High school ice hockey in Missouri

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High school hockey in Missouri consists of two leagues centered in the two largest cities in the state, St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City, Missouri. The majority of the schools are located in the St. Louis metro area, those teams are members of the Mid-States Club Hockey Association (MSCHA), the larger of the two leagues in Missouri. Schools in the northwest, southwest, central and western portions of Missouri are members of the Mid America High School Hockey League (MAHSHL). High school ice hockey in Missouri is not sanctioned by the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) but is sanctioned by USA Hockey.

NHL Alumni[edit]

Leagues[edit]

Mid-States Club Hockey Association (MSCHA)[edit]

The Mid-States Club Hockey Association (MSCHA) is the main high school hockey league in Missouri (and is often referred to as Mid-States). The league is made up of teams in the St. Louis, Missouri metro area, all teams are located in Missouri except for one team, Edwardsville High School, located in Illinois. The MSCHA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of high school hockey.

History[edit]

Originally known as the Area High School Club Hockey League, the MSCHA was founded in 1971 with significant seed money and sponsorship from Union Electric, as well as support from the St. Louis Blues, including the donation of the Challenge Cup for the league's winner, and free usage of The Arena for the final. At the time, organized youth hockey was experiencing a boom in the St. Louis area, mostly caused by the Blues' arrival and subsequent appearance in three Stanley Cup finals. Eight teams contested that first season, with DeSmet winning the first championship. Of the eight teams that played that first year, only three can claim to have been in every Mid-States season: SLUH, CBC, and DeSmet. The league grew quickly, achieving a high of over 50 teams in its second year (when it also changed its name to the current MSCHA), but it also experienced a high rate of attrition, as clubs were disbanded due to loss of players or the removal of school support. Nevertheless, throughout the '70s the league enjoyed great success. Plans were tabled for expansion to Kansas City and Columbia, but they were dropped following a dispute over travel costs and the loss of Columbia's ice rinks.

During the 1980s, the league went through several periods of change; a JV league was established for younger players, schools from new population centers such as West St. Louis County and St. Charles County joined. The playoff format was also changed after the 1984 season into the current system.

The 1990s saw a shift in the balance of power from North County teams such as the Hazelwood schools to newer West County sides, as well as those in St. Charles. In addition to new schools quickly forming teams (resulting in a brief experiment in tiered competition), several former clubs rejoined, including charter member Whitfield. Police presence at games was increased, alcohol was barred from the bleachers, and the league began to cooperate further with schools and encourage faculty/administrative presence at games to curb problems in student sections.

The new millennium presented MSCHA with a large set of opportunities: the St. Louis hockey scene was booming, with players such as the Stastny brothers Paul and Yan and goaltender Ben Bishop honing their NHL-bound skills on high school teams. The league had signed a television contract with local cable provider Charter Communications (via its CCIN channel), allowing both league and playoff games, including Finals, to be seen in homes around the area. However, a series of ugly incidents cast a shadow on this success, including a Priory skater being concussed from a late hit against Affton, further brawls among fans (most notably at Clayton-Ladue games, where the riot police has been called in several times), and a game where a Fort Zumwalt South player physically assaulted a referee, only to be hit back by the official. Two new post-season competitions were introduced, the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Cup and Founders Cup, both for teams that finished lower on the league ladder.