The league that put a new spin on fantasy hockey is doing it again!
As the world's only crowd-sourced fantasy league enters its fifth season, the IceHL will introduce special events during the regular season — including three "outdoor" games and much more. That means that the jersey and logo contests once reserved for the summer months will continue into the regular season.
Let's take a look at all the cool stuff coming to the IceHL in 2014-15!
First, let's review the new divisional alignment for this season.
Our 40 teams are now split into 10 divisions of four. This new format will intensify rivalries as teams now face their divisional opponents at least three times a year. While the divisions continue to be based on geographical regions, they are no longer named for boring compass directions, allowing for more creative designations.
Due to restrictions on the number of teams allowed in an ESPN fantasy league, the IceHL's three conferences will be separated into their own fantasy leagues. So while all 40 teams co-exist in the IceHL universe, there will be no cross-conference play this season.
But you're not here for division names and whatnot. You want to know about this season's special events. Here's a week-by-week summary. Scroll past for details on each event.
WEEK 2 · The IceHL Celebrates 100 Weeks!
When we began the first IceHL fantasy season, I can't say I ever imagined reaching this milestone — the 100th week of IceHL hockey! But that's exactly what's happening.
If marketing has taught us anything, it's that no big sports milestone is complete without a logo. So get ready for the unveiling of the special IceHL100 logo during the first week of the season!
I would've held a contest to let you guys design one, but we sort of ran out of time with the creation of the IceHL World this summer. I hope you'll be satisfied with what I've created.
WEEK 4 · 17 Teams, 7 GMs Celebrate 100 Games!
The IceHL100 logo will also be used by teams across the league who as each plays its 100th franchise game. An astounding 17 teams will mark that milestone in Week 4. And seven of our GMs will also reach 100 games. That's a lot of fantasy hockey, folks!
Alaska, Boston, Calgary, California, Chicago, Edmonton, Hamilton, Houston, Montreal, Philadelphia (formerly Regina), Quebec, Salt Lake City, Saskatchewan, Seattle, St. Louis, Washington, and Winnipeg will all have special IceHL100 patches for their jerseys that week.
Meanwhile, these GMs will be offered special IceHL100 logos to use on their Twitter profiles:
- Simon Cable, Sentinels
- Kyle Grossman, Scorpions
- Ryan Laden, Archers
- James Leggett, Hellcats
- Ed Power, Kodiaks
- Daniel Raposo, Winterhawks/Steelcats
- Jon Wold, Wave
Two more GMs will hit 100 games later in the season. I'm thrilled to see so many of these guys have stuck with the league since Day 1.
WEEK 5 · 3 Teams Celebrate 100 Games!
Due to bye weeks during one of our past seasons, a few teams will mark their IceHL100 milestone a week later. Milwaukee, Portland and Vancouver will get their patches in Week 5.
WEEK 6 · ABC Cup benefiting Ronald McDonald House · Philadelphia
This is by far my favorite event of the season, so it only makes sense we lead off with it.
The IceHL's first-ever special event game will take place in Philadelphia as a one-of-a-kind charity event. I doubt any fantasy hockey league has done anything quite like it.
The ABC Cup name has a dual meaning. It is a reference both to the children helped every year by Ronald McDonald House Charities as well as the teams participating in the game — the Philadelphia Aces and Baltimore Blue Crabs. (Get it? Aces and Blue Crabs.)
This fall marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia in 1974, so it's fitting for the Aces to honor them in this way. Throughout the week, the IceHL will encourage fans and teams to make a small donation to this or any other charity of their choice. I hope this will be a tradition we can continue in the seasons to come.
The Aces will wear special fan-designed jerseys for the ABC Cup game and both teams will have an ABC Cup patch for their uniforms. I'm sure our talented artists can come up with a tasteful Ronald McDonald-inspired sweater. After all, it's for a great cause!
(For the record, Ronald McDonald House has no involvement in this project whatsoever. But I'm sure they won't object to us invoking their name to get them a few extra donations.)
WEEK 10 · Evergreen Cup · Seattle
It's been going on unofficially for a few seasons, but now the Evergreen Cup goes legit! After years as division rivals, the Seattle Aviators and Vancouver Lumberjacks will be separated this season, so we're going to make sure their only regular season meeting is a memorable one!
Since both teams already wear green, there's no need to design special sweaters, but both teams will wear an Evergreen Cup patch for the week. Meanwhile, @theIceHL will spend the week live tweeting from landmarks in the host city of Seattle!
The Evergreen Cup will be hosted by Vancouver in 2015-16.
WEEK 13 · 2015 Ice Classic Series
The most exciting week on the IceHL calendar promises to be the 2015 Ice Classic Series! While the rest of the hockey world will be watching the NHL Winter Classic, we'll be holding three stadium games of our own!
Montreal, Portland and Stockholm will host games in the Ice Classic Series so that we'll have one in each conference. Here are the locations and opponents for each game:
vs. New York Guardians
vs. Winnipeg Winterhawks
vs. Moscow Cosmonauts
Each team will wear fan-designed "fauxback" jerseys. The IceHL is only six years old so they won't be real throwbacks, of course. But it'll be fun imagine what these teams might have worn if they had existed 50 or even 100 years ago. I expect some cool sweater designs!
We'll also design Ice Classic Series logos that will be used on the jerseys.
The Ice Classic Series will be back for another round in 2016!
WEEK 16 · 2 GMs Celebrate 100 Games!
Two more longtime GMs will mark their IceHL100 during Week 16. Curtis Lanton (Armada) and Steve Sonricker (Huskies) have both been with the league since the beginning, but employed AGMs to handle their AHL rosters during the NHL lockout season, hence the delay.
WEEK 18 · Pacific Cup · Sydney
The Gold Coast Rush will make the short jaunt south to Sydney where they will host the Osaka Samurai in the first annual Pacific Cup game! The idea is to showcase the league in non-IceHL cities around the Pacific rim.
The Rush will wear special jerseys for the game. The fan-designed sweaters will feature artwork inspired by Australian culture.
Among the cities hoping to host the Pacific Cup in 2016 are Kuala Lumpur, Beijing and Seoul.
WEEK 21 · Retro Week
Do you ever find yourself longing for IceHL jerseys of days gone by? Not to worry, Retro Week will wrap up our series of special events on the 2014-15 schedule.
In the IceHL East, the Montreal Olympiques will host the Hamilton Steelcats with both teams donning their original threads. And for this special week, the Detroit Chargers once again become the Motorheads as they host the Halifax Dragons, who go back to being the Atlanta Arsenal.
In the IceHL West, look for the Texas Outlaws to once again don their Dallas duds as they host the Gators. Meanwhile, the Saskatchewan Snipers resurrect their Saskatoon Sharpshooter sweaters against the Huskies. And in the IceHL World, the Quebec Armada will show off their original threads as they face the Rush.
WEEK 24/25 · IceHL Playoffs Begin
Since the IceHL World is a smaller conference and therefore requires a shorter playoff schedule, the East and West will start their playoff push a week earlier.
The top two teams from each division will advance to the divisional playoffs. This first round of playoffs will determine the division champions. In the World, the winners will advance to compete for the first IceHL World Championship.
In the East and West, the division champs will advance to the Semifinals. These winners will then compete for their championships in the final week of the season.
WEEK 26 · IceHL Championship Week
The final week of the IceHL's 2014-15 season will be special not just because of the three championship games we'll all be watching, but because eight more teams and four more GMs will celebrate their 100th games!
Baltimore, Detroit, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Tampa Bay, Boulder and New Orleans will don their IceHL100 patches as the season comes to a close. And if one of them could nab a championship, the storybook ending practically writes itself.
Here are the GMs who will reach 100 games during championship week:
- Brendan Anderson, Nighthawks
- Mike Kelly, Chargers
- Rich Lunghino, Guardians
- Rob Brown, Beasts
As IceHL commissioner, I cannot begin to describe how excited I am for the IceHL's fifth season — and I'm not even a GM anymore. But as you can see, I simply wouldn't have time for it given all of these special events. So much to do and so little time.
My hope is that these events will spur ideas for more events in the coming seasons and that there will come a year when we have something cool going on almost every week!
Tell us what you think of these events and feel free to suggest others for future seasons.