A online hockey league which played via modem to modem, and internet from 1997 to 2013.
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How it all started ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It all began with annual Sega Tournaments at the Nebel House in Cary, Illinois from 1994 thru 1997. By the time of the fourth tourney, we had 18 in attendance for a 11 hour marathon of gaming. The annual basement tourney's eventually spawned the CCHL on the internet using the PC version of NHL '97. The draft that first season (1996-1997) was based on when you joined. Of the initial entrants, Mike Pahl was the third person to respond and he took the speedy Pittsburgh Penguins. CCHL Member Al Arango was helpful in those early days. CCHL 1 was a real learning experience in both web development and people you meet on the internet. One of the first league rules put into place was "21 or older may join" but did not apply to those already in the league. CCHL I used an old Sega tournament schedule doubled in length. A 17 game regular season schedule for 18 players now became a 34 game schedule for 18 players. NHL '97 played slow but even for opponents over 56k modem. The game's main way to score was to make a bee line to the net and deke left or right. Having a fast team or playing great defense was the key to success. By early October the season ended with Mike Pahl declared first ever champion. It was Mike who came up with the idea of league members getting together at a local establishment to re hash the season over some beers. Only a handful attended that first "in person" meeting in October 1997, but it was fun and memorable just the same. Mike Pahl was given his newly engraved Stanley Cup Traveling Trophy at the meeting. With NHL '98 and CCHL II many changes were set into place. Most importantly, we decided to use the new EA Feature "Commissioner Mode" to run the league. The CCHL was the first internet league to use commissioner mode successfully! By the end of October 1997 the CCHL had made phone contact with EA Sports Programmer Jon Lawlor and worked with Mr. Lawlor on the NHL '98 Patch. Before the CCHL II Season began we made the commitment to play with all the NHL teams and for a full 82 game season each year. Players were ranked according to their regular season and playoff records while new members were found to man teams 19-26. The "drag" shot and home ice advantage became synonymous with NHL '98. Vancouver's Chad Cassinelli and the NY Islanders Mike Pahl had outstanding regular seasons only to be toppled in the playoffs. Al Arango went thru great marathon battles throughout the playoffs and went on to win the cup with his Florida Panthers. Following the release of NHL '99 the CCHL was contacted by phone by EA Producer Bill Kim who requested our input for NHL '99's patch. An unfortunate bug overlooked in the NHL '99 Patch was the "standings bug". This bug proved to be an ongoing problem during the CCHL III Season. This stats bug would add an extra win or loss to a teams standings totals and usually at random. This commissioner dropped out to play maintenance man backing up the season on floppy disk many times daily. NHL '99 was fun and more simlike while being a difficult game to score in. It was decided early on and after a number of 0-0 practice games that the season should be locked into "Pro" mode rather than "All-Star" Mode for 82 games. However, by mid-season the "dot-shot" was discovered. With this new offensive weapon players made their way to the face-off circle then wristed the puck at the near post of the net. Having a right handed gloved goaltender was suddenly like hitting gold. Shawn Steward blew through the playoffs with his Carolina Hurricanes and without defeat. Shawn Steward and Scott Young did alot of great work to make the CCHL Website look more polished. Bob Mattson created a program called "Statman" to automate the stats and scores for the CCHL Website. CCHL 4 and NHL 2000 saw Bob Mattson's Statman Program fully implemented. Mattson chose the Toronto Maple Leafs with the 10th pick overall and he dominated the league with only five losses in the regular season. EA pulled down its "Multi-Player Matchup" from the EA Sports website for finding local Chicagoland players for the CCHL. It was decided that new blood for the local CCHL would now be thru word of mouth. But with this short term approach only going to last so long another plan would be needed. So in the Fall of 1999 the league was asked to begin looking for high speed internet connections when available. This was requested to keep the league full and if out of state players would eventually be needed. In December of 1999, we then were contacted by Russ Tomlinson of the Global Modem Hockey League who told us of his plans for "Thunderpuck". Russ asked that the CCHL become THE league for Thunderpuck and this was eventually agreed on. This became an opportunity to find new players since Thunderpuck would be drawing in many visitors from across the internet. NHL 2000 introduced internet play for the first time in the CCHL. But connections both internet and modem were mediocre. EA Producer Bill Kim sent us the NHL 2000 Pre-Patch to try out and critique. One of the CCHL's direct requests proved to be the peer to peer or client server description that popped-up when a league game loaded on screen. NHL 2000 proved to be somewhat fun in an arcadish way. Goal scoring was primarily done by going into the corner then cutting across the crease, using wraparounds or dekes. One timers in NHL 2000 were non-existent. That season "lifetime ownership" became part of league rules. The league meeting at Ron Santo's in Schaumburg, Illinois that year had 18 people in attendance. Bob Mattson brought his PC to the meeting and we all had a good time with it. NHL 2001 brought with it many changes including improved AI, more one timers, a defense that actually could stop people and a better game in all but one facet: connections. The league for the first time in it's history banned a shot called the "floater goal" from outside the blueline. The Chicago Cyber Hockey League officially changed it's name that season to Thunderleague Tomahawk. "Tomahawk" was chosen since it represented Chicago (Blackhawks) but was still broad enough to welcome out of state players. The Tomahawk V Season began with a false start. At the seasons beginning Client/Server was the default setting for league games. However, a week into the season it became obvious that Client/Server was the ultimate home ice advantage for the sake of a cleaner connection. As complaints poured it became apparent something needed to be done. The season was restarted December 1st with Peer to Peer as the host's required setting. After a great run, ultimately it was Shawn Steward (Atlanta) and Dan Bacon (Colorado) squaring off against one another in the Stanley Cup Finals. The series went down to the wire in a dramatic Game 7 with Steward winning his second Stanley Cup in three seasons of play. On November 15, 2001 and still waiting for the NHL 2002 patch release, the league began it's sixth season. By this time, the league had but one local player left on the waiting list (John Keilback) so players were informed high speed players from outside the area would be possible. And, that's what happened as Pennsylvania college student Chris Huber took over the Florida Panthers on February 3rd, 2002. New changes this season included the shortening of lifetime ownership to three seasons, a trades director and committee to oversee all trades and Shawn Steward taking over the league programming duties for both Storm and Tomahawk. The game NHL 2002 proved to be superior in its connections both dial-up and internet. Main ways to score in NHL 2002 were dekes, hard shots from the slot by skilled players, rebounds and deflections. John Sarna and his Vancouver Canucks had a outstanding season and only six losses. Detroit Red Wings GM Timucin Uras turned it up a notch mid-season going 39-4-2 and eventually defeated Atlanta GM Shawn Steward four games to three in the Stanley Cup Finals. Tomahawk VII was tough for one reason and that was NHL 2003's uneven internet connections. Some players who were consistently good players in the past now were dogmeat thanks to NHL 2003. NHL 2003 offered a good variety of scoring and an improved AI over it's predecessor NHL 2002. Nevertheless, despite losing some good league members due to the frustration of this game's connectivity, the league survived. Jim Cassinelli and his Vancouver Canucks went an amazing 80-1-0-1 while winning the Stanley Cup in Tomahawk VII. In July of 2003, Tomahawk bid farewell to Thunderpuck and changed it's name back to the CCHL in an effort to get back to it's original roots. The league welcomed both in state and out of state players in the dawn of a new era of the Chicago Cyber Hockey League. In the fall of 2003 the league switched back to a non-commissioner mode league format thanks to Kevin Brelis and Jason Johnson's "Sportzone". Sportzone was created for minor and local rec hockey leagues mostly in Canada. But Brelis and Johnson were kind enough to take the Sportzone concept and modify it specifically for EA's NHL 2004 and the CCHL. The new arrangement enabled the CCHL's mostly older GM's the greater flexibility to play when it was convienient for them. Family and work committments became more palatable while league games were all played with little GM turnover. The CCHL VIII Season was a great success thanks to the new Sportzone setup! The season saw Timucin Uras capture his second CCHL Stanley Cup as GM of the New York Rangers. By the Fall of 2004 the NHL Lockout had sapped alot of the usual interest in NHL hockey. Despite this, the CCHL PC league had one last hurrah (CCHL IX) as Jim Cassinelli took over as league commissioner and did an awesome job. The Nashville Predators Jim Baker of Schererville, Indiana and the Montreal Canadiens Joel Max of Dublin, Ohio eventually met in the Stanley Cup Final. The Habs won the last and final CCHL PC Stanley Cup four games to one. In another first for the CCHL, the simultaneously run CCHL Xbox League using NHL 2K5 (Sega) thru ESPN Videogames "Online Leagues" was started. Many veteran CCHL-PC members made the switch to Xbox for the beginning of CCHL X and a 48 game regular season which began on October 20, 2004. By the end of the playoffs on April 20th, 2005, the league's founder Todd Nebel (Los Angeles) won his first Stanley Cup against Joe Wagner's Pittsburgh Penguins. CCHL XI began on October 20, 2005 with 28 players using NHL 2K6 on regular Xbox. The season was a great one minus the problem that caused some games not to register in the Online League feature. Stats were fortunately kept thru the CCHL's "Sportzone" website as backup for historical purposes. The CCHL's Chris Curutchet (Venom) was responsible for creating the seasons game sliders and AI settings. The 40 game regular season concluded on April 13th 2006 with 16 players qualifying for the playoffs. On May 8th 2006 Anaheim GM Devin Molina defeated his cousin, Buffalo GM Sean Molina for the CCHL XI Stanley Cup Championship. In June 2007 the CCHL XII came to a close with our Champion Brian Battle (Nashville Predators) defeating Steve Kotzen (Los Angeles Kings) in a close 3-2 series victory. The CCHL then ceased as a Xbox 360 league and waxed nostalgic as a league playing only classic Sega Genesis - EA Sports NHL hockey from 1991-1998. (Updated, August 2007)