New England Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league based in Boston, Massachusetts, Republic of New England, designed to bring the RNE and the surrounding "new nations" (Republic of Quebec and Eastern Republic of Acadia) into ice hockey prominence. The rival NHL has two teams in the Quebec-New England-Acadia region (the Boston Bruins in Boston, Mass., RNE, and Montreal Canadiens in Montreal, Quebec). The NEHL was founded in 1986 and began play in 1987.

Hockey has always been popular in the maritime provinces, Quebec and New England, and the popularity exploded after the secession of all three regions. There are more NEHL teams in Maine than any other area in the three nations.

The NEHL focuses more on the smaller communities of the RNE, ROQ and ERA, even though large areas like Boston, Quebec City, Montreal and St. John's are represented.

Champions of the NEHL are awarded the York Cup (Coupe de York), named after Francis York, the founder of the league. The Boston Braves and Portland Firebirds are split, each winning the NEHL title five times.

There are 32 teams in the NEHL, and the league has expanded every five years, starting in 1990. The original teams are the Portland Firebirds, Hartford Whalers (who moved to the NEHL from the NHL), Montreal Wanderers, Boston Braves, Cambridge Crimson (the only Original Team never to make the York Cup Finals), Bridgeport Panthers, Bangor Kings and Springfield Falcons.

The NEHL uses a different playoff format than other major North American sports leagues, with no division of teams at all. The teams with the 16 best records in the league advance to the playoffs, and are matched with another team randomly (so the two best teams could meet in the first round).

List of teams in the NEHL:

Portland Firebirds (Portland, Maine, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Kittery Capitals (Kittery, Maine, RNE) 1995 - pres.

Bar Harbor Pirates (Bar Harbor, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.

Bath Battleships (Bath, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.

Manchester Giants (Manchester, New Hampshire, RNE)

Cape Cod Clippers (Cape Cod, Massachusetts, RNE) 1990 - pres.

Moncton Ravens (Moncton, New Brunswick, ERA) 2000 - pres.

Fredricton Loons (Fredricton, New Brunswick, ERA) 1995 - pres.

Saint John Demons (Saint John, New Brunswick, ERA) 2000 - pres.

Montreal Wanderers (Montreal, Quebec) 1987 - pres.

Lowell Patriots (Lowell, Massachusetts, RNE) 2000 - pres.

Quebec Nordiques (Quebec City, Quebec) 1987 - pres.

Concord Eagles (Concord, New Hampshire, RNE) 2005 - pres.

Fort Kent Chickadees (Fort Kent, Maine, RNE) 2005 - pres.

Bangor Kings (Bangor, Maine, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Worcester Blades (Worcester, Massachusetts, RNE) 1995 - pres.

Orono Black Bears (Orono, Maine, RNE) 2000 - pres.

Boston Braves (Boston, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Plymouth Explorers (Plymouth, Massachusetts, RNE) 1990 - pres.

Springfield Falcons (Springfield, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Hartford Whalers (Hartford, Connecticut, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Providence Islanders (Providence, Rhode Island, RNE) 1995 - pres.

Burlington Blue Jays (Burlington, Vermont, RNE) 1995 - pres.

Bridgeport Panthers (Bridgeport, Connecticut, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Halifax Sea Dogs (Halifax, Nova Scotia, ERA) 1990 - pres.

Labrador Lions (Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Labrador, ERA) 2005 - pres.

Newfoundland Hawks (St. John's, Newfoundland, ERA) 2005 - pres.

Corner Brook Cardinals (Corner Brook, Newfoundland, ERA) 2000 - pres.

Lewiston Barons (Lewiston, Maine, RNE) 1990 - pres.

Cambridge Crimson (Cambridge, Massachusetts, RNE) 1987 - pres.

Troy Ironmen (Troy, West Vermont, RNE) 2005 - pres.

Sherbrooke Athlétique (Sherbrooke, Quebec) 1995 - pres.

Expansion History

Original 8

Bangor Kings

Boston Braves

Bridgeport Panthers

Cambridge Crimson

Hartford Whalers

Portland Firebirds

Montreal Wanderers

Quebec Nordiques

Springfield Falcons

Expansion 1990: Six Teams

Burlington Blue Jays

Cape Cod Clippers

Halifax Sea Dogs

Lewiston Barons

Plymouth Explorers

Portsmouth Angels (relocated to Fort Kent to become the Chickadees in 2005)

Expansion 1995: Six Teams

Chelsea Bulldogs (relocated to Corner Brook to become the Cardinals in 2000)

Fredriction Loons

Kittery Capitals

Providence Islanders

Sherbrooke Athletique

Worcester Blades

Expansion 2000: Four Teams

Lowell Patriots

Moncton Ravens

Orono Black Bears

Saint John Demons

Expansion 2005: Six Teams

Bar Harbor Pirates

Bath Battleships

Concord Eagles

Labrador Lions

Newfoundland Hawks

Troy Ironmen

Playoff format

The NEHL doesn't use a conventional North American playoff format. Rather than having two leagues or conferences and multiple divisions in each league, the NEHL gives the top 16 teams at the end of the regular season playoff spots, then divides them at random into eight-team brackets, with the two top teams being placed in separate brackets. The NEHL playoffs then follow the conventional playoff format, with a quarterfinals, semifinals and conference finals. The winner of the four quarterfinal match ups move onto the semifinals, who then move onto the conference finals before moving on to the York Cup finals.

List of former teams of the NEHL

Two teams have folded since the founding of the NEHL.

Chelsea Bulldogs (Chelsea, Massachusetts, RNE) 1995 - 1999 (relocated to Corner Brook to become the Cardinals)

Portsmouth Angels (Portsmouth, New Hampshire, RNE) 1990-2004 (relocated to Fort Kent to become the Chickadees)

List of York Cup Winners

Year Winning team Losing team Games
1987 Hartford Whalers Boston Braves 4-1
1988 Hartford Whalers Portland Firebirds 4-2
1989 Boston Braves Hartford Whalers 4-3
1990 Montreal Wanderers Boston Braves 4-1
1991 Boston Braves Montreal Wanderers 4-0
1992 Portland Firebirds Montreal Wanderers 4-3
1993 Hartford Whalers Boston Braves 4-2
1994 Portland Firebirds Hartford Whalers 4-2
1995 Boston Braves Portland Firebirds 4-3
1996 Montreal Wanderers Boston Braves 4-2
1997 Quebec Nordiques Burlington Blue Jays 4-0
1998 Hartford Whalers Boston Braves 4-2
1999 Boston Braves Montreal Wanderers 4-0
2000 Moncton Ravens Boston Braves 4-3
2001 Bangor Kings Moncton Ravens 4-0
2002 Springfield Falcons Lowell Patriots 4-2
2003 Halifax Sea Dogs Plymouth Explorers 4-0
2004 Portland Firebirds Frediricton Loons 4-0
2005 Kittery Capitals Hartford Whalers 4-1
2006 Corner Brook Cardinals Sherbrooke Athletique 4-3
2007 Fort Kent Chickadees Corner Brook Cardinals 4-3
2008 Labrador Lions Kittery Capitals 4-3
2009 Portland Friebirds Cape Cod Clippers 4-0
2010 Portland Firebirds Corner Brook Cardinals 4-0
2011 Boston Braves Quebec Nordiques 4-0
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