The North Sea Cup is the only professional ice hockey league in the Netherlands and Belgium and the highest level of competition organized by the Nederlandse IJshockey Bond (NIJB; English: "Dutch Ice Hockey Federation") and sanctioned by the Royal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation. Operating as the Dutch "Eredivisie" (English: "Premier Division"; literally Honours Division) from 1946, the league renamed itself as the "North Sea Cup" and became international in 2011 when two Belgian teams, HYC Herentals and White Caps Turnhout, joined the league.
List of teams for 2011-12 season.
|Eindhoven Kemphanen||Eindhoven||IJssportcentrum Eindhoven (cap. 1,700)|
|HYS The Hague||The Hague||de Uithof (cap. 2,610)|
|Geleen Eaters||Sittard-Geleen||Glanerbrook (cap. 1,200)|
|Heerenveen Flyers||Heerenveen||Thialf (cap. 3,500)|
|Tilburg Trappers||Tilburg||Stappegoor (cap. 2,500)|
|HYC Herentals||Herentals||Bloso Ijsbaan (cap. 1,200)|
|White Caps Turnhout||Turnhout||Kempisch Ijsstadion (cap. 1,200)|
|Amsterdam Capitals||Amsterdam||Jaap Eden Hal (cap. 1,300)|
|Leuven Chiefs||Leuven||Ijs Baan Leuven|
The Eredivisie was formed after World War II, with teams in Amsterdam, The Hague and Tilburg. It suspended operations from 1950 to 1964, but has organized a season of competition annually ever since. Over the years the number of teams competing has fluctuated between 3 and 10 (currently 9), and the number of games played in the regular season between 4 and 36 (currently 28).
Efforts to expand the Eredivisie from 2008 were frustrated by the global recession. For the 2008-2009 season, the Utrecht Dragons and Eindhoven Kemphanen joined the league. In 2009-2010, Utrecht returned to the Eerste Divisie. Prior to the 2010-2011 season, Amstel Tijgers, one of the oldest teams in the league, dropped out, as did Groningen Grizzlies after three seasons, due to poor results on the ice and low revenues. In 2010 the Zoetermeer Panthers were set to join the Eredivisie; it competed in, and won, the National Cup but dropped out of the Eredivisie due to financial problems.
Two former Belgian Elite Series teams, White Caps Turnhout and HYC Herentals, joined the league for 2010–2011, which prompted the name change from the all Dutch "Eredivisie" to the more international name "North Sea Cup". For the second season of the North Sea Cup (2011–2012), one new Dutch team (Amsterdam Capitals) and one new Belgian team (Leuven Chiefs) will take part in the league. In August 2011, the Nijmegen Devils announced that they would not be participating in the North Sea Cup for the 2011-12 season and will be back for the 2012 season.
In the early years of the Eredivisie, the winner of the regular season was crowned the Dutch National Champion, but for most of its history the regular season determined playoff seeding, and a playoffs were then held to determine the National Champion. Since 2010-2011, with the addition of Belgian teams, the regular season has determined the North Sea Cup winners. At the end of the regular season, the Dutch and Belgian teams play in separate Dutch and Belgian playoffs for their respective national championships. The Belgian and Dutch teams also play in separate, pre-season national cup tournaments (the Dutch Cup and Belgian Cup).
Other Dutch and Belgian Leagues Edit
Below the North Sea Cup in the Netherlands is the Eerste Divisie (First Division), an amateur league. As the North Sea Cup is professional and the Eerste Divisie is amateur, there is no automatic relegation or promotion between the two leagues, but teams have sometimes moved from one division to the other for financial reasons. Some cities (such as Tilburg, The Hague and Amsterdam) have a professional team in the North Sea Cup and an amateur team in the Eerste Divisie.
In Belgium, below the North Sea Cup is the Belgian National League, made of amateur teams. There is no automatic relegation or promotion. Leuven will become the first team to move from the Belgian National League to the North Sea Cup in 2011-2012.
IIHF Continental CupEdit
The respective Belgian and Dutch national champions each year qualify for the Continental Cup.
|White Caps Turnhout||Belgium||2||0||21||3||6|
- HC Metulla withdrew from tournament in July, 2011
|HYS The Hague||Netherlands||2||1||17||7||6|
|White Caps Turnhout||Belgium||2||1||16||15||6|
- DAB-Docler won the three way Tie-breaker with HYS The Hague and White Caps Turnhout and will advance to play in Group D in the Third Round.
(note: from 1946-2010: Dutch National Champion; from 2010-2011 on, North Sea Cup winner)