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The CHL Format
What is the Champions Hockey League and how does it work?

The Competition Format 

  • 32 teams from 13 leagues
  • Teams qualify on sporting merits alone
  • No shareholder club shall automatically be granted playing rights
  • A maximum of 5 teams per country
  • The CHL Champions are automatically qualified for the next CHL season. However, this will not grant one extra place for the league of the CHL winners.

The Qualification System

Teams must earn their place in the CHL on the ice, based on sporting merits alone. Teams must reach one of the following criteria in order to become a CHL contestant: 

1. CHL champions 
2. National league champions 
3. Regular season winners 
4. Regular season runners-up 
5. Regular season third-placed
6. Regular season fourth-placed
7. Regular season fifth-placed

The United Kingdom is the lone exception as the EIHL, in line with their tradition, determines their national champion through the regular season (not in the playoffs).

Covid-19 Implications for 2021/22:

  • As the German DEL changed their playing format for the 2020/21 season due to the pandemic, the following CHL qualification criteria apply for Germany:
    1. National Champions
    2. Group A/B winners with higher PPG (points per game percentage)
    3. Group A/B winners with lower PPG (points per game percentage)
    4. Group A/B runners-up with higher PPG (points per game percentage)
    5. Group A/B runners-up with lower PPG (points per game percentage)
       
  • As the EIHL was forced to cancel the 2020/21 season, the CHL Board decided to award the UK's qualification place to the Cardiff Devils (qualified for CHL via 2019/20 season)
     
  • As the IIHF Continental Cup did not take place in 2020/21, the CHL Board decided to award its qualification place to the 2019/20 winners SønderyjskE Vojens 

The CHL League Ranking

The number of places per league is allocated with the help of the CHL league ranking. This tool calculates the performance of teams in every CHL season and the better the teams perform, the more spots a league can achieve. However, the six shareholder leagues remain ranked 1-6 while all challenger leagues follow in accordance. Every year, the previous four CHL seasons are taken into consideration (weighted 100, 75, 50 and 25 percent – in which the newest season counts the most).

How are spots allocated to leagues?

The Playing Format

A total of 125 games will be played over the course of 13 Game Days between August and March. Four teams in each of the eight groups will battle to make the Playoffs in the Group Stage. The top two teams in each group advance to the Round of 16. 

With the exception of the Final, all match-ups in the Playoffs stage are played in a two-game, home-and-away aggregate scoring series format.

The CHL Playing Format
A total of 125 games is played in the Group Stage and Playoffs to crown the CHL champions
13 Leagues, 14 Countries
32 teams from 14 different countries are competing in this year's CHL
The CHL Format explained in 61 seconds

The 2021/22 Group Stage Draw

Every year in May, the Group Stage Draw is held to determine which four teams will face each other on the first six Game Days of the CHL.

Final Olympic Qualification tournament implications for 2021/22:

To accommodate the needs of the national teams involved in the FOQ (Final Olympic Qualification) tournament, the CHL Board has decided to add additional Game Days to the CHL Calandar for teams of countries involved and to slightly adapt the draw procedure of the Group Stage Draw.

Specifically, eight teams from countries participating in the FOQ will be allocated into their own pot (pot no. 5) and drawn into two separate groups of four which will not play their CHL games on the weekend of 26-29 August during the FOQ (no league protection applies to those two groups for the CHL Group Stage Draw). The other 24 teams will be allocated into four pots and drawn by the standard procedure into six groups of four (league protection applies here). 

The 32 participants are seeded into the five pots according to the following criteria:

Pot 1            

The CHL Champions of the 2019/20 season and the national champions of
the shareholder leagues*.

Pot 2

The regular season winners of the shareholder leagues*, following the regular season
runners-up of the highest ranked shareholder league*. 

Pot 3

The following best clubs from the shareholder leagues* in order of their ranking and of
their respective league's placing in the CHL league ranking.

Pot 4

The remaining clubs from the shareholder leagues* in order of their ranking and of their 
respective league's placing in the CHL league ranking and challenger league clubs from 
Belarus, UK and the IIHF Continental Cup winners (DEN) 
Pot 5Teams from shareholder and challenger leagues involved in the Final Olympic Qualification 
tournament (AUT, ITA, FRA, SVK, NOR, POL, DEN Champions) 

* except ICEHL


The Tie-Breaking Formula

In order to determine which team will advance after the Group Stage, in case two or more teams are tied in points, there is a tie-breaking formula according to the Sport Regulations. For two tied teams, their mutual games (i.e. head-to-head) will be the tie-breaker with the aggregate winner of the two games taking precedence. The winner of the head-to-head will be determined first on points, then on goal difference, more goals scored against the other tied team, higher number of goals scored in one of the mutual games and finally, if the two teams are still tied, on the higher position in the CHL club ranking.

Should three or more teams be tied on points, a sub-group of those will be created. The above process is then applied until no team is tied anymore. Should only two teams remain tied after one of the criteria (i.e. points) only their mutual games will be considered in the tie-breaking formula. For more detail, please refer to the Sport Regulations.

What happens if two or more teams are tied?

The Playoff Draw

The eight group winners and runners-up in the Group Stage advance to the Playoffs. In order to determine the Round of 16 match-ups and not have any repeat Group Stage pairs, the eight winners are seeded into Group A and the eight runners-up into Group B. They are then randomly drawn against each other according to the Sport Regulations

The pairings are then placed into the Playoff tree, which shows their potential path to the Final - from the Round of 16 to the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and the all-decisive Champions Hockey League Final.

Learn how the Playoff Draw works

The Playoff Aggregate Score

The Round of 16, Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals are played in a home-and-away two-game series format and are decided on combined aggregate score of the first and second leg. Overtime and shootouts are used in the return game if the aggregate score is tied after regulation.

Overtime is played as 10 minute sudden-death, 3-on-3. The team that score the first goal is declared the winner of the series. Should no goals be scored, a shootout (5 shooters each team) will determine who advances to the next round.

Not sure how the aggregate score in the playoffs works?
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