- Professional Inline Hockey Association
Infobox sports league
current_season= 2009 PIHA season
caption=The new PIHA logo designed by Top Flight Media.
website= [http://www.thepiha.com THEPIHA.com] The Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA) is a semi-professional
inline hockeyleague composed of 18 teams in the United States. It is considered to be one of the premier inline hockey leagues in the world. The Founders Cup is awarded annually to the league champion at the end of each season.
The league was formed in 2002 in Middletown,
Pennsylvania. It started with eight teams, and through a series of expansions, contractions and relocations, the league is now composed of 18 teams, all of which are based in the United States. After the creation of the American Inline Hockey Leaguein 2008, the league has survived with 16 returning franchises including the original two the Harrisburg Lunaticsand the Pennsylvania Typhoon(formerly the York Typhoon), and two expansion franchises.
In 2001, after the creation of a series of struggling
inline hockeyleagues -- Roller Hockey International, Pro Beach Hockey, and Major League Roller Hockey-- a longtime inline hockey rink owner, Charley Yoder, and his sons CJ and Jami, had an idea of a professional league for about three years. After RHI started for its second time; and its chances didn't look good, Charley Yoder though 'There's gotta be a way for it to work'. His sons, CJ and Jami, played in RHI, PBH and MLRH, and every league they played in had a list of things they did wrong so Charley and his sons put it down on paper. This led to the creation of the Professional Inline Hockey Association in 2002; the founding teams were the Cherry Hill Renegades, Delaware Blades(which became the Marple Grenadesin 2003), Harrisburg Lunatics, Line Lexington Law Dawz, Mount Laurel Generals, Pottstown Machine, Reading Nasty Boyz, and York Typhoon.
The first season of PIHA was a successful one. The York Typhoon won the first Founders Cup defeating the Delaware Blades. After the 2002, PIHA went through its first series of expansions and contractions. The Pottstown Machine, Line Lexington Law Dawgz, Mount Laurel Generals, and Cherry Hill Renegades all contracted after their first season, while the
Philadelphia Growl, Philadelphia Beastand West Chester Shockwave(who became the Dowingtown Rage) were the three expansion franchises bringing the league total to seven. The league's second series of expansion and reductions led to the Marple Gladiators and Philadelphia Beast contracting and expanding with the Bridgewater Extremes, Morristown Minutemen (later the New Jersey Minutemenand now the New Jersey Stampede), and South Jersey Scrappers, along with the first two franchises located outside of the Pennsylvania, New Jerseyand Delawaretri-state area; the Buffalo Wings and Frederick Vipers, both of which folded after competing in only seven games during the 2004 season bringing the league total back to eight by seasons end. For the 2005 season, the league reached its lowest number of franchises at six. The Bridgewater Extremes, South Jersey Scrappers and Reading Nasty Boyz all contracting. The Nasty Boyz retracting left the Harrisburg Lunatics and York Typhoon as the only original two franchises. PIHA expanded with the PA West Inferno (now the Scottsdale Inferno). The Downingtown Rage contracted after the 2005 season.
The PIHA further expanded out of the tri-state area with 19 new franchises in two years. The
Pittsburgh Phantoms(now the Pittsburgh Bandits), Richmond Rollin Robins, Aurora Crimson Catz(now the Fort Collins Catz), Colorado Springs Thunder, Littleton Fire, Pikes Peak Prowlers, and Westminster Blizzardentered in 2006; and a season later the Boston Roller Rats, Massachusetts Bombers, Connecticut Blaze, Hartford Fire Ants, New Jersey Grizzlies, Feasterville Fury, Marple Gladiators, Cincinnati Flying Monkeys, Midwest Tornados, River City Whalers, Southside Snipers, and St. Louis Pythonswere all added bringing the total to 25 teams. Expansion continued in 2008 with the introduction of 18 more teams and the reduction of the Pottstownorganization bringing the league total to 42 teams.
Each Professional Inline Hockey Association regulation game is an
inline hockeygame played between two teams and is 24 minutes long. The game is composed of two 12-minute halves with a two-minute intermission of between halves. At the end of the 24 minute regulation time, the team with the most goals wins the game. If a game is tied after regulation time, overtime ensues. Overtime is a four-minute, three-player on three-player sudden-death period, in which the first team to score a goal wins the game. If no team scores after one overtime, the second overtime period is a three-minute, two-player on two-player sudden-death period. If the game is still tied at the end of overtime, the game enters a shootout. One player for each team in turn take a penalty shot. The team with the most goals during the round shootout wins the game. If the game is still tied after the shootout round, the shootout continues, but becomes sudden death. Whichever team ultimately wins the shootout is awarded the goal and awarded two points. The losing team in overtime or shootout is awarded only one. Shootout goals and saves are not tracked in hockey statistics.
The Professional Inline Hockey Association originated in 2002 with eight teams, and through a sequence of team expansions, reductions and relocations currently consists of 18 teams, all of which are based in the United States. The
Pennsylvania Typhoon(formerly the York Typhoon) are the most successful franchise with three Founders Cup championships. The next most successful franchise was the Philadelphia Growlwith two Founders Cup championships, but they have left PIHA for the American Inline Hockey Leaguein 2008. The longest streak of winning the Founders Cup in consecutive years is three, held by the York Typhoon from 2002 to 2004; the Philadelphia Growl had a two-year championship streak.
The current league organization divides the teams into two conferences. Each conference has two divisions, and each division has four or five teams. The current organization has roots in the 2006 season where a league wide expansion and realignment added two divisions to bring the total number of divisions to four; the current team alignment began with the 2009 season when many teams left the league to join the AIHL.
The Professional Inline Hockey Association season is divided into a
regular seasonfrom the first Saturday in December through the end of April, when teams play each other in a predefined schedule, and a playoffs during the month of May, which is an elimination tournamentwhere two teams play against each other to win a series in order to advance to the next round. The final remaining team is crowned the Founders Cup champion.
In the regular season, each team plays 32 games; 16 games at home and 16 on the road. Points are awarded for each game, where two points are awarded for a win, one point for losing in overtime or a shootout, and zero points for a loss in regulation.
At the end of the regular season, the team that finishes with the most points in each division is crowned the division champion with the league overall leader awarded the Best Overall Record Trophy. The division champion along with the two or three other teams in each division with the next highest number of points, for a total of 4 teams in a division of 5 or 6 teams and 3 teams in a division of 4 or less teams, for a total of 15 teams in the Eastern Conference and a total of 13 teams in the Western Conference, qualify for the
playoffs. The division winner is seeded one and the next two or three teams with the best records in each division are seed two through three or four (depending on the size of the division). The Founders Cup Playoffs is an elimination tournament, where two teams battle to win a series in order to advance to the next round. The first round of the playoffs, or division semifinals, consists of either the first seed playing the four seed and the second seed playing the third seed, or the first seed receiving a bye and the second playing the third. In the second round, or division finals, either the winner of the 1/4 series plays the winner of the 2/3 series or the first seed plays the winner of the 2/3 series. In the third round, or conference semifinals, the PIHA re-seeds the teams, with the top remaining conference seed playing against the lowest remaining seed, and the other two remaining conference teams pairing off. In the third round, the conference finals, the two remaining teams in each conference play each other, with the conference champions proceeding to the Founders Cup Finals.
In the division semifinals and finals, the teams play a best-of-three series at the higher ranked team's home venue. In the conference semifinals and finals, the teams play a best-of-five series at a neutral location. In the Founders Cup Finals, the two conference winners play a best-of-seven series at a neutral location.
Inline Hockey Rink
Professional Inline Hockey Association games are played on a
hockey rinkwhich is rectangular with rounded corners and surrounded by a wall and glass. The center line divides the court in half, which divides the court into two attacking zones. Near the end of both ends of the rink, there is a thin red "goal line" spanning the width of the court, which is used to judge goals.
Professional Inline Hockey Association rules"While the Professional Inline Hockey Association follows the general rules of inline hockey, it differs slightly from those used in games organized by USARS, AAU, IIHF, and/or FIRS. It also has slight variations from the game of ice hockey. Infractions of the rules can lead to a stoppage of play or a penalty call for more serious infractions.
The PIHA differs slightly with ice hockey in not having rules such as
offsides, icing, or fightingcreating a more open style of play.
Trophies and awards
The Professional Inline Hockey Association presents several trophies each year. The most prestigious team award is the Founders Cup, which is awarded to the league champion at the end of the Founders Cup playoffs. The team that has the most points in the regular season is awarded the Best Overall Record. There is also a trophy awarded to a player based on their statistics during the regular season; The Joe Cook Award is awarded for the league scoring champion (goals and assists). For the 2008 season this statistics-based award was awarded to
Brian Yinglingof the Colorado Springs Thunder.
The most prestigious individual award is the Scott Rupp Award which is awarded annually to the
Most Valuable Playerwho is the most valuable to his team during the regular season. In addition to the regular season awards, the Walt Frazier Award is awarded annually to the most valuable player during the PIHA's Founders Cup playoffs. The Professional Inline Hockey Association names the award winners after the Founders Cup finals.
Players, coaches, officials, and team builders who have had notable careers are eligible to be voted into the
PIHA Hall of Fame.
* [http://www.thepiha.com Professional Inline Hockey Association]
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