For its second season of play, the Champions Hockey League increased in size from 44 to 48 teams. In addition to the 26 Founding Clubs and 10 additional qualifiers from the six Founding Leagues, the number of Wild Cards was increased from six to 10. The CHL welcomed a team from Belarus for the first time, increasing the number of leagues represented to 12.
In total, 157 games were played, beginning on 20 August and finishing with the one-game Final between Karpat Oulu and Frolunda Gothenburg on 9 February. Frolunda made up for their loss in the 2015 Final, winning 2–1 in Oulu to keep the title of European Club Champions in Sweden.
The 2015–16 Champions Hockey League was split into two phases, the Group Stage and the Playoff Stage. The Group Stage was made up of 16 groups of three teams in each. After a double home-and-away round-robin series, the top two teams from each group advanced to the Round of 32, in which group winners were paired against second-place finishers. The Playoff Stage (Round of 32, Round of 16, Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals) were played in two-game, home-and-away knock-out series, where the winner on goals aggregate advanced. The Final was one game, played at the venue of the team with the best accumulated Group Stage and Playoff record.
Group Stage Review
Nordic clubs were again dominant – but while it was no surprise that 11 out of 16 groups were won by clubs from Northern Europe, the fact that both Norwegian clubs finished first was. In particular, Storhamar Hamar beat two strong teams from Central Europe in Sparta Prague and Geneve-Servette to finish on top, while the Stavanger Oilers topped Ocelari Trinec and KalPa Kuopio. Two German clubs (Adler Mannheim and Red Bull Munich), two Swiss clubs (ZSC Lions Zurich and HC Davos), and Czech newcomers HC Litvinov also finished first, while at the other end of the spectrum clubs from Belarus (Neman Grodno), Denmark (SonderjyskE Vojens), France (Grenoble and Gap Rapaces) and Scotland (Braehead Clan) all posted wins, despite advancing no further. Karpat Oulu goalie Sami Aittokallio drew attention for allowing only 1 goal in 4 group games. He then shut out Dusseldorfer EG twice in a row in the Round of 32 to lift his total to a CHL-record 5 shutouts.
The biggest story heading into the Playoff Stage was the arrival of 18-year-old phenom Auston Matthews to the ZSC Lions. Matthews managed 1 assist in 2 games as Zurich fell to Sparta in the Round of 32. Elsewhere, Storhamar continued to be the surprise story of this CHL season by beating out Red Bull Salzburg before being eliminated by TPS Turku in the Round of 16. Eisbaren Berlin became the first German team to enter the Round of 16, where they fell to Skelleftea AIK. That was the end of the line for Skelleftea, however, as the Swedish powerhouse was shocked by Davos in the Quarter-Finals, making the Swiss champs the first non-Nordic team to enter the Semi-Finals.
The Final featured Karpat Oulu hosting Frolunda Gothenburg, where Frolunda scored twice in the first period and held a 2–0 lead after 40 minutes – just as they had a year earlier in Lulea. Karpat got one goal in the third period, but it wasn't enough as Frolunda held on for the one-goal win. The CHL's MVP and Top Scorer was Frolunda's Ryan Lasch, with 16 points (7 + 9) in 13 games.
|Third place||HC Davos|