|Federal Prospects Hockey League|
|2019-20 FPHL season|
|No. of teams||9|
|Country(ies)||United States Canada|
|Most recent champion(s)||Carolina Thunderbirgd (2019)|
|Official website||FHL website|
The Federal Prospects Hockey League (FPHL) formerly known as Federal Hockey League from its founding in 2009 until 2019 is a professional ice hockey league with teams in the Midwestern and Northeastern as well as one team in Ontario. The FHL began operations in November 2010. Don Kirnan is the league's Commissioner.
The league changed its' name sometime between the end end of the playoffs on April 28 and May 22, 2019, with the announcement of the Columbus expansion team, to the Federal Prospects Hockey League with a slightly modified logo, the Federal Hockey League name was still being used in press releases  despite the league website showing the new name and logo on the main page of the website. The rebranding was complete by the start of the 2019-20 season
- 1 History
- 2 Teams
- 3 All-time Chronological List of Teams
- 4 Commissioner's Cup winners
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
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.
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, respectively. 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 were gone 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 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.
Staged fight 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, which turned out to be correct. Neither Felten nor Puntureri played professional hockey in the 2014–15 season,, though Felten returned to the FHL to play for Dayton in the 2015–16 season.
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.
Also in April 2015, 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. The FHL would appeal the judgment, citing that their lawyer never properly filed their legal response, but lost the appeal leading to speculation that the current league would have to fold in order to avoid the payment.
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, due the eviction of the Danbury Whalers, the Federal Hockey League announced a new team based in Brewster, New York, to be called the Stateline Whalers, and would play at the Brewster Ice Arena under former the Danbury Whalers CEO and managing partner Herm Sorcher. The Stateline Whalers were announced as being owned by Barry Soskin, who also owns the Port Huron and Danville teams and formerly owned the Dayton Demonz. The Danbury Whalers were officially considered to be on hiatus for the season by the FHL, but gave up their naming and territorial rights to Brewster.
On June 22, 2015, the Watertown Wolves announced that they would suspend operations for the 2015–16 season due to their arena being renovated and an inability to find a temporary arena to use in Northern New York. The Wolves plan to resume operations for the 2016–17 season, after their arena renovations are completed.
On June 26, 2015, the owner of the Berkshire Battalion, Williams Dadds, announced that he intends to relocate the team from North Adams, Massachusetts, before the 2015–16 season after lease negotiations for the ice rink fell through. The city administration asked the team to only play a maximum of three Friday night games next season and repay all current debts prior to any lease being signed by the city but Dadds decided that the demands were unreasonable.
On June 27, it was reported that the FHL had approved of a new team Danbury, Connecticut, to replace the now departed Whalers. Local businessmen, Bruce Bennett and Edward Crowe were announced as the ownership group. Bennett would announce the new team as the Danbury Titans and had signed a six-year lease to play at the Danbury Ice Arena. On July 15, during the team's inaugural booster club meeting, Danbury Titans ownership confirmed that the league had re-organized and they will own the new Brewster team (formerly announced as the Stateline Whalers); Barry Soskin will continue to own the Danville Dashers and Port Huron Prowlers, but no longer be involved in Brewster. On July 18, Bennett announced the team would be called the Brewster Bulldogs and that neither of his teams would be connected to the former Whalers.
On July 15, the Battalion announced via their Facebook page that the team was moving to Dayton, Ohio, to replace the Dayton Demonz. On July 16, the Port Huron Prowlers announced that the protected player list from the Demonz had been transferred to their team and officially announcing the end of the Demonz. In the same press release, the Prowlers also confirmed that Dadds would be relocating the Battalion to Dayton and play in Hara Arena. On July 25, Dadds announced his Dayton team would be called the Dayton Demolition.
On December 23, the Dayton Demolition announced that it had postponed its December 26 game against Danbury due to "scheduling issues" with Hara Arena. On December 28, the Demolition then announced that its new home arena would be South Metro Sports, a recreation center with a seating capacity of approximately 200, in nearby Centerville, Ohio. After one home game at South Metro, the Demolition returned to Hara Arena. On January 17, the FHL removed Dadds as owner and on January 19, Joe Pace, Sr., the former coach of the Danville Dashers, was announced as the head of the new ownership group for the Demolition.
At the conclusion of the regular season, Danbury, Danville, Dayton, and Port Huron qualified for the playoffs. Port Huron would sweep the regular season champion Danbury Titans for the Commissioner's Cup.
The Watertown Wolves completed renovations to their ice rink and signed a new one-year lease agreement with the city of Watertown in order to return after one season off. In addition, the league expanded to St. Clair Shores, Michigan (Metro Detroit) with the new St. Clair Shores Fighting Saints, playing out of the St. Clair Shores Civic Arena.
On July 13, 2016, the "Dayton Pro Hockey" team, formerly known as the Dayton Demolition before removing references of the Demolition name in March 2016, announced it would be going dormant for the 2016–17 season. Owner Joe Pace, Sr. claimed that Hara Arena was unable to sign leases to tenants and he did not believe he could put together a team without a proper lead up time and secured arena. He also stated he would look to keep the team in Dayton in 2017 even if Hara Arena is still not available. Hara Arena would end up closing permanently in August 2016.
In June 2016, Brewster Bulldogs owner, Bruce Bennett mentioned to The News-Times that he would solely focus on his Danbury Titans team and would no longer be involved with the Bulldogs. Without finding new ownership, Bennett decided to suspend Bulldogs operations on July 14, 2016.
On September 14, the city of Cornwall, Ontario, approved a team called the Cornwall Nationals to begin play for the 2016–17 season out of the Ed Lumley Arena. On September 16, the FHL approved of the addition to the league for the upcoming season. The new team replaces the recently folded Cornwall River Kings and is led by Mitch Gagne and Rodney Rivette.
After making it the championship in the 2016–17 season, the Berlin River Drivers ceased operations due to the increased overhead costs of running the team and not selling enough season tickets for the following season.
On July 19, 2017 the St. Clair Shores Fighting Saints announced they were relocating to Kingsville, Ontario and would be renamed the North Shore Knights. The team is planning on playing 15 of 24 home games at the Kingsville Arena Complex and the remaining 9 games split between Gravenhurst, Ontario, South River, Ontario, and Temiscaming, Quebec. All four of which are also home to Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League teams.
On August 2, 2017 the owner of the Danbury Titans, Bruce Bennett announced that due to workers' compensation insurance cost he could not return to team to the ice for the 2017-18 season.
The North Shore Knights had released all of their players and staff following the end of the 2017-18 season. Franchises were mentioned as possibilities in Elmira, New York and the Cleveland suburb of Mentor, Ohio. Elmira was announced as an expansion team on July 18, 2018 to play out of the First Arena.
On April 22, 2019 the league announced the addition of a team based in Danbury, Connecticut for the 2019-20 season. A formal unveiling of name and colors will be held May 3rd. Sources indicated the team would take the name Danbury Hat Tricks. An expansion team for Columbus, Georgia is also expected to be announced as the city agreed to a five year lease with the group securing an expansion team for the arena.
Just prior to the announcement of the Columbus team, the oursportscentral.com and busleaguehockey.com listed the Delaware Thunder as a member of the league. The team will apparently be based out of Dover, Delaware in a yet to be announced arena (probably the 350 seat Centre Ice Rink on the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington, Delaware) but nothing was confirmed by the league's website as of the early morning of May 23rd but the team is shown with a logo on the mainpage of the league website in the standings section.
The league announced on November 20, 2019 that three neutral site games would be played at the Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington, Illinois which had been home to the Central Illinois Flying Aces of the United States Hockey League until the 2018-19 season when the team took a leave of absence for the 2019-20 season. The announcement also included that the league would be adding an expansion team to be based out of the same arena for the 2020-21 season. The Battle Creek Rumble Bees would quietly fold during the off season. The first word on the folding would be the league announcing results of a dispersal draft. On July 16, 2020 the league announced the addition of a new franchise to be based out of Fraser Hockeyland in Fraser, Michigan. On August 11th the team name was announced as the Motor City Rockers.
The league announced on May 12, 2021 that a new expansion team had been added. An expansion team named the Binghamton Black Bears will play in the recently vacated Visions Veterans Memorial Arena (the former home to the AHL team the Binghamton Devils).
All-time Chronological List of Teams
Commissioner's Cup winners
|2011||Akwesasne Warriors||New York Aviators||3–1|
|2012||New Jersey Outlaws||Danbury Whalers||3–0|
|2013||Danbury Whalers||Dayton Demonz||3–0|
|2014||Dayton Demonz||Danbury Whalers||3–2|
|2015||Watertown Wolves||Danville Dashers||3–2|
|2016||Port Huron Prowlers||Danbury Titans||3–0|
|2017||Danville Dashers||Berlin River Drivers||3–2|
|2018||Port Huron Prowlers||Watertown Wolves||3-1|
|2019||Carolina Thunderbirds||Elmira Enforcers||3-1|
Note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic only four teams played for the 2020-21 season. The league said any playoff would not be for the Commisioner's Cup. The Columbus River Dragons won a series against the Elmira Enforcers for the Ignite Cup 3 games to none.
- FHL Fact Sheet. Federal Hockey League. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
- FHL Frequently Asked Questions. Federal Hockey League. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
- Lindsay, Joy. "Barons Leave Broome County", December 17, 2010. Retrieved on October 14, 2011. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011.
- Cape Cod has a hockey team!. Cape Cod Today (January 1, 2011). Archived from the original on April 7, 2012. Retrieved on October 14, 2011.
- Pitarresi, John. "Frenzy season ends; team might leave Rome", February 9, 2010. Retrieved on October 14, 2011. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011.
- FHL History. FHL. Retrieved on February 15, 2015.
- Dayton Expansion Draft
- Outlaws ride into Williamsport PA
- Professional hockey coming to Williamsport's Bowman Field
- Top 25 All-Time Scorers, Federal Hockey League (26 May 2015).
- Jesse Felten. Elite Prospects.
- 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).
- Hockey league loses court appeal in player blindness case. The Sports Network (July 10, 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 on 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 on June 23, 2015.
- Wolves Already Planning For 2016-17. FHL (June 24, 2015).
- Berkshire Battalion owner: Hockey team will leave North Adams. The Berkshire Eagle (June 26, 2015).
- FHL approves new Danbury franchise. News Times (June 27, 2015).
- 'Danbury Titans' newest team to play in the FHL. WDAQ (June 27, 2015).
- Prowlers Release 2015-16 Protected List. Port Huron Prowlers (July 16, 2015). Archived from the original on 2015-07-21.
- The Debut of the Demolition. Lee W. Mowen (July 25, 2015).
- SPORTS DAILY: Demolition just what Centerville needs?. myDayton Daily News (December 29, 2015). Retrieved on December 30, 2015.
- FHL Terminates Dayton Membership, Team to Continue Under New Ownership. FHL (January 17, 2016).
- Dayton Announces New Ownership Group. FHL (January 27, 2016).
- Wolves, city ink new contract for Watertown arena. Watertown Daily Times (May 17, 2016).
- Pro Hockey coming to St. Clair Shores’ Civic Arena. scsfightingsaints.com. St. Clair Shores Fighting Saints (May 10, 2016). Retrieved on May 18, 2016.
- Brudenell, Mike (May 18, 2016). New St. Clair Shores hockey team named ... Fighting Saints. Detroit Free Press. Retrieved on May 18, 2016.
- Dayton Pro Hockey goes Dormant for 2016-17 season, planning return for 2017-18. FHL (July 13, 2016).
- Danbury Titans renew lease with Danbury Ice Arena. The News-Times (June 21, 2016).
- Brewster Bulldogs Pro Hockey Suspends 2016-17 Season. OurSports Central (July 14, 2016).
- Cornwall city hall inks deal with FHL Nationals. Standard-Freeholder (September 14, 2016).
- FHL Formally Approves Expansion to Cornwall, Ontario for 2016-17. OurSports Central (September 16, 2016).
- FHL Formally Approves Expansion to Winston-Salem, NC. OurSports Central (August 19, 2016).
- RIVER DRIVERS SUSPEND OPERATIONS. FHL (May 18, 2017).
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