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Notice: the CHF's graphical design is done by Kevin Harper/HarperK. All credit goes to him. Ideas and backstories are mine. ---------- NEW JERSEY NITRO Established: 2002-03 Season Stadium: Johnny Rocket's Arena at Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson Township, NJ (18,542 capacity) Garand Cups: 0 The Continental Hockey Federation (CHF) most recently expanded in 2002. At the time, most people thought the two new expansion teams would be located in the Southwest for the Western Conference and the Mid-Atlantic region for the Eastern Conference. While the former guess was correct, as a franchise was awarded to Albuquerque, New Mexico, the other was wrong. With many expecting a team in Baltimore, the league announced the second new franchise had been awarded to... the state of New Jersey. No city was specified. This led to head-scratching galore. The market was already dominated by the New York Emperors and Philadelphia Talons. Newark was a craphole with no stadium, and Camden... well, the less said about Camden, the better. Most guessed the team would be given to Jersey City or East Rutherford; instead, the team ended up in 42,000-populated Jackson. While confusing, most (correctly) assumed the team would have some connection to Six Flags Great Adventure, which was located in the township as well. Sure enough, Six Flags owners Premier Parks announced they would run the team, and would name it after the then-new Nitro hypercoaster. Clad in the B&M thrill machine's blue, pink, and yellow, New Jersey first took the ice at the then-named Great American Hockey Stadium, a state-of-the-art venue named after the park's Great American Scream Machine coaster (and still considered one of the best sports venues in North America). Their first game was an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Charleston Aviators, who would go on to win the Garand Cup that season. Things didn't get much better in that first season, as the team only won four away games and finished with a 20-52-10 record, the worst in the league. Fortunately, the team managed to attract rabidly loyal fans for an expansion team, and managed to improve drastically in their second season, finishing 39-34-9 and squeezing into the playoffs as the East's final seed; unfortunately, they were swept by the Can-Am Trophy-winning Cleveland Shredders in the first round. The team stayed in the middle of the pack for a few years after that, making the playoffs two more times but only winning two combined games. The team's ownership took a nosedive in 2008 when Six Flags entered bankruptcy. Suffering from managerial issues as the parent company struggled to keep its parks afloat, as well as an injury-ridden roster (including goaltender Rick DiPietro missing the entire season), New Jersey instantly dropped to the bottom of the league. Fortunately, they ended up winning the draft lottery, and used the first overall pick to select center John Tavares. The team was on the upswing from the immediate start of the season, going 8-1-1 in their first ten games, with Tavares scoring nine goals and four assists. The team floated around the top of the Potvin Division for the entire season, and on the very last game, they exacted their revenge on Charleston by beating them 5-2 at home to capture their first division title in the team's young history, as well as having Tavares win Rookie of the Year. Entering the playoffs as the second seed, they took out the Virginia Admirals in the first round four to one, winning their first-ever playoff series. In the second, they faced another Can-Am Trophy winner in the Montreal Guerriers. In a physical, low-scoring series, the Nitro beat Montreal in seven games, with the final game at home (a 3-2 win in which Tavares got his first hat trick) going into quintuple-overtime, the first and last time this has ever happened in league history. Tired from that series, Jersey finally fell in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Memphis Pharaohs in five games. Since then, thanks to Six Flags emerging from bankruptcy and a wildly-deep farm system, the Nitro haven't missed the playoffs, and made it back to the ECF in the 2013-14 season, once again falling (this time to Charleston). With newly-acquired goaltender Mike Smith and Tavares leading the charge, Jersey's future looks bright. Random Notes: Captain: John Tavares Goal Song: "We Like To Party" - Vengaboys Mascot: Mr. Six ---------- Feedback is greatly appreciated in both the designs and backstories!