The Chicago Cougars, a Tier III Junior Hockey team, will play its inaugural season in the USPHL Mid-West Division. Led by Head Coach and General Manager, Brad Stoffer, the Cougars will call the 9,000 seat Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates home while also competing at the Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee, IL.
Chicago Cougars ownership group is comprised of Joe Dibble, Head Coach/GM of the NAHLs Janesville Jets, Chicago native, Craig Anderson, goaltender for the Ottawa Senators, and John Schwarz, owner of the Dells Ducks and Wisconsin Riverkings. Schwarz’s vision of helping young players move on to college hockey has come to fruition as over 60 players from his Dells Ducks (4 years) and Wisconsin Riverkings (1 season) teams have moved on to the next level of hockey. In those four seasons, the Ducks have earned two trips to the USA Hockey Junior National tournament and in 2015 the Ducks won the Minnesota Junior Hockey Leagues Bush Cup as league champions.
“With the addition of the Chicago Cougars there will be more opportunity than ever for local players to continue developing their talents and earn opportunities to play college hockey and beyond”, says Schwarz. “Owning a team in close proximity to Janesville will allow players a unique experience to work closely with a NAHL organization”.
The Cougars name is not new to Chicago hockey. From 1972-1975 the Chicago Cougars were an original franchise in the World Hockey Association (WHA), playing their home games at the International Amphitheater. In their final season, after finishing fourth in the division, the Cougars advanced to the division finals against the Toronto Toros.
The United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL) was founded in 2012 after a merger of a number of east coast hockey leagues. With over 60 organizations from all across the Eastern Seaboard, including the new Midwest Division, the USPHL is the largest junior hockey organization in the country, made up of the Premier, Elite, US3PHL, U18 and U16 divisions.