This is the 2016-17 Eastern Hockey League season. This is the league's fourth season after the league's formation by the merger of the Atlantic Junior Hockey League with six members of the Eastern Junior Hockey League.
Reorganization of Elite Division for 2016-17Edit
The league announced on March 1, 2016 that the Elite Division was being reorganized as the 19U Elite Division. The Elite Division will focus upon development of players for higher levels of play. As part of this reorganization the league is adding seven teams from the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League (New Jersey Rockets, New York Applecore, Brewster Bulldogs, Connecticut Nighthawks (who would later withdraw prior to the season), Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and Philadelphia Revolution, and the Lehigh Valley Jr. Rebels. As a result of this reorganization the membership of the MJHL was decimated. The MJHL was absorbed by the North American Hockey League and the league was reorganized as the North American 3 Atlantic Hockey League in a similar manner to what the former Northern States Junior Hockey League had done when they became the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League prior to joining the North American 3 Hockey League's Eastern Division for the 2016-17 season.
Other League ChangesEdit
- On June 16th, 2016 the New England Wolves announced they had moved their higher level team back to Laconia, New Hampshire after having played out of Waterville Valley, New Hampshire for the past five seasons. The elite division team was already based out of Waterville Valley.
- The New York Applecore relocated operations to Brewster Ice Arena in Brewster, New York but did not change the team name.
- The New York Bobcats were removed from the league listing in mid-July of 2016. The team's head coach was named the coach of the New Jersey Junior Titans of the North American Hockey League and the team was unable to name a new head coach in a reasonable amount of time to prepare for the season and the team had attempted to relocate to the Jr. Titans arena in Middletown, New Jersey but was unable to work out a workable arrangement. The team announced that they were sitting out the 2016-17 season and would be planning on returning for the 2017-18 season.
- The Connecticut Nighthawks elite team withdrew on September 2, 2016 apparently due to a lack of players.
- On December 22, 2016 the USPHL announced that the Boston Bandits, Connecticut Nighthawks, Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs, New Jersey Rockets, and Northern Cyclones organizations are leaving the Eastern Hockey League and joining the United States Premier Hockey League for the 2017-18 season. This moved would bring six premier level and five elite junior teams. The 16U, 18U and youth porgrams of these organizations would also be involved in this move. The Boston Bandits, New Jersey Rockets, and Northern Cyclones would be also be part of the National Collegiate Development Conference when it commences play for the 2017-18 season.
- USA Hockey approved the addition of the New Hampshire Avalanche as an expansion franchise for the 2017-18 season. The organization has a history of running teams from mite to U-18. The team is apparently a replacement for the New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs who announced they were joining the USPHL for the 2017-18 season. The team will be based out of the Ice Den Arena in Hooksett, NH.
To be added upon completion of the regular season
Premier League FormatEdit
The top eight teams in each conference qualify with the division winners seeded 1 and 2 based on points and tie breakers with the balance of the teams being seeded 3 through 8 based on league operating rules. The traditional 1 v. 8, 2 v. 7 etc. format is used in the best of three first round. The eight first round winners are all re-seeded 1 though 8 based on league operating rules for the best of three second round. The four second round winners are re-seeded for the best of three semifinal round base on league operating rules. The semifinal winners meet in the best of five league final seeding will be base on head to head if they teams are from different conferences or league operating rules if they are from the same conference. The higher seeded team will have the choice of a 2-2-1 or 2-3 format with the higher seed choosing which games it wants at home if they choose the 2-3 format.
19U Elite Playoffs FormatEdit
The top six teams in each conference qualify for the playoffs. The top two in each conference earn a first round bye. The 3 seed host the 6 seed and the 4 seed host the 5 seed in a single elimination game.
The second round consist of each conference having a four team round robin with each round robin held at a separate location. The winning team from each pool will advance to the championship series which will be a two day two game with a 20 minute mini game if needed series for the league championship.