United States Premier Hockey League

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United States Premier Hockey League
United States Premier Hockey League.png
Sport Ice Hockey
Founded 2012
CEO Richard Gallant
Commissioner Jeff Nygaard
No. of teams 61 organizations
Country United States
Most recent
champion(s)
Islanders Hockey Club (Premier)
Charlotte Rush (Elite)
Florida Jr. Blades (USP3)
Official website USPHL.com

The United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) is an American ice hockey league. Founded in 2012, the USPHL has grown to over 60 organizations from across the United States fielding teams in Premier, Elite, 18U, 16U, 16U Futures, and High Performance Youth divisions.

From 2013 to 2017, USA Hockey sanctioned the Premier, Elite, Empire, Midwest, and USP3 Divisions as Tier III junior leagues. In 2017, the USPHL added a higher level junior league named the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) for the 2017–18 season. The NCDC was seeking free-to-play Tier II junior league sanctioning, but was denied by USA Hockey. In response, the USPHL junior level leagues withdrew from USA Hockey sanctioning altogether.[1] The 18U, 16U and 16U Futures divisions are still considered Tier I youth hockey divisions by USA Hockey.[2]

History[edit]

During the 2012–13 season, several organizations within the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL) decided to form their own league and created the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). Those organizations also added their youth programs under the USPHL name as the 18U and 16U divisions. The original Tier III junior teams were categorized in the Premier Division when the USPHL absorbed the Empire Junior Hockey League (becoming the Empire Division) and the newly formed Eastern Elite Hockey League (becoming the Elite Division). With the additions, the USPHL added 16 more organizations to the original 15 before the inaugural 2013–14 season. The formation of the USPHL also led the remaining EJHL teams to join the Atlantic Junior Hockey League and create the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

For the league's second season in 2014–15, the USPHL added the 16U Futures (16UF) Division[3] for players who aspire to play midget hockey, but are not yet ready for the 16U Division. Eight organizations fielded teams in the 16UF Division for its first season. During the 2014 off-season the USPHL lost the New York Applecore (Empire), but added the Providence Capitals (Elite & 16U), Jersey Shore Whalers (Empire), and the Richmond Generals (Elite, Empire) organizations to increase the total number of organizations to 35 headed into the 2014–15 season.

During the 2014–15 season, the USPHL announce the creation of a Midwest Division to begin in the 2015–16 season by adding several teams from the Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MnJHL).[4] By the end of the season, the Midwest Division would add all but one active MnJHL team causing the MnJHL to disband for the following season. On March 10, 2015, the USPHL also added the entire Midwest Junior Hockey League to its new Midwest Division for the 2015–16 season.[5] USPHL Midwest became the fourth Tier III division under the USPHL umbrella.

The changes for the 2015–16 continued into April when the New York Aviators announced their decision to leave the USPHL and join the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League (NA3EHL). The USPHL promptly reassigned the Aviator franchise to Rye, New York, and was renamed to the New York Dragons.[6] In early April 2015, the Empire Division would expand to Daytona, Florida with the Daytona Racers. Also in April, it was announced the Empire Division would be renamed as the USP3 Division. In late April 2015, the Charlotte Rush was announced as an expansion franchise by adding two teams, one in the Elite Division and one in the USP3. The Wooster Oilers from the former MnJHL decided against fielding two Tier III teams and dropped their membership in the USPHL Midwest and would only play in the North American 3 Hockey League. Initially announced with 22 member teams, the new Midwest Division saw a number of teams cease operations prior to the 2015–16 season including the Indiana Attack, Ironwood Fighting Yoopers, Minnesota Owls, Soo Firehawks, and St. Louis Storm due to lack of players. The Midwest Division did not have its own championship playoffs, but instead the top two teams in each conference from the Midwest and USP3 Divisions played for a single championship.

On January 14, 2016, the league announced the formation of a High Performance Youth Division for the upcoming 2016–17 season. The new division added 14 and under (Bantams), 12 and under (Peewees), along with 10 and under (Squirts) to the USPHL umbrella. Charter members of the High Performance Youth Division were to include the New Jersey Rockets, Hartford Junior Wolfpack, Jersey Hitmen, and P.A.L. Jr. Islanders. In late April, the USPHL announced that the Elite and USP3 Divisions were expanding by splitting the teams from the one-year-old Midwest Division into the Elite and USP3 platforms.[7] More changes came on May 20, 2016, when the USPHL added the four remaining teams from the former Northern Pacific Hockey League to the USP3 as a Pacific Division.[8] Before the start of the season, the loss of the Illiana Blackbirds (Elite), Michigan Wild (USP3), and Marquette Royales (USP3) was offset by the additions of Team Beijing (Elite), another team from the New York Aviators organization (Elite), and the return of the Ironwood Fighting Yoopers (USP3).

In October 2016, the USPHL announced it had applied to USA Hockey for approval to start a Tier II junior league for the 2017–18 season. The proposed Tier II USPHL division was announced to consist of 11 teams, seven from organizations in the USPHL Premier, the newly added Rochester Monarchs, and the Boston Bandits, New Jersey Rockets, and Northern Cyclones from the Eastern Hockey League.[9] At the time, the only USA Hockey-sanctioned Tier II league is the North American Hockey League. However, in December 2016, USA Hockey denied their application for a Tier II league.[10] The USPHL still intends to launch its tuition-free league and announced its name as the National Collegiate Development Conference.[11] In response, the USPHL dropped USA Hockey sanctioning from their junior level leagues and will operate unsanctioned for the 2017–18 season.[1]

In December 2016, the USPHL also announced the addition of six organizations from the Eastern Hockey League for the 2017–18 season: the previously mentioned Bandits, Rockets, and Cyclones would be joined by the Connecticut Nighthawks, Hartford Jr. Wolfpack, and New Hampshire Junior Monarchs. The New Hampshire Monarchs previously fielded USPHL teams in the youth levels. While the Bandits, Rockets and Cyclones have free-to-play teams in the new NCDC, all six organizations were announced to have Tier III teams in the Premier Division and five teams in the Elite Division.[12]

The league also announced the retirement of the USP3 Division, with the Premier Division remaining the top pay-to-play division and the Elite Division the only Tier III feeder division.[13] The Jersey Shore Whalers and the Florida Jr. Blades, both members of the former USP3 Division, were granted teams in the Premier Division, as well as the Jr. Blades adding their USP3 team to the Elite Division.[14][15] The Skipjacks Hockey Club also added a Premier team to augment their teams in the youth divisions. The Wisconsin Muskies also announced they would field an expansion team in the Premier division.

Member teams[edit]

National Collegiate Development Conference[edit]

Team Arena Location Joined
Boston Bandits Bridgewater Ice Arena Bridgewater, Massachusetts 2017
Boston Junior Bruins New England Sports Center Marlborough, Massachusetts 2017
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Chelsea Piers CT Stamford, Connecticut 2017
Islanders Hockey Club Lawler Arena Tyngsborough, Massachusetts 2017
Jersey Hitmen Ice Vault Arena Wayne, New Jersey 2017
New Jersey Rockets Prudential Center Newark, New Jersey 2017
Northern Cyclones Cyclones Arena Hudson, New Hampshire 2017
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Northwell Health Ice Center Hauppauge, New York 2017
Rochester Monarchs Rochester Ice Center Rochester, New York 2017
South Shore Kings Foxboro Sports Center Foxboro, Massachusetts 2017
Syracuse Stars Champions Skating Center Cicero, New York 2017

Junior and youth leagues[edit]

As of the 2017–18 season, the USPHL consists of Premier and Elite Junior divisions, as well as 18U, 16U, 16U Futures, and High Performance youth divisions with organizations located on the East Coast, Midwest, and Pacific Northwest United States.

Divisions as of June 16, 2017. HP Youth Divisions have not yet been announced

Team Location NCDC Affiliate Premier Elite 18U 16U 16U Futures HP Youth
Atlanta Junior Knights Marietta, Georgia Boston Bandits Southeast Southeast 16U Futures
Bay State Breakers Kingston, Massachusetts
Boston Bandits Bridgewater, Massachusetts Boston Bandits North North North
Boston Junior Bruins Marlborough, Massachusetts Boston Junior Bruins North North North North
Carolina Eagles Wake Forest, North Carolina Rochester Monarchs Southeast Southeast
Charlotte Rush Indian Trail, North Carolina Northern Cyclones Southeast Southeast
Chicago Cougars Chicago, Illinois Boston Bandits Midwest East
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Stamford, Connecticut Connecticut Jr. Rangers Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures
Connecticut Nighthawks Simsbury, Connecticut Jersey Hitmen Mid Atlantic North
CP Dynamo Clifton Park, New York North North In 2016–17
Daytona Racers Daytona, Florida Boston Junior Bruins Florida Florida
Decatur Blaze Decatur, Illinois P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Midwest East
Dells Ducks Lake Delton, Wisconsin New Jersey Rockets Midwest West
Detroit Fighting Irish Brownstown, Michigan Islanders Hockey Club Midwest East
Eugene Generals Eugene, Oregon Islanders Hockey Club Pacific
Florida Eels Fort Myers, Florida Islanders Hockey Club Florida Florida
Florida Jr. Blades Estero, Florida P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Florida Florida 16U Futures
(Jr. Everblades)
Hampton Roads Whalers Chesapeake, Virginia New Jersey Rockets 16U Futures
Hartford Jr. Wolfpack Cromwell, Connecticut South Shore Kings Mid Atlantic North North In 2016–17
Hudson Havoc Hudson, Wisconsin Boston Junior Bruins Midwest West
Ironwood Fighting Yoopers Ironwood, Michigan Northern Cyclones Midwest West
Islanders Hockey Club Tyngsborough, Massachusetts Islanders Hockey Club North North North North 16U Futures
Jersey Hitmen Wayne, New Jersey Jersey Hitmen Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures In 2016–17
Jersey Shore Whalers Brick, New Jersey Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures
Kalkaska Rhinos Kalkaska, Michigan Boston Junior Bruins Midwest East
Lightning Hockey Club Newark, Delaware P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Mid Atlantic
Metro Fighting Moose Brooklyn, New York Mid Atlantic
Minnesota Blue Ox Coon Rapids, Minnesota Midwest West
Minnesota Moose Blaine, Minnesota Midwest West
Minnesota Mullets Forest Lake, Minnesota Jersey Hitmen Midwest West
Motor City Hawks Grosse Pointe Woods, Michigan South Shore Kings Midwest East
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs Hooksett, New Hampshire Connecticut Jr. Rangers North North North North 16U Futures
New Jersey Rockets Berkeley Heights, New Jersey New Jersey Rockets Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures In 2016–17
New York Aviators Brooklyn, New York Rochester Monarchs Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures In 2016–17
Northern Cyclones Hudson, New Hampshire Northern Cyclones North North North North 16U Futures
Okanagan European Eagles Foxborough, Massachusetts
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Hauppauge, New York P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures In 2016–17
Palm Beach Hawks Lake Worth, Florida Connecticut Jr. Rangers Florida Florida
Potomac Patriots Woodbridge, Virginia Syracuse Stars Southeast Southeast South 16U Futures In 2016–17
Richmond Generals Richmond, Virginia Jersey Hitmen Southeast Southeast In 2016–17
Rochester Monarchs Rochester, New York Rochester Monarchs North North
Selects Academy South Kent, Connecticut South South
Skipjacks Hockey York, Pennsylvania Boston Junior Bruins Mid Atlantic South South 16U Futures
South Shore Kings Foxboro, Massachusetts South Shore Kings North North North
Springfield Pics West Springfield, Massachusetts Northern Cyclones North North North North 16U Futures
Steele County Blades Owatonna, Minnesota New Jersey Rockets Midwest West
Syracuse Stars Cicero, New York Syracuse Stars North Mid Atlantic North North
Tampa Bay Juniors Wesley Chapel, Florida South Shore Kings Florida Florida
Team Beijing East Meadow, New York Mid Atlantic
Traverse City North Stars Traverse City, Michigan Rochester Monarchs Midwest East
Tri-City Ice Hawks Bay City, Michigan Syracuse Stars Midwest East
Westchester Express Westchester, New York In 2016–17
Wisconsin Muskies Spooner, Wisconsin Midwest West
Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Islanders Hockey Club Midwest West

Champions[edit]

Year Premier Division Elite Division USP3[a] 18U Division 16U Division 16U Futures Division
2013–14 Boston Jr. Bruins Springfield Jr. Pics Florida Jr. Blades Selects Academy Selects Academy
2014–15 Jersey Hitmen Boston Jr. Bruins New York Aviators Jersey Hitmen Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Carolina Eagles
2015–16 Jersey Hitmen Hampton Roads Whalers Dells Ducks[b] Selects Academy Selects Academy Potomac Patriots[16]
2016–17 Islanders Hockey Club Charlotte Rush Florida Jr. Blades P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Selects Academy Jersey Hitmen[17]
  1. ^ Formerly called Empire Division from 2013 to 2015
  2. ^ 2016 Championship series was held between the new Midwest Division and the USP3 Division for a single champion won by the Midwest's Dells Ducks

Former teams[edit]

  • Adirondack Jr. Wings— (2013–15, Empire/16U/16U Futures Divisions) Team ceased operations prior to 2015–16 season; also fielded youth teams for one more season.[18][19]
  • Alpena Flyers— (2014–17, Midwest/USP3 Divisions) Team ceased operations following the end of the 2016–17 season.[20]
  • Bay State Breakers— (2013–15, Premier Division) Premier franchise sold to the Syracuse Stars organization; continues to field their Elite Division and youth teams.[21]
  • Blaine Energy— (2015–17, Midwest/Elite Divisions) Formerly in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League as the Maple Grove Energy; ceased operations at the end of the 2016–17 season.
  • Brewster Bulldogs— (2013–15, Empire Division) Formerly in the Empire Junior Hockey League; continues to field their EHL 19U Elite team that was formerly in Metropolitan Junior Hockey League until 2016.
  • Florida Bulldogs— (2013–15, Elite Division) Formerly called the Space Coast Jr. Hurricanes when the organization joined from the Eastern Elite Hockey League and for the 2013–14 USPHL season; merged with the Roswell Bulldogs organization in April 2014 and played under that name for the 2014–15 season; renamed Florida Bulldogs prior to the 2015–16 season but ceased operation due to lack of players after one game, an 8-2 loss to the Palm Beach Hawks.[22]
  • Forest Lake Lakers— (2015–17, Midwest/Elite Divisions) Formerly in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League; team sold and renamed Minnesota Mullets after the 2016–17 season.
  • Frederick Freeze– (2013–16, Empire/USP3 Division) Formerly in the Empire Junior Hockey League, removed from USP3 schedule in September 2016.
  • Illiana Blackbirds– (2015–16, Midwest Division) Based out of Dyer, Indiana; joined from the Minnesota Junior Hockey League in 2015; merged into the Elite Division for 2016–17 but ceased operations prior to scheduling.
  • Indiana Attack— Announced team for 2015–16 season in the Midwest Division; formerly the Fort Wayne Federals of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League; canceled their opening night game against the Alpena Flyers one day before it was scheduled and ceased operations.[23]
  • Jersey Wildcats— (2013–15, Empire Division) Formerly in the Empire Junior Hockey League; continued to field a team in the North American 3 Atlantic Hockey League (formerly called the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League) from 2015 to 2017.
  • Marquette Royales– (2015–16, Midwest Division) Formerly in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League, moved to the USP3 Division in 2016 but was removed from the schedule prior to the 2016–17 season.
  • Michigan Wild– (2015–16, Midwest Division) Joined from the Midwest Junior Hockey League as the Michigan Ice Dogs but were renamed the Wild prior to their first season in the USPHL; joined the USP3 Division in 2016 but were removed from the schedule less than one week before the start of the season.
  • Minnesota Owls— Announced team for 2015–16 season in the Midwest Division; formerly in the Minnesota Junior Hockey League; took leave of absence prior to first season.[24]
  • New York Apple Core— (2013–14, Empire Division) Formerly in the Empire Junior Hockey League; continues to field their Eastern Hockey League teams.
  • New York Aviators— (2013–15, Empire Division) The organization decided to play in the North American 3 Eastern Hockey League and the Empire franchise was reassigned to the New York Dragons. The Aviators returned to the USPHL with an Elite Division and youth teams in 2016. The former NA3EHL team became the Long Island Sharks in the North American 3 Hockey League.
  • New York Dragons– Announced team for the 2015–16 season in the USP3 Division with the franchise rights from the previous New York Aviators but appears to have dropped from the division prior to the season.
  • Philadelphia Flyers Junior Hockey Club– (2013–17, Premier Division) An expansion team and founding member of the USPHL Premier. Sold to the Lightning Hockey Club and relocated to Newark, Delaware, in 2017.[25]
  • Portland Jr. Pirates— (2013–16, Premier/Elite/18U Divisions) Based out of Saco, Maine. Not listed by USPHL in 2016 but continues to operate youth hockey programs outside the USPHL umbrella.
  • Providence Capitals— (2014–16, Elite/18U/16U Divisions)
  • River Falls Renegades— (2016–17, Elite Division) Former SCV Magicians, were not listed in the league membership for 2017–18.[26]
  • Rochester Jr. Americans— (2013–16, Premier/Elite/18U Divisions) Replaced by the Rochester Monarchs organization.
  • SCV Magicians— (2015–16, Midwest Division) Joined as the Hudson Crusaders of Hudson, Wisconsin, from the Minnesota Junior Hockey League in 2015; rebranded prior to their first season in the USPHL and relocated mid-season to Vadnais Heights, Minnesota; relocated again in 2016 to become the River Falls Renegades in River Falls, Wisconsin.
  • Seattle Ravens — (2016–17, USP3 Division); Joined from the Northern Pacific Hockey League for the 2016–17 season; Left the league in 2017, rebranded as the Kent Ravens and joined the Western States Hockey League.
  • Soo Firehawks— Announced team for 2015–16 season in the Midwest Division; formerly in the Midwest Junior Hockey League; ceased operations prior to first season.[27]
  • St. Louis Storm— Announced team for 2015–16 season in the Midwest Division; formerly the St. Louis Frontenacs of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League; ceased operations prior to first season.[28]
  • Team Comcast— (2014–15, 18U/16U Divisions) Youth teams associated with the Philadelphia Flyers Junior Hockey Club. In March 2016, was renamed Virtua Hockey[29] and joined the Atlantic Youth Hockey League.
  • Traverse City Hounds— (2015–16, Midwest Division) Joined from the Midwest Junior Hockey League in 2015; renamed Traverse City North Stars after the former NAHL team in 2016.
  • Tri-City Outlaws— (2016–17, USP3 Division) Joined from the Northern Pacific Hockey League for the 2016–17 season; not listed as a member of the USPHL for the 2017–18 season.
  • West Sound Warriors— (2016–17, USP3 Division) Joined from the Northern Pacific Hockey League for the 2016–17 season; suspended operations in 2017. The Vancouver Rangers of the WSHL relocated to Bremerton and became the West Sound Warriors for the 2017–18 season.[30]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "DAILY DISH: USA HOCKEY ANNUAL CONGRESS". Junior Hockey News. June 6, 2017. 
  2. ^ "USA Hockey agrees to sanction USPHL, major eastern mergers". Junior Hockey News. 6 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "USPHL announces 16U Futures Division". Adirondack Junior Wings. 7 March 2014. 
  4. ^ "Minnesota Junior Hockey League gets a shakeup". Post Bulletin. 18 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Midwest Junior Hockey League Joins USPHL Mid-West Junior Hockey Division". USPHL. 10 March 2015. 
  6. ^ "Weekly Sports League and Franchise Report". OurSports Central. April 27, 2015. 
  7. ^ "USPHL Expands Elite and USP3 Divisions for 2016-17 Season". USPHL. April 28, 2016. 
  8. ^ "West Coast Teams Join Nation’s Top College Development League (USPHL)". USPHL. May 20, 2016. 
  9. ^ "USPHL Announces New Tuition Free Hockey Division for 2017-18 Season". Junior Hockey News. October 6, 2016. 
  10. ^ "DAILY DISH: USPHL-NAHL Showdown? Yea Right". Junior Hockey News. December 5, 2016. 
  11. ^ "National Collegiate Development Conference Officially Launches For 2017-18". Junior Hockey News. December 15, 2016. 
  12. ^ "USPHL Consolidating Tier III Junior Hockey in the East". USPHL. December 22, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference the logical next step for USPHL". USA Junior Hockey Magazine. January 7, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Jersey Shore Whalers Revamp for 2017-18 USPHL Season". USPHL. February 15, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Florida Jr. Blades Announce Expansion Plans for 2017-18 USPHL Season". USPHL. February 10, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Week Twenty-Five – Seven Things to Know". USPHL. February 16, 2016. 
  17. ^ "Jersey Hitmen Win 16U Futures USPHL Championship". USPHL. February 20, 2017. 
  18. ^ "PAL Junior Islanders Partner With Adirondack Jr Wings". Junior Hockey News. March 4, 2015. 
  19. ^ "THE DEATH POOL – SPECIAL REPORT – ADIRONDACK JR RED WINGS SHUT DOWN EMPIRE TEAM". The Junior Hockey News. August 27, 2015. 
  20. ^ "The Death Pool: Alpena Flyers have Wings Clipped". The Junior Hockey News. April 24, 2017. 
  21. ^ "Okanagan Hockey Club Europe to play USPHL Premier". USPHL. May 7, 2015. 
  22. ^ "THE DEATH POOL – SPECIAL REPORT – FLORIDA BULLDOGS HAVE BEEN PUT TO SLEEP". The Junior Hockey News. September 22, 2015. 
  23. ^ "THE DEATH POOL – SPECIAL REPORT – INDIANA ATTACK TAKE BULLET TO THE HEAD". The Junior Hockey News. September 10, 2015. 
  24. ^ "The puck stops here: No 2015-2016 season for Minnesota Owls". Isanti-Chisago County Star. 24 September 2015. 
  25. ^ "Delaware Hockey LLC Purchases Philadelphia Flyers Premier Team". USPHL. May 1, 2017. 
  26. ^ "USPHL Midwest Teams Expected to Dominate Junior Hockey Ranks". USPHL. June 1, 2017. 
  27. ^ "Soo Firehawks Cease Operations". Soo Firehawks. August 20, 2015. 
  28. ^ "THE DEATH POOL – SPECIAL REPORT – ST. LOUIS STORM FRIED BY LIGHTNING STRIKE". The Junior Hockey News. August 21, 2015. 
  29. ^ "Virtua to Put Name on Tier I and II Youth Hockey Club at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone". Team Comcast. March 29, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Recap from the Annual WSHL Meetings". WSHL. June 2, 2017. 

External links[edit]