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Roller Hockey International

Roller Hockey International
Sport Inline hockey
Founded 1992
Inaugural season 1993
Countries United States
Canada
Ceased 2001
Last champion(s) St. Louis Vipers
Most titles Anaheim Bullfrogs (2)
Founder Dennis Murphy
Ralph Backstrom
Larry King

Roller Hockey International was a professional inline hockey league that operated in North America from 1993 to 1999. It was the first major professional league for inline hockey.

RHI hoped to capitalize on the inline skating boom of the early 1990s, but lost steam as the fad died down. Key parts of its success were its stance on no guaranteed contracts, instead teams would all split prize money. Teams were generally made up of minor league ice hockey players playing on inline skates during the summer months between ice seasons. RHI was also known for its unstable franchises and instability in the league's front office itself.

Ultimately, after five seasons of play, RHI folded in 1998 with two of its franchises joining Major League Roller Hockey: the Buffalo Wings and its premier club the Anaheim Bullfrogs. After folding there was a movement to revamp and come back the following year as Major League Hockey, but it never came to fruition. RHI was revived in 1999, but cancelled the 2000 season and the league finally folded operations in 2001 when their sites were limited to arenas in California.

Contents

  • Rules 1
  • Teams 2
  • Expansion 3
  • Murphy Cup Championship Winners 4
  • History 5
  • Licensing 6
  • Media coverage 7
  • NHL alumni 8
  • References 9
  • External links 10

Rules

The rules in the RHI were similar to but not identical to those of ice hockey. Besides the obvious difference of playing on a floor instead of ice, the RHI had four players and a goalie at a time on the playing surface opposed to ice hockey's five and a goalie. Minor penalties were only a minute and a half as opposed to two minutes and major penalties were four minutes instead of five.

There were no blue lines therefore no two line passes; however, there was still illegal clearing (icing) and a different version of offside -- a player could skate over the red line before the puck; however, the player couldn't receive a pass over the line. The puck itself was lighter, at 312 oz. and made of red plastic as opposed to a 512 oz. black rubber ice hockey puck. There were four 12-minute quarters opposed to the NHL's three 20-minute periods. A tied score at the end of regulation time in the regular season would go straight to a shootout instead of overtime.

The playoffs followed a best-of-three series format; however, the third game was not a full 48 minute game. Instead it was just a regular 12-minute quarter called "the mini game". If the teams were tied at the end of the quarter a sudden-death overtime period would follow.

Total Murphy Cup Championships
Team Titles
Anaheim Bullfrogs 2
St. Louis Vipers 1
Orlando Jackals 1
San Jose Rhinos 1
Buffalo Stampede 1
Roller Hockey International Progression
Year Teams Games Played
1993 12 teams 14 games
1994 24 teams 22 games
1995 19 teams 24 games
1996 18 teams 28 games
1997 10 teams 24 games
1998 No season
1999 8 teams 26 games

Teams

Note: RHI 1993-97, revived RHI 1999

Note: The Palm Desert Silver-Cats (1995) of Palm Springs, California and later in Ontario, California (1997) were a semi-pro team that played exhibition games with the Blades and Bullfrogs of the RHI league.

Expansion

Year Teams Expansion Defunct Suspended Return from Hiatus Relocated Name Changes
1993 12 Anaheim Bullfrogs
Calgary Rad'z
Connecticut Coasters
Florida Hammerheads
Los Angeles Blades
Oakland Skates
Portland Rage
St. Louis Vipers
San Diego Barracudas
Toronto Planets
Utah Rollerbees
Vancouver Voodoo
1994 24 Atlanta Fire Ants
Buffalo Stampede
Chicago Cheetahs
Edmonton Sled Dogs
Minnesota Arctic Blast
Montreal Roadrunners
New England Stingers
New Jersey Rockin Rollers
Philadelphia Bulldogs
Phoenix Cobras
Pittsburgh Phantoms
San Jose Rhinos
Tampa Bay Tritons
Toronto Planets Connecticut → Sacramento River Rats
Utah → Las Vegas Flash
1995 19 Detroit Motor City Mustangs
Minnesota Blue Ox
Calgary Rad'z
Florida Hammerheads
Las Vegas Flash
Pittsburgh Phantoms
Portland Rage
Tampa Bay Tritons
Minnesota Arctic Blast New England → Ottawa Loggers
Atlanta → Oklahoma Coyotes
Edmonton → Orlando Rollergators
1996 18 Denver Daredevils
Long Island Jawz
Buffalo Stampede
Chicago Cheetahs
Detroit Motor City Mustangs
Minnesota Blue Ox
Oklahoma Coyotes
Minnesota Arctic Blast Phoenix → Empire State Cobras
Orlando Jackals (Rollergators)
1997 10 Minnesota Arctic Blast
Philadelphia Bulldogs
San Diego Barracudas
Vancouver Voodoo
Oakland Skates
Oklahoma Coyotes
Empire State → Buffalo Wings Ottawa Wheels (Loggers)
1998 0 Denver Daredevils
Long Island Jawz
Oakland Skates
Orlando Jackals
Ottawa Wheels
Sacramento River Rats
1999 8 Chicago Bluesmen
Dallas Stallions
Minnesota Blue Ox Oklahoma Coyotes → Las Vegas Coyotes

Murphy Cup Championship Winners

History

Licensing

The league inspired at least one video game, Super Nintendo's RHI Roller Hockey '95, although the game was never released.[1]

There was also a call-in style stats, scores and interview hotline where fans could call in following games. The phone number was 1-800-741-4RHI. This line was updated nightly following each game.

Media coverage

In the 1994 and '95 seasons, there was a regular schedule of games on ESPN2. In addition, several teams had their own radio or TV contracts. For example, a number of Blades home games were seen on Prime Sports and the Bullfrogs had radio broadcasts from 1994 to '96.

NHL alumni

References

  1. ^ http://www.allgame.com/cg/agg.dll?p=agg&sql=1:7460

External links

  • RHI statistics
  • List of RHI rules
  • RHI at The Internet Hockey Database
  • [2] Roller Hockey photo archive by Shelly Castellano
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