BeNe League (ice hockey)

The BeNe League (Dutch: Beneliga) is the highest-level professional ice hockey league in Belgium and the Netherlands from 2015 to 2022. The league was founded in 2015, following a merger between the Belgian Hockey League and the Dutch Eredivisie and thus became the top tier of the sport in both nations. In terms of league structure, the BeNe League is made up of 11 teams, 6 from the Netherlands and a further 5 from Belgium, and they all play in a single group. The league featured a mix of Belgian, Dutch, European and overseas players.

BeNe League
SportIce hockey
Founded2015; 8 years ago (2015)
FounderRoyal Belgian Ice Hockey Federation &
Netherlands Ice Hockey Association
PresidentDanny Micola van Furstenrecht[1]
No. of teams11
Most recent
HYC Herentals (2nd)
Most titlesHYC Herentals (2)

Overview edit

The BeNe League is made up of 11 teams, 6 based in the Netherlands and 5 based in Belgium. In the first season, the league comprised 16 teams (10 from the Netherlands and 6 from Belgium). These 16 teams were split into two groups, each containing 5 Dutch teams and 3 Belgian teams. Each team played a total of 22 games over the course of the regular season, they played each team in their division twice, as well as once against every team in the other division. Points are awarded in the following fashion, 3 points for a win, 2 for a win in overtime and 1 for an overtime loss.

At the end of the regular season, the top 4 teams from each division qualified for the playoffs. The playoff quarterfinals were played over two legs, whilst the semi-finals and final were both played as a best of three series. The winner of the playoffs was then crowned the league victor.[2] On top of this, the league also crowns National Champions from each country. The team that advances the furthest through the playoffs from each country is subsequently crowned as National Champion.

One of the Netherlands most successful ice hockey teams, the Tilburg Trappers, announced that they would not be a part of the BeNe League, and would instead join the Oberliga, the 3rd tier of ice hockey in Germany. They do however, operate a developmental team in the BeNe League in the form of Tilburg Trappers II.[3]

History edit

Following the 2009 season of the Belgian Hockey League, HYC Herentals and White Caps Turnhout decided to the join the Eredivisie, whilst the remaining 3 teams dropped down a division and played instead in the Belgian National League. This resulted in the North Sea Cup being played in place of both the Belgian Hockey League and the Eredivisie. Following the culmination of the 2011–12 season, in which White Caps Turnhout dropped out midway through the season,[4] followed by the Leuven Chiefs also stating they would be leaving the competition, it was announced that the Eredivisie would once again take place, and that HYC Herentals would participate. A reformed Belgian Hockey League, featuring both Leuven Chiefs, White Caps Turnhout, and former Belgian National League teams would also take place.

The Geleen Eaters released a statement via their website stating they were unsure if they would be able to compete in the 2014/15 Eredivisie due to lack of funding, which is an issue that also occurred the previous year. On August 26, 2014, Geleen stated that in order to participate in the upcoming season they would have to raise somewhere in the region of €60,000.[5]

This was soon followed by an announcement that the Dordrecht Lions would be dropping down to the Eerst Divisie, and it was subsequently reported in September 2014 that the Eredivisie was in a state of Crisis due to the fact that the league was reduced to five participants. Furthermore, one of those five teams, Eindhoven Kemphanen, declared that they had no interest playing in a five team league, which potentially reduced the Eredivisie down to four teams for the 2014/15 season.[6]

Eindhoven Kemphanen subsequently agreed to play in a 5 team league, which also featured Geleen Eaters, HYC Herentals, Heerenveen Flyers and Tilburg Trappers,[7] and as a result the Eredivisie went ahead.

Following the difficulties both leagues had suffered in the recent years, the hockey federations of both nations worked in partnership, and on 12 June 2015, it was announced that the Belgian Hockey League and the Eredivisie would merge in to the BeNe League.[8]

On 13 March 2016, it was announced that GIJS Groningen would be joining the BeNe League from the Eerst Divisie bringing the number of teams up to 17.[9] It was subsequently announced on 16 June 2016 that the Dordrecht Lions would not be playing in the BeNe League for the upcoming season, instead dropping down a division to the Eerst Divisie.[10] This means that the 2016–17 edition of the BeNe League is projected to stay at 16 teams.

Season format edit

In the main round, all 13 teams play a double round competition in the regular season. With this, each team will play 24 games.

The top eight participants from the main round qualify for the play-offs. Playoff quarterfinals and semi-finals will be played as best of three series whilst the final will be played as a best of five series with the winner being crowned as BeNe League Champion.

Teams edit

The following teams will participate in the 2019/2020 BeNe League.[11]

Current Teams
Team City Arena Capacity Founded
Antwerp Phantoms   Deurne IJsbaan Ruggerveld 500 1972
IHC Leuven   Leuven IJsbaan Leuven 800 1993
UNIS Flyers   Heerenveen Thialf 3,500 1967
Hijs Hokij   The Hague De Uithof 2,610 1933
Herentals HYC   Herentals BLOSO IJsbaan 1,200 1971
Bulldogs Liège   Liège Patinoire de Liège 1,250 1997
Laco Eaters   Geleen Glanerbrook IJshal 1,200 1968
Mechelen Golden Sharks   Mechelen Ice Skating Center Mechelen 1,000 2016
Nijmegen Devils   Nijmegen Triavium 1,450 2007
Tilburg Trappers Jeugd   Tilburg Stappegoor IJssportcentrum 2,500 2009
Hotwings Panthers   Zoetermeer Silverdome 3,500 2010

Former Teams edit

Former Teams
Team City Arena Capacity Founded Joined BeNe Left BeNe
Amsterdam Tigers   Amsterdam Jaap Edenhal 1,300 1963 2015–16 2019–20
Dordrecht Lions   Dordrecht Sportboulevard Dordrecht 1,500 1977 2015–16 2016–17
Eindhoven Kemphanen   Eindhoven IJssportcentrum Eindhoven 1,700 1981 2015–16 2017–18
GIJS Groningen   Groningen Sportcentrum Kardinge 800 1969 2016–17 2017–18
IJCU Dragons Utrecht   Utrecht De Vechtsebanen 4,000 2008 2015–16 Before 2015–161
Olympia Heist op den Berg   Heist-op-den-Berg Die Swaene N/A 1959 2015–16 2016–17
Red Eagles 's-Hertogenbosch   's-Hertogenbosch Sportiom 's-Hertogenbosch 7,220 1965 2015–16 2017–18
Turnhout Tigers   Turnhout Kempisch IJsstadion 1,200 1981 2015–16 2016–17
  • 1 Utrecht withdrew their application in June 2015.

Players edit

The BeNe League relies heavily on Belgian and Dutch native players, and as a result the majority of players on the Belgian and Dutch national teams ply their trade in the BeNe League.

Overseas players (termed imports) are allowed in the league however, with each team being able to sign two imports.[12] An import is defined as any player who is not eligible to play for either the Belgian or Dutch national teams.

Champions edit

Season BeNe League Champion Belgian Champion Dutch Champion
2015–16   REPLAY HYC Herentals REPLAY HYC Herentals UNIS Flyers Heerenveen
2016–17   UNIS Flyers Heerenveen REPLAY HYC Herentals UNIS Flyers Heerenveen
2017–18   Hijs Hokij Den Haag REPLAY HYC Herentals UNIS Flyers Heerenveen
2018–19   REPLAY HYC Herentals REPLAY HYC Herentals Nijmegen Devils

References edit

  1. ^ "BeNe League" (in Dutch). Retrieved February 4, 2021.
  2. ^ "RBIHF BeNeLeague staat oppunt" (in Dutch). 17 May 2015. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  3. ^ "Dutch champion in Germany". 12 June 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  4. ^ "Update: Turnhout vertrekt uit North Sea Cup" (in Dutch). 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 2016-08-09. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "Situatie weer kritiek in Geleen" (in Dutch). 26 August 2014. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  6. ^ "Crisis rond Eredivisie verdiept zich" (in Dutch). 5 September 2014. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  7. ^ "Eredivisie begint met vijf teams" (in Dutch). 12 September 2014. Archived from the original on 9 August 2016. Retrieved June 23, 2016.
  8. ^ "Dutch champion in Germany". 12 June 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  9. ^ "GIJS Groningen speelt volgend jaar sowieso BeNe league" (in Dutch). 13 March 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  10. ^ "ProClass Lions komend seizoen eerste divisie" (in Dutch). 16 June 2016. Retrieved June 19, 2016.
  11. ^ "BeNe League :: Clubs" (in Dutch). Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  12. ^ "BeNe League 2015-2016" (in Dutch). 20 May 2015. Retrieved June 18, 2016.

External links edit