periods are played until one team scores. The overtime period is the same length as the regulation period.
Inline hockey rink
American Inline Hockey League games are played on a rectangular inline hockey rink with rounded corners surrounded by walls and Plexiglas. The official size of the rink measures 200 ft long and 85 ft wide, but may vary in length from 130 ft to 200 ft and may vary in width from 65 ft to 100 ft. The center line divides the rink in half, delineating two attacking zones. Near the end of both ends of the rink, there is a thin red goal line spanning the width of the rink, which is used to judge goals.
While the American Inline Hockey League follows the general rules of inline hockey, it differs slightly from those used in international games organized by the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports (FIRS). The Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports' rules are one of the two standard sets of rules in the world, the other being the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) InLine rules. The rules themselves have evolved directly from the FIRS rules and updated by the USA Roller Sports (USARS) governing body and the grass roots organization, Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). The USARS' rules are the basis for rules governing most inline hockey leagues in North America. Infractions of the rules lead to a stoppage of play and subsequent face-offs, while more serious infractions leading to penalties to the offending teams. The league also determines the specifications for playing equipment used in its games. The league has regularly modified its rules to counter perceived imperfections in the game through the AIHL Rules Addendum.
The league's rules differ from the rules of the Fédération Internationale de Roller Sports, as used in tournaments such as the FIRS Inline Hockey World Championships. In the AIHL, the goal cage measures 48 in tall and 72 in wide, while the FIRS goal cage measures 41 in tall and 67 in wide.
The American Inline Hockey League season divided into an exhibition season (November), a regular season (from the first week in December through early to mid April) and a postseason (the AIHL playoffs and AIHL Finals). During the exhibition season, teams may play other teams from the league. They also may compete against clubs from other leagues. During the regular season, clubs play each other in a predefined schedule. The AIHL playoffs, which go from April to the middle of May, is an elimination tournament where two teams play against each other to win a best-of-three series in order to advance to the next round. The final remaining team in each division is crowned the national champion.
In the regular season, each team plays 24 games. Each team plays the majority of its games in its own geographic zone—three to six games against each one of their other zonal opponents—and two to four games against non-zonal opponents intra-conference opponents—one game against two to four teams in the other zone(s) of its conference.
The league's regular season standings are based on a point system instead of winning percentages. 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. At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each zone is crowned the zone regular season champion.
Since 2014, in the Elite Division, the top four teams in each zone qualify for the playoffs. In the Minor Division, there is a two-tier playoff. The teams finishing first through fourth in each zone qualify for tier 1, and the teams finishing fifth through eighth qualify for tier 2. Most zones have both tiers. The AIHL playoffs is an elimination tournament, where the teams are grouped in pairs to play best-of-three series, the winners moving on to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or zone semi-finals, consists of the first seed playing the fourth seed, and the second playing the third. In the second round, or zone finals, the two remaining teams in the zone play each other, with the zone champions proceeding to the AIHL Finals. In the Western Conference, a non-zone winner from the "national finals host division," qualifies for the finals as a wild card. The final three rounds take place at the national finals. In the third round of the playoffs (first round of the national finals), consists of the second highest-seeded zone winner in each conference playing the lowest-seeded zone winner/wild card, with the highest-seeded zone winner receiving a bye. In the fourth round (second round of the national finals), or conference finals, the two remaining teams in the conference play each other with the conference champions proceeding to the national championship final. The champions of the Elite Division are awarded the Champions Cup.
The American Inline Hockey League originated in 2008 with 31 clubs and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions, and relocations the AIHL currently consists of 27 clubs. The Oakland Goodlife are the most successful Elite Division franchise with two Champions Cup championships. The longest streak of winning the Champions Cup in consecutive years is two, held by the Oakland Goodlife from 2010–11 to 2011–12.
The current league organization divides the teams into two divisions: the Elite Division and the Minor Division. Each division has two conferences: the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference. Each conference has two or three zones: the Eastern Conference has three zones and the Western Conference has two zones.
List of teams
- An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
- An asterisk (*) denotes a franchise move. See the respective team articles for more information.
Trophies and awards
|Huntington Beach Elite||1|
|Long Island 495ers||1|
The American Inline Hockey League presents a number of trophies each year. The most prestigious team award is the Champions Cup, which is awarded to the Elite Division league champion at the end of the AIHL playoffs. The Organization of the Year award is presented to the top overall organization. The Scoring Leader award is awarded to the scoring champion (goals and assists) of each zone in the league. The other player trophies are voted on by the team general managers. The Most Valuable Defenseman award is awarded annually to each zone's top defenceman. The Most Valuable Goaltender is awarded annually to the person deemed the best goalkeeper as voted on by the teams of the AIHL. The Presidents Award is awarded to the player deemed to combine the highest degree of skill and sportsmanship. The top coach in the league wins the Coach of the Year award. These individual awards are presented at a formal ceremony held during the AIHL Finals weekend.
In addition to the regular season awards, the Finals Most Valuable Player award is awarded annually to the most valuable player during the AIHL Finals. The Finals Most Valuable Defenseman is awarded annually to the AIHL Finals' top defenceman. The Finals Most Valuable Goaltender is awarded annually to the person deemed the best goalkeeper at the AIHL Finals.
Notable active players
The top five point scorers in the 2013–14 season were John Pinheiro (77), Brandon Barnett (75), Mark McCreary (72), Darren Corsatea (67) and Corey Hodge (62). The top goal scorers were Barnett (36), Dan Healy (32), Pinheiro (31), Tim Mullis (31), George Barber (28) and Anthony Romero (28). The top goaltenders (by wins) were Rob Sudduth (17), Ben Dahms (14), Steven Boddy (13), Joel Heintz (13), Clay Taylor (12) and Wes Devoy (12).
- List of defunct AIHL teams
- List of AIHL records (individual)
- History of the American Inline Hockey League
- List of AIHL records (team)