Chelmsford Chieftains are a British Ice Hockey team who play their home games at Riverside Ice And Leisure, Chelmsford, Essex, and will play the 2017/18 season in the National Ice Hockey League South, Division 2.
Founded in 1987, they played in the British Hockey League (known as the Heineken League), Division 2. Their first game was played in September 1987 against Peterborough Titans, which they won 11-4, Stuart Steeves scoring the team's first ever goal. In their inaugural season, Chieftains finished second in the league, behind Romford Raiders. Chieftains remained in Division 2, despite a reformat of the league structure (something which would later become common place in British Ice Hockey), until until the 1992/93 season when, despite finishing 2nd in their group, they won promotion to Division 1.
Their early seasons in Division 1 were somewhat less successful, their first season finishing bottom of their group, and the following two seasons finishing in 10th place.
With the dissolution of the British Ice Hockey League in 1996, Chieftains spent the following two seasons in the English National Ice Hockey League South Division 1, finishing 2nd in both seasons - firstly, once again, to Romford Raiders in 1996/97, and to Invicta Dynamos the following season.In 1998/99, Chieftains moved up to the English Premier Ice Hockey League, then the 2nd tier in UK Ice Hockey behind the Ice Hockey Superleague, and which they played in for the following 9 seasons.
During their time in the EPIHL, Chieftains had mixed fortunes, their worst season being in 2005/06 when they finished in 11th place, while in their 2nd season in the league they won their first ever league trophy finishing 10 points clear of 2nd placed Isle Of Wight Raiders.
Following the rise and rise of teams in the EPIHL, and with bigger teams with bigger budgets arriving in the league, Chieftains used their foresight to predict a bleak future for them in the EPIHL so, in the 2008/09 season they pulled out of the EPIHL and returned to the ENL South Division 2 and began to rebuild and reinvent their team.
A successful campaign followed, which saw the team crowned as champions, dropping just one point in the league competition, and winning promotion to ENIHL South Division 1.
Chieftains played in the English National Ice Hockey League (renamed National Ice Hockey League from the 2012/13 season) from 2009/10 until 2016/17, never finishing lower than 4th place, and winning an unprecedented five successive league campaigns from 2012/13.
At the end of the 2016/17 season, the English Ice Hockey Association recommended to the teams in the EPIHL that they apply to play in NIHL Division 1 for the 2017/18 season as the league was no longer viable after Manchester Phoenix folded and MK Lightning and Guildford Flames chose to play in the Elite Ice Hockey League. Those teams were subsequently accepted into the league and Chieftains, using the same foresight as they'd had in 2008, could see a repeat of what had happened in the EPL in previous seasons, so chose to pull out of NIHL Division , play in Division 2 and, once again, rebuild their team to come back stronger.
Chieftains all time most successful player is Canadian forward Rick Smith who, between 1989 and 1997, made 206 appearances for the team, scored 557 goals and 344 assists. The club's longest serving player is defender Danny Wright who has played 474 games for the team since 1997, only missing two seasons in his career in 1999/00 and 2008/09 when he played for rivals Romford Raiders.
NIHL South Division 1 League Champions: 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15, 2015/16, 2016/17
NIHL South Division 1 Play Off Champions: 2012/13, 2013/14, 2015/16
NIHL South Cup Champions: 2015/16, 2016/17
NIHL South East Trophy Champions: 2013/14, 2015/16
ENIHL South Division 1 Play Off Champions: 2010/11, 2011/12
ENIHL South Division 2 League Champions: 2008/09
EPIHL League Champions: 1999/00
EPIHL Play Off Champions: 1999/00
British League Entry Play Off Champions: 1992/93
Millenium Cup Champions: 1999/00
Autumn Trophy Champions: 1990/91
Essex Cup Champions: 1988/89, 1997/98, 2004/05, 2012
Essex & Kent Cup Champions: 2006/07