Senior ice hockey
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Senior hockey refers to amateur or semi-professional ice hockey competition. There are no age restrictions for senior players, who typically consist of those whose junior eligibility has expired. The top senior amateur teams in Canada compete annually for the Allan Cup.
Senior hockey leagues in North America operate under the jurisdiction of Hockey Canada or USA Hockey. They are not affiliated in any way with professional hockey leagues. Many former professional players play senior hockey after their pro careers are over.
From the beginning of the 1900s until the 1970s, senior hockey was immensely popular across Canada, particularly in rural towns. At a time when most households didn't have a television and few hockey games were broadcast, local arenas were filled to capacity to watch the local team take on a rival. The Allan Cup had a prestige comparable to that of the Stanley Cup. Some[who?] believed that senior hockey was sometimes played at a caliber higher than professional.
The popularity of senior hockey declined in the 1980s and 1990s. A number of long-running leagues and teams vanished. Today, many players choose to play organized recreational hockey, sometimes referred to as "commercial hockey". The popularity of the National Hockey League and junior hockey has also supplanted senior hockey in many towns across Canada.