A New Year, a New League: Introducing the CEHL

By Jessica Haskin

There is a new set of faces in the mid-west in the form of the players and personnel of the Continental Elite Hockey League, otherwise known as the CEHL.

The CEHL is based out of Fraser, MI, about a six-mile drive from the city limits of Detroit. The teams are located in the Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana areas. The league made its debut this year with six teams, the Tri-City Hurricanes, Toledo Junior Storm, Detroit Lightning, Traverse City Enforcers, Jackson Prowlers and Downriver Bombers. The Downriver Bombers changed their names to the Lumberjacks and the Tri-City Hurricanes changed ownership and became the Bay County Blizzard.

Kevin Shanahan, the league commissioner, has a strong hockey background. Shanahan played hockey through juniors and has spent the last 15 years coaching and managing youth hockey teams.

Barry Soskin, the league president and owner of the Traverse City Enforcers, is the former owner of the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL, and the Pelham Prowlers of the SEHL. Soskin also currently owns a minor league baseball team.

The mission and objective of this league you ask?

Let me share with you some quotes from the CEHL’s mission statement.

“The CEHL’s objective is to provide an excellent opportunity for our players to play hockey while providing a thriving and profitable business opportunity for our owners. “

“The CEHL will be a developmental ground for the 4 Division I NCAA collegiate leagues, as well as the National Hockey League and the numerous minor professional leagues. The CEHL will develop a full scale college profile program whereby all players in the league who are academically eligible to attend a Division I school will be profiled, and the information will be distributed to the 4 Division I leagues.”

“The strategic plan for the league is to have two divisions — one in the mid-west and the other in the south. In doing so, the league’s footprint will cover an area that will include portions of 12 states and the markets of 10 NHL clubs. The second phase of the strategic plan is for the league to reach a status comparable to Major A hockey in Canada.”

While the league is still in the very beginning of its first phase it has the promise and potential to develop from a good league to a great league. While some of the wrinkles are still being ironed out the teams always seem to bring their game to the ice. The games have a little of everything a hockey fan could desire, goals, pretty passes, heavy hits, and plenty of fights.

The tickets are reasonably priced for the fans to come and watch the games. Adult tickets are $5 to $7, Students are $4 or $5, and children under 12 range from free to $5. These prices represent three teams in the league as I wasn’t able to contact the remaining three teams at this time. The league has a lot of potential but it needs the support of its fans to become great. The fans are a major part of the continuation of the league, not just the CEHL but every team and league in every sport.

As the mission statement states “some very exciting times are ahead in this adventure and you are being invited to join in. With the possibility of providing some EXTREME HOCKEY we hope to encourage the best players in North America and Europe to play in the most exciting new hockey market for the purpose of developing their careers and providing excellent family entertainment throughout the season.”