ZURICH – The Board of the Champions Hockey League has decided to expand the number of teams for the inaugural 2014-2015 season from 40 to 44. Consequently, there will be eleven groups (to earlier ten) where now the eleven group winners and the five best runners-up will qualify for the 16-team 1/8-finals. The four new clubs are:Briancon Diables Rouge (FRA)
SønderjyskE Vojens (DEN)
Nottingham Panthers (GBR)
Vålerenga Oslo (NOR)
Czech Extraliga champion PSG Zlin completed the list B-License teams for 2014-2015. Zlin won its second national championship in the club’s history last Friday by defeating Kometa Brno in a five-game final series.
The breakdown of teams per license category is as follows:
A-License (Founding Clubs) – 26
B-License – 12 (see below for explanation and list of B-License clubs)
C-License (Wild Cards) – 6
“It makes me very proud to make this announcement about adding four teams,” said CHL Chairman of the Board Anders Ternbom.
“Already during our founding process last summer we made it very clear that although this competition would have six founding leagues, our vision is to involve many countries and to include champions from what we identified as Challenge Leagues. When we realized that we received the maximum twelve B-license clubs, it consequently meant that we only had two Wild Card spots open for these leagues, said Ternbom.
“As these Wild Cards were quickly distributed to HC Kosice and Stavanger Oilers, we received many calls for participation from the top leagues of France, Denmark and Great Britain. After internal discussions among the board and with our marketing partner Infront, we decided to add the four teams,” said Ternbom. “In our first season we can proudly count in clubs from twelve countries.”
“Last season we had six games in the Continental Cup, winning four and losing two, each by a single goal,” said Gary Moran, General Manager of the Nottingham Panthers. “We are thrilled to be able to move on a level with this invitation to join the Champions Hockey League. Our inclusion is great for the sport in the UK, it will be exciting for our fans and it is a great honor for our club to once again fly the flag for our league,” said Moran, whose Nottingham Panthers who have won eight of the last twelve major trophies in the UK Elite Ice Hockey League over the past four seasons.
“We are very proud of the invitation from the Champions Hockey League,” said Søren Stockfisch, manager of SønderjyskE Vojens. “It is Danish hockey history that a team from our league will participate in a tournament at the highest European level, and we will strive to show Danish hockey at its best against Europe's leading teams.
“Vålerenga are very happy to be invited to the new Champions Hockey League,” said Jan Tore Kjaer, Club Director of the Oslo club. “We are looking forward to playing against the best teams in Europe again. This will be a good test of our club’s abilities and the quality of our league.”
Apart from the 26 Founding (A-License) Clubs, eleven B-License clubs from the six Founding Leagues have qualified to the 2014-2015 Champions Hockey League. To qualify for B-License, the club has to reach at least the semi-final in its national league playoffs.
Positions which earn qualification to the Champions Hockey League are: 1. National Champion. 2. Regular Season Winner. 3. Runner-up, Regular Season. 4. Playoff Finalist. 5. Playoff Semifinalist.
This is the complete list of the 12 B-License clubs for 2014-2015:Austria
(EBEL): Südtirol Bolzano (Champion/League Runner-up), Villach SV (Semifinalist)Czech Republic
(Extraliga): PSG Zlin (Champion), Ocelari Trinec (Runner-up)
Finland (Liiga): Lukko Rauma, SaiPa Lappeenranta (both Semifinalists)Germany
(DEL): Hamburg Freezers (Regular Season Winner), Kölner Haie (Finalist) Switzerland
(NLA): Genève-Servette, Kloten Flyers (both Semifinalists)Sweden
(SHL): Skellefteå AIK (Champion, Regular Season Winner), Växjö Lakers (Semifinalist)
The Champions Hockey League, which will commence its inaugural season on 21 August 2014 and will play a 161-game schedule culminating with the final game on 3 February 2015, will conduct its draw for the Group Stage on 21 May in Minsk, Belarus, as part of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The draw will be open for Minsk-2014 accredited media and will be video streamed live on www.championshockeyleague.net
The seeding for the draw will be announced on 13 May, with 100 Days Left to CHL puck-drop.With files from Champions Hockey League