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USPHL Announces Reschedule Dates For 2020 NCDC Combines

By Joshua Boyd 05/11/2020, 6:00pm EDT

The United States Premier Hockey League, and its Tier-II, Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC), has announced its reschedule dates for the 2020 Combine Series.

The Chicago Combine will take place June 13-14, and the Detroit Combine will take place June 25-26. The Chicago Combine will be held at a newly announced location: the Midwest Training and Ice Center at 10600 White Oak Ave. in Dyer, Indiana, located 45 minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. The Detroit Combine will remain at Fraser Hockeyland (34400 Utica Rd.) in Fraser, Mich., located 40 minutes from Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport. There are still limited openings for each Combine, but register today as these spots will fill up fast. Goaltender spots for both Combines are filled, but goalies can request to be on a wait list.

Register for the 2020 Combine Series at USPHL.com/Combines

The NCDC Combine Series will feature on-ice game play, as well as opportunities for players to meet coaches from NCDC and USPHL Premier teams and inquire about openings for the 2020-21 season.

The USPHL is committed to holding its events with the health and safety of all players as its top priority, while following all Local, State and Federal guidelines in place. The format of each Combine is also to be determined, based upon these health considerations amid the fluid health situation due to the coronavirus/Covid-19 pandemic.

About The USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2020-21 will be the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada. The USPHL will field approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20. Overall, across all of its divisions, the USPHL had more than 1,200 alumni playing college hockey in 2019-20 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL. Learn more at USPHL.com and BestPlayHere.com

The United States Premier Hockey League will approach its eighth season of operations with the same mission as when it opened play in 2013: Provide the best hockey development model within a framework that maximizes exposure to college hockey coaches. The USPHL will continue its player development success long after the present-day coronavirus/COVD-19 pandemic passes, as the league’s finances are not by and large tied to ticket sales and corporate sponsorships. Most of the USPHL’s ownership groups not only own their teams, but also own the rinks in which these teams operate, creating the perfect hybrid of top-flight facilities and high-intensity hockey.

The USPHL’s “Players First” approach has proven among the greatest hockey success stories of the last decade, as the league has sent more than 2,500 players to college hockey and over 250 on to pro hockey, including the NHL. This will continue as the USPHL nears the 10-year mark, and as the Tier-2 Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference opens its fourth year of operations.

“The Rink Ownership model of the USPHL organizations eliminates the need for a fan-based economic model and the uncertainty that comes along with the potential revenue deficiencies of a decreasing fan base,” said Commissioner and Islanders Hockey Club owner Richard Gallant.

“The USPHL business model includes large scale team programs, a host of other on-ice rink programing revenues and other ancillary offerings like concessions, which allows the USPHL programs to invest with surety in the league’s player development model,” Gallant added.

“When the rinks reopen this summer under new social distancing guidelines, the USPHL owners can guarantee their teams will be back in business.”

“Owning the rink means that you can determine your own destiny, and not be beholden to any facility,” added fellow Executive Committee member Bobby Reiss, owner of the Jersey Hitmen and the Ice Vault, of Wayne, N.J. Team-and-rink ownership groups across the league - from its Youth divisions to the Tier-2 Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC) - are able to focus solely on development of the player as they improve their game amongst college-worthy amenities, without having to worry about ice times, rink contracts and other business-related distractions.

“From a financial standpoint, the USPHL is in great shape to weather any storm, because our model is not based on ticket sales or advertising,” said Peter Masters, of the USPHL’s Executive Committee, and also co-owner of the Boston Junior Bruins. “We are funded by each organization.”

Cradle To College

A great number of those organizations - including all 12 organizations fielding teams for 2020-21 in the NCDC - operate several teams at different levels ranging from Youth to Junior. It creates a true “Cradle To College” model for players to follow, often under one roof. “The USPHL has created a model where families can start in a particular rink from Learn to Skate to Youth Hockey to Midget and Junior and not have to move anywhere. We are the only junior league in North American that is able to offer something like that, at that scale,” Masters said. “It has created within our league a great sense of continuity. Our parents feel extremely comfortable after being involved for years with one organization from one level to the next.”

With Reiss’ ownership of both the youth-to-junior Hitmen program and the program’s home facility, he has all the tools at his disposal to make it a perfect one-stop shop for a lifetime of hockey development. “The NCDC Hitmen team is the crown jewel of our organization and the building, but we also have a Tier-2 program. Everyone who starts out with our Tier-2 New Jersey Bandits get to see the Hitmen in the building and they can aspire to become part of the Hitmen,” said Reiss. “When those Hitmen players are in the building, there is a certain swagger. The younger kids want to be around them.” When a player makes the Hitmen, they can also look forward to the red-carpet treatment, which is easier to provide when the rink and team owner are one and the same. “We schedule our own facility, so that if we are going to have a big NCDC game, we can staff the bar and restaurant accordingly. The players skate out to center ice with a light show, and you have your National Anthem. You coordinate everything,” Reiss added. “When we built our newest rink, Rink 3, we built it with the Hitmen in mind. Their locker room is excellent, and we also built new office space. If we did not own the Hitmen and the Ice Vault, our investment in the building of that rink would not have been close to what it was.”

In Sewell, N.J., Tom Mackey’s co-ownership of the Hollydell Ice Arena and Philadelphia Hockey Club was also instrumental in creating a top-of-the-line facility with an NCDC hockey team in mind. Hollydell Ice Arena has nearly 5,000 square feet of new locker room space, with more than 1,800 of that dedicated solely to the NCDC team. “I bought the rink in August of 2017 and proceeded to gut most of the facility. I didn’t know if we were going to field an NCDC team, but I had a good idea of where I wanted us to be,” said Mackey, in a recent article on USPHL.com.

The One-Stop Hockey Shop

“Our whole model has been based on creating a one-stop shop to develop hockey players, with all of the on-and off-ice amenities where they could develop from Youth to Midget to NCDC,” Mackey added. Whether it is the NCDC in the Northeastern U.S., or the USPHL Premier which has a 24-state footprint including several college-heavy Midwestern areas, the USPHL is in prime position for success with its proximity to NCAA colleges to attract college hockey coaches and scouts for recruiting. Being in largely hockey-heavy areas, USPHL teams can recruit some of the best talent within their backyard.

Rink ownership plays a key role in this recruiting process, as players often must balance the desire to remain home with family against the desire for the best developmental environment.

“There is a lot of anxiety in sending your child out of area and out of the house for the first time in general,” said Masters. “There’s also a lot of anxiety and concern with placing your son’s season and career in the hands of people whom you’ve never met before and with whom you have no relationship. A lot of the families involved with the Junior Bruins at the junior level have been involved at the youth level as well, so that level of anxiety is minimized.”

The USPHL owners pride themselves on operating an organization and facility that embraces a family-like atmosphere. “When a new family comes in that is joining our team, they don’t just meet our NCDC coaches [Toby Harris and Jim Hunt], but they meet the ownership as well,” said Reiss. “We show them the rink, and how we really make all of our own stuff, from the logos to the apparel. No other rink in America does it quite like that. Sam Walton, the owner of Wal-Mart, once said ‘Exceed your customers’ expectations and you’ll be very successful.’ In hockey, if you exceed your customers’ expectations, they want to be part of your organization. They will enjoy being here.”

“The league is positioned financially to be extremely stable, especially going into our fourth year of Tuition-Free hockey, and our entire group is getting better at the process of recruiting and delivering the services that Elite players are looking for,” added Masters. “I’m extremely excited about the direction of the league.”

About The USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2020-21 will be the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada. 

The USPHL will field approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20.

Overall, across all of its divisions, the USPHL had more than 1,200 alumni playing college hockey in 2019-20 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.

USPHL 2020-2021 Western Expansion

By Joshua Boyd 04/29/2020, 4:15pm EDT

The United States Premier Hockey League will span the entire continental United States in 2020-21. The USPHL is welcoming the Fresno MonstersSan Diego SabersAnaheim AvalancheUtah OutliersSouthern Oregon SpartansLas Vegas ThunderbirdsPueblo Bulls, Northern Colorado Eagles, and Ogden Mustangs. 

The new teams give the USPHL Premier Division a presence in 24 of the lower 48 states for 2020-21, the largest footprint for any junior league in the United States. The new teams will form two new distinct conferences of the USPHL Premier and are designed to provide more time on the ice and in the classroom while keeping travel costs manageable within their region.

To benefit from the unparalleled USPHL Showcase Series and the college exposure it provides, these teams will make at least one trip to the East Coast for showcase games and each Conference will have representation at the USPHL National Championships. Announcements regarding additional members to the new USPHL West Coast Conferences will be made in the coming weeks. Anyone interested in joining this group or the USPHL should reach out to the USPHL League Office at info@USPHL.com.   

Applications are still being accepted for the 2020-2021 season.

 

Introducing the newest Member Organizations of the USPHL:

Fresno Monsters: Founded in 2009, the Monsters have won five division championships. They skate at Selland Arena in downtown Fresno, which seats up to 7,600 for hockey. The Monsters have been known to bring in 12,000 fans for a three-game weekend. Alumni could be found playing this season at NCAA Division III colleges including SUNY-Fredonia, Castleton University and St. Scholastica. 

Website: www.fresnomonsters.com 

San Diego Sabers: The Sabers join the USPHL under Olympian, NHL Draft pick, and former AHL, Finnish and Czech pro player Tomas Kapusta. The Sabers will continue operation at the Iceplex, located in Escondido, Calif. The Sabers organization is focused on, and has been very successful in, players’ development and advancement. Players from all over the world are joining Sabers to obtain the best hockey experience possible in the attractive San Diego Area known for its beaches, parks, and warm climate.

Website: www.sandiegosabershockey.com

Anaheim Avalanche: The Avalanche entered their previous league in 2012-13 as the former Ontario Avalanche. The Avs moved to Anaheim in 2019, moving into the NHL Ducks’ former practice facility, The Rinks-Anaheim Ice. The Avalanche have made the playoffs each year since 2014, reaching the league semifinals that year. Alumni have moved directly to NCAA III teams such as SUNY-Canton and Curry College. 

Website: www.anaheimavalanche.com

Utah Outliers: The Outliers started play in 2016-17. The team has crossed the 30-win mark in each of its first four seasons and has finished first or second in its division each season. The Outliers are run by Paul Taylor and Kevin McCloskey, who have helped send more than a dozen alumni to the NCAA Division III ranks. 

Website: www.utahoutliers.com 

Southern Oregon Spartans: The Spartans were the final Northern Pacific Hockey League champion in 2012, the year they joined the WSHL. The Spartans have had several successful teams, attracting the attention of college and pro scouts from around the world. Five alumni were playing minor pro hockey in North America, with many other former players skating in Europe. The Spartans home arena, The RRRink located in Medford, Ore., has been dubbed by opposing teams as “The Medford Madhouse.” The Spartans host over 20,000 fans per season.

Website: www.sospartans.com

Las Vegas Thunderbirds: It’s no wonder the Las Vegas Thunderbirds had a successful inaugural campaign with 26 wins in 2019-20. Their President, John Marks, is one of the most successful coaches in North American pro hockey. In addition to joining the USPHL, the Thunderbirds are excited to begin practicing and playing their home games at City National Arena, which is also the practice facility for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. 

Website: www.lvtbirdshockey.com

Pueblo Bulls: The Bulls were a brand-new franchise for 2019-20 and they put together an impressive 32-win campaign in their inaugural season. They also have a great fan base, selling out the 870-seat Pueblo Ice Arena seven times this past season with an average attendance of over 770 fans. Their head coach Chris Wilhite, a product of NCAA Saint Mary’s University, began his coaching career this past season. The Pueblo Bulls are happy to be moving several Bulls Alumni on to playing NCAA next year. 

Website: www.pueblobullshockey.com

Northern Colorado Eagles: The Eagles have hit the 30-win mark in four of their last five seasons and have never finished below .500 since joining the WSHL in 2013 as a new franchise. They reached the league finals in 2015-16. GM/Head Coach Steve Haddon joined as the first head coach after playing eight professional seasons with the Colorado Eagles, currently of the AHL. Seven alumni played NCAA Division III hockey in 2019-20. Since their inception, the organization has helped advance 70 players on to the collegiate and professional levels.

Website: www.northerncoloradoeagles.com

About The Ogden Mustangs
Since their inception in 2012, the Mustangs have won no less than 31 games per season, hitting an all-time high of 47 in 2018-19. The Mustangs have consistently seen alumni move on to NCAA opportunities with one of last year’s highlights being Matus Spodniak's commitment to NCAA Division I American International College. Spodniak is one of more than 20 alumni playing NCAA hockey in 2019-20. 

Websitewww.ogdenmustangs.com

About The USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League of 2020-2021 will be the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada.  The USPHL will field approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20.  

Overall, across all of its divisions, the USPHL had more than 1,200 alumni playing college hockey in 2019-20 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL. 

Eastern Women's Development Camp Announces Camp Dates

By Eugene Binda 04/26/2020, 4:15pm EDT

IMPORTANT NOTE: As of today, this camp is scheduled to take place. We are constantly monitoring the situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. The health and safety of camp participants is paramount to us making any decision regarding the camp.

After a successful inaugural camp in 2019, the USA Hockey Referee-in-Chiefs in Atlantic, New England, New York and Massachusetts Districts are excited to announce the 2020 Eastern Women’s Development camp will take place in Marlborough, Massachusetts on ​July 16-19, 2020. ​This camp is part of the commitment to educational excellence for women’s ice hockey officials.

The camp provides both classroom instruction from current and former NCAA Officials and live game experience in the three and four official systems followed by feedback using video review with a focus on development.

Following the 2019 camp, 20 officials that attended were assigned by junior and college hockey leagues at both the Division 1 and 3 levels. There will be NCAA Division 1 supervisors from the College Hockey Association, ECAC Hockey, and the New England Women's Hockey Alliance in addition to USA Hockey supervisors from the east coast districts.

The camp is open to female officials at least 18 years old from the Atlantic, New England, New York and Massachusetts USA Hockey districts. There is no cost to attend the camp, housing and meals will be provided. Selected officials are responsible for transportation to the camp. Attendance satisfies the USA Hockey seminar requirement for the 2020-2021 season.

Selection for the camp will be based on the completed application, experience in women’s hockey, and the official’s goals in women’s hockey. The selected officials will be notified by ​June 1, 2020​.

The application can be found at: ​https://forms.gle/t7bcu4GWMGSZz7f16 Applications are due by ​May 15, 2020.

For additional information please contact Camp Directors the Eugene Binda at​ t​ournaments@refcrease.com​ or Bryan Hicks at ​bhicks@ecachockey.com​.

The Metro Jets have a longstanding tradition of team success, as well as moving players on to not only college programs, but programs where players can excel, both on and off the ice.

This past week, Jets captain Brodie Thornton committed to play for Adrian College, a team that won an NCAA National Championship in 2018 with several former Jets players on the roster.

“The campus stood out to me when I visited and the school is only two hours away (in Adrian, Mich.),” said Thornton, a Clinton Township, Mich., native now in his third season with the Jets. “It’s a relief to make this commitment and a really good opportunity for the next four years. I hope to fit in really well as a freshman next fall.”

With the Jets, Thornton’s game has developed so much that the coaching staff can use him up front or on the back end and knows it will get similar results.

“We have known Brodie since his youth days,” Jets coach-GM Justin Quenneville said. “He is everything in a player and person that coaches want. His family is full of awesome people who have done a lot in our hockey community. To see Brodie develop, grow and succeed to this level has been a blessing these last few years. He’s has developed into one of the best versatile players in the country.

“Brodie had an unprecedented amount of NCAA options, but it the end, he felt Adrian was the best fit for him. A top program is getting a top player. We are proud of him and wish him and his family nothing but the best.”

Thornton was a rookie on the 2017-18 Jets team that captured its fourth national championship and wants to close out his junior career the way it started.

“Growing up playing hockey for the Metro Jets, I have learned to respect and to view things from all perspectives,” said Thornton, who turns 21 on April 6. “I appreciate the opportunities coaches gave me and came to realize the sacrifices they made to enable me to promote my skills on and off the ice. I will have to thank all coaches of the Jets (Quenneville, associate head coach Jamie Lovell and assistants Randy Wilson and Dan Pszenyczny) and our staff from ownership to the game-night and front office people.”

“I also want to thank my closest friends and family members for knowing how much passion I have for the game and knowing to support me all the way.”

Read the full story on MetroJetsHockey.com!

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