United States Premier Hockey League
United States Premier Hockey League.png
SportIce Hockey
Founded2012
CommissionerBob Turow[1]
CountryUnited States
Most recent
champion(s)
Jersey Hitmen (NCDC)
Rockets Hockey Club (Premier)
Richmond Generals (Elite)
Official websiteUSPHL.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 the National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC), Premier, Elite, EHF, 18U, 16U, 15U, 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.[2] The 18U, 16U and 15U divisions are still considered Tier I youth hockey divisions by USA Hockey.[3]

History

Establishment (2013–2017)

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[4] 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).[5] 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.[6] 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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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).

League realignment (2017–present)

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.[10] 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.[11] The USPHL launched its tuition-free league as the National Collegiate Development Conference.[12] In response, the USPHL dropped USA Hockey sanctioning from their junior level leagues and operates unsanctioned beginning with the 2017–18 season.[2]

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.[13] The Jr. Monarchs would also add a NCDC team in 2018.

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.[14] 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.[15][16] 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. As part of the many changes, three of the four isolated former USP3 Pacific Division teams left the league with only the Eugene Generals remaining. The Generals would have a modified schedule for the season in the Elite Division playing most of their games against local youth and academy teams while only playing other USPHL teams in showcases.[17]

For 2018–19, the league merged with the Eastern Hockey Federation (EHF) youth leagues. The EHF organization already had many of the USPHL's junior organization's youth clubs.[18] The league also rebranded its 16U Futures as 15U. On March 8, 2019, the USPHL and EHF announced plans to integrate the USPHL's High Performance Youth Division into the EHF to create the EHF South Division, expanding the youth league's footprint into the Mid-Atlantic region, beginning with the 2019–20 season.[19]

In 2020, the USPHL Premier added the Anaheim Avalanche, Fresno Monsters, Las Vegas Thunderbirds, Northern Colorado Eagles, Ogden Mustangs, Pueblo Bulls, San Diego Sabers, Southern Oregon Spartans, and the Utah Outliers from the Western States Hockey League, another independent junior hockey organization.[20][21] Complimentary additions to the USPHL Premier included Elmira Jr. Enforcers, Provo Riverblades, and the return of the Wooster Oilers after a one-year absence.

During the 2019–20 season the Boston Bandits NCDC membership was purchased by the Philadelphia Hockey Club, to replace the Bandits in 2020–21.[22] Rochester Monarchs were removed and replaced by Boston Advantage for the 2020–21 season.[23]

For the 2022–23 season, several new teams joined the USPHL. The Mercer Chiefs joined the NCDC.[24] The Bakersfield Roughnecks joined the Pacific Division in the USPHL Premier.[25] The Idaho Falls Spud Kings joined the Mountain Division in the USPHL Premier.[26] The Minnesota Squatch joined the Midwest West Division in the USPHL Premier.[27] Finally, several former teams from the WSHL—the Bellingham Blazers, Rock Springs Prospectors, Rogue Valley Royals, Seattle Totems, and Vernal Oilers—created a new North West Division in the USPHL Premier.[28]

Member teams

National Collegiate Development Conference

Team Location Arena Joined
Boston Advantage Hingham, Massachusetts Pilgrim Skating Arena 2020
Boston Junior Bruins Marlborough, Massachusetts New England Sports Center 2017
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Stamford, Connecticut Chelsea Piers Connecticut 2017
Islanders Hockey Club North Andover, Massachusetts Lawler Arena 2017
Jersey Hitmen Wayne, New Jersey Ice Vault Arena 2017
Mercer Chiefs Hamilton, New Jersey ProSkate Arena 2022
New Hampshire Junior Monarchs Hooksett, New Hampshire Tri-Town Ice Arena 2018
New Jersey Rockets Bridgewater, New Jersey Bridgewater Sports Arena 2017
Northern Cyclones Hudson, New Hampshire Cyclones Arena 2017
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Hauppauge, New York Northwell Health Ice Center 2017
South Shore Kings Foxboro, Massachusetts Foxboro Sports Center 2017
Utica Jr. Comets Utica, New York Adirondack Bank Center[29] 2017
Twin City Thunder Auburn, Maine Norway Savings Bank Arena 2019
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Pittston, Pennsylvania Revelution Ice Center 2022

Premier and Elite teams

The USPHL consists of Premier and Elite junior levels, as well as EHF Selects, EHF South, 18U, 16U, 15U, and High Performance youth divisions with organizations located across the United States.

Team Location Premier Elite NCDC affiliate
Atlanta Madhatters Marietta, Georgia Florida Florida
Bakersfield Roughnecks Bakersfield, California Pacific
Battle Creek Kernels Battle Creek, Michigan Midwest East
Bellingham Blazers Bellingham, Washington North West
Boston Advantage Hingham, Massachusetts New England
Boston Junior Bruins Marlborough, Massachusetts New England North Boston Junior Bruins
Bridgewater Bandits Bridgewater, Massachusetts New England North
Buffalo Stampede Lockport, New York Mid Atlantic
Carolina Jr. Hurricanes Morrisville, North Carolina Southeast Southeast
Charlotte Rush Pineville, North Carolina Southeast Southeast Northern Cyclones
Chicago Cougars West Dundee, Illinois Midwest East
Chicago Crush Chicago, Illinois Midwest East
Cincinnati Jr. Cyclones Cincinnati, Ohio Great Lakes
Columbia Infantry Irmo, South Carolina Florida Florida
Columbus Mavericks Lewis Center, Ohio Great Lakes
Connecticut Jr. Rangers Stamford, Connecticut Mid Atlantic Connecticut Jr. Rangers
Decatur Blaze Decatur, Illinois Midwest East P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Dells Ducks Lake Delton, Wisconsin Midwest West New Jersey Rockets
Elmira Jr. Enforcers Elmira, New York Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic
Florida Eels Fort Myers, Florida Florida Florida Islanders Hockey Club
Florida Jr. Blades Estero, Florida Florida Florida P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Fort Wayne Spacemen Fort Wayne, Indiana Midwest East
Fresno Monsters Fresno, California Pacific
Hampton Roads Whalers Chesapeake, Virginia Southeast Southeast New Jersey Rockets
Hershey Cubs Hershey, Pennsylvania Mid Atlantic
Hudson Havoc Hudson, Wisconsin Midwest West Boston Junior Bruins
Idaho Falls Spud Kings Idaho Falls, Idaho Mountain
Isanti Outlaws Isanti, Minnesota Midwest West Utica Jr. Comets
Islanders Hockey Club Tyngsborough, Massachusetts New England North Islanders Hockey Club
Jersey Hitmen Wayne, New Jersey Mid Atlantic Mid-Atlantic Jersey Hitmen
Lake Tahoe Lakers South Lake Tahoe, California Pacific
Las Vegas Thunderbirds Summerlin South, Nevada Pacific Philadelphia Hockey Club
Long Beach Shredders Long Beach, California Pacific
Metro Jets Mount Clemens, Michigan Great Lakes Boston Junior Bruins
Metro Jets Development Program Mount Clemens, Michigan Midwest East
Minnesota Blue Ox Coon Rapids, Minnesota Midwest West New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs
Minnesota Moose Blaine, Minnesota Midwest West
Minnesota Mullets Forest Lake, Minnesota Midwest West Jersey Hitmen
Minnesota Squatch Elk River, Minnesota Midwest West
Motor City Gamblers Redford, Michigan Midwest East South Shore Kings
Nashville Spartans Nolensville, Tennessee Southeast Southeast
New Hampshire Jr. Monarchs Hooksett, New Hampshire New England Connecticut Jr. Rangers
New Jersey Rockets Berkeley Heights, New Jersey Mid Atlantic Mid-Atlantic New Jersey Rockets
New York Aviators Brooklyn, New York Mid Atlantic Mid-Atlantic
Northern Colorado Eagles Greeley, Colorado Mountain
Northern Cyclones Hudson, New Hampshire New England North Northern Cyclones
Ogden Mustangs Ogden, Utah Mountain
Ontario Jr. Reign Ontario, California Pacific
Palm Beach Typhoon Palm Beach, Florida Florida Florida
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Hauppauge, New York Mid Atlantic Mid Atlantic P.A.L. Jr. Islanders
Potomac Patriots Woodbridge, Virginia Southeast Southeast Utica Jr. Comets
Provo Riverblades Provo, Utah Mountain
Pueblo Bulls Pueblo, Colorado Mountain
Richmond Generals Richmond, Virginia Southeast Southeast Jersey Hitmen
Rock Springs Prospectors Rock Springs, Wyoming North West
Rouge Valley Royals Medford, Oregon North West
San Diego Sabers Carlsbad, California Pacific
Seattle Totems Mountlake Terrace, Washington North West
South Shore Kings Foxboro, Massachusetts New England South Shore Kings
Springfield Pics West Springfield, Massachusetts New England North Northern Cyclones
Steele County Blades Owatonna, Minnesota Midwest West New Jersey Rockets
Tampa Bay Juniors Wesley Chapel, Florida Florida Florida South Shore Kings
Toledo Cherokee Toledo, Ohio Great Lakes
Twin City Thunder Auburn, Maine New England
Utah Outliers West Valley City, Utah Mountain
Utica Jr. Comets Utica, New York Mid Atlantic Utica Jr. Comets
Vernal Oilers Vernal, Utah North West
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights Pittston, Pennsylvania Mid Atlantic Mid-Atlantic Hershey Cubs Hockey Club
Wisconsin Rapids Riverkings Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Midwest West Islanders Hockey Club

Champions

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[30]
2016–17 Islanders Hockey Club Charlotte Rush Florida Jr. Blades P.A.L. Jr. Islanders Selects Academy Jersey Hitmen[31]
Year NCDC Premier Division Elite Division 18U Division 16U Division 15U[c]
2017–18 Islanders Hockey Club Hampton Roads Whalers Hampton Roads Whalers Selects Academy Selects Academy Jersey Hitmen
2018–19 Boston Junior Bruins Hampton Roads Whalers Richmond Generals Selects Academy[32] Islanders Hockey Club[d]
Pittsburgh Vengeance[e]
Philadelphia Hockey Club[35]
2019–20 Not awarded due to the COVID-19 pandemic Jersey Hitmen[36] Rockets Hockey Club[f][37]
Springfield Pics[g][38]
Palmyra Black Knights[39]
2020–21 Jersey Hitmen Charlotte Rush[40] Charlotte Rush[41] Boston Junior Bruins[h][42]
Maine Moose[i][42]
Islanders Hockey Club[f][42]
Springfield Pics[g][42]
Jersey Hitmen[42]
2021–22 New Jersey Hitman Rockets Hockey Club Richmond Generals Skipjacks Hockey Club[h][43]
Connecticut Jr. Rangers[i][43]
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders[f][43]
Rockets Hockey Club[g][43]
P.A.L. Jr. Islanders[43]
  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
  3. ^ Also known as 16U Futures Division prior to the 2018–19 season.
  4. ^ Won the 16U Springfield Championship.[33]
  5. ^ Won the 16U Bridgewater Championship.[34]
  6. ^ a b c Won the 16U National Championship.
  7. ^ a b c Won the 16U American Championship.
  8. ^ a b Won the 18U National Championship.
  9. ^ a b Won the 18U American Championship.

Former teams

References

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