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

The Competition Format 

  • 32 teams from 13 leagues
  • Teams can only qualify on sporting merits
  • No founding 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 in their own league, based on sporting merits only. Teams must reach one of the following criteria in order to qualify for the CHL: 

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

The United Kingdom is the lone exception as the EIHL, in line with their traditions, determine their national champion following the regular season (not in the playoffs).

How do teams qualify for the CHL?

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 founding 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 February. Four teams in each of the eight groups will battle in the Group Stage for the playoffs. The top two teams in each group will advance to the Round of 16. 

With the exception of the Final, all match-ups in the playoff stage will be two-game, home-and-away aggregate scoring series.

The CHL Playing Format
A total of 125 games is played in the Group Stage and Playoffs to crown the CHL champion
The participating countries
In the 2019/20 competition, 32 teams from 13 countries and 13 leagues will battle for the European Trophy
The CHL Format explained in 62 seconds

The Group Stage Draw

Every year in May, the Group Stage Draw will be held to determine which four teams will face each other in the first six game days of the CHL. The 32 participants are seeded in four pots according to the following criteria:

Pot 1

The CHL Champions of the previous season, national champions of the founding leagues,
following the regular season winners of the highest ranked club from founding leagues

Pot 2

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

Pot 3

The remaining clubs from the founding leagues in order of their ranking and of their
respective league's placing in the CHL league ranking

Pot 4

The teams from challenger leagues in order of their respective league's placing in the
CHL league ranking and the IIHF Continental Cup Winner
The CHL Group Stage Draw - how the 32 teams are drawn into 8 groups

The Overtime and Shootout procedure

If a game in the Group Stage is tied at the end of regulation time, there will be a five minute overtime period immediately after an intermission of 70 seconds. Overtime will be played with three skaters and one goalie each, ending with a sudden-death goal or after five minutes. If no goal is scored in overtime there will be a game-winning shootout.

In the playoffs, an overtime period is only applied if the aggregate score from the first and return game is tied. There will be a ten-minute sudden-death overtime period, played with three skaters and one goalie each.

If the CHL final is tied after 60 minutes, there will be a regular 18-minute intermission followed by a 20-minute sudden-death overtime period. Overtime will be played with four skaters and one goalie each.

Not sure how Overtime & Shootout work in the CHL? Watch the Explainer Video!

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. 

What happens if two or more teams are tied after the Group Stage?

The Playoff Draw

The eight group winners and runners-up in the Group Stage advance to the Playoffs. In order to determine which teams will face each other in the Round of 16, the eight winners are seeded into Pot A and the eight runners-up in Pot B. They will then be drawn against each other randomly according to the Sport Regulations

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

Would you like to know who teams are placed in the Playoff Tree?

The Playoff Aggregate Score

The Round of 16, Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals will be played in a home-and-away two-game series and are decided upon the aggregate score of the first and second leg. Overtime and shootouts can only happen following the return game if the aggregate score is tied. 

Overtime will be 10 minute sudden-death, 3-on-3. The team who scores 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?