By Joshua Boyd / USPHLElite.com
The USPHL Midwest East Division, in conjunction with the United States Premier Hockey League, are working to expand westward within the USPHL’s Tier 3 USPHL Elite Conference.
The new division in the USPHL Elite will continue in the USPHL’s mission of forging the Path To College Hockey by utilizing multiple tiers of junior development that will prepare players for all levels of NCAA, ACHA and CHF hockey, in addition to preparing players for Tier II and Tier I junior careers. This includes creating yet another pathway to the USPHL’s own Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference, which will see 20 teams playing on the Eastern Seaboard and in the Rocky Mountain States of Colorado, Utah and Idaho in 2023-24.
The new division will consist of the following organizations, all with existing teams at the USPHL Premier Division: Chicago Cougars, Fort Wayne Spacemen, Motor City Gamblers, Decatur Blaze, Chicago Crush and Metro Jets.
“We are excited to field another model of opportunity for young players who want to develop,” said Justin Quenneville, Head Coach/GM of the Metro Jets organization, which fields the current Premier teams the Metro Jets and Metro Jets Development Program (MJDP) out of Mount Clemens, Mich. “Our platform is unique and we have always prided ourselves on giving the best environment for players to invest in themselves. Our program is dedicated to providing this additional opportunity and look forward to joining Elite teams in the Midwest. “
“We are very excited to extend the reach of our program with the addition of an Elite program,” said Jason McCrimmon, founder and owner of the Motor City Gamblers, who play at Fraser Hockeyland in Fraser, Mich. “We are looking forward to strengthening our rebrand and continuing to develop players on and off the ice. The Elite division will give us the opportunity to create another solid foundation within our organization and an additional pipeline that will move people who come through our organization to higher levels of Junior Hockey and beyond.”
“We feel strongly that this well enhance our development process and help get more guys to the next level,” said Fort Wayne Spacemen General Manager John Finch. “Fort Wayne is a good landing spot for players wanting to get the best opportunities to play college hockey in the United States.”
“We are excited to be able to offer this opportunity to the players here in Chicago and beyond,” said Peter Olson, Owner of both the Chicago Crush and Chicago Cougars. “We are solely focused on providing them with this special semi-professional experience that only junior hockey can offer and are proud of our partnership with USPHL. Standing tall, we look forward to the League’s expansion. The efforts it has taken to enhance the experience to better the game offers an amazing unparalleled opportunity for these young men to get to the next level and achieve their dreams of college hockey and beyond. We are proud to be a part of their journey and help them on their way.”
“I think it was time for the Midwest to add an Elite Division because it helps with the development of players,” added Zac Pearson, Head Coach/GM and Co-Owner of the Decatur Blaze. “If you would have asked me, with our ownership group five years ago, there was no way we could ever support an Elite team, but with this group of ownership and their morals of how they run their business and treat kids and develop, it was time to take the next step and expand to Elite programs. The Decatur Blaze are excited to add an Elite team as it will allow us to have more local players in our organization and help develop players locally and within our organization to become better hockey players and human beings.”
Limited Travel = Greater Development
Travel will be light, limited generally to the states of Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. The vast majority of Elite Midwest games will be played as a half of double-header nights in some of the most exciting and fan-friendly facilities in the USPHL.
All teams will also take part in multiple USPHL Showcase Series events facing fellow USPHL Elite teams from the Northeastern and Southeastern United States.
“The USPHL Elite Division is one of the best paths to college hockey provided by the United States Premier Hockey League. A young player new to junior hockey can get a first taste of full-season junior hockey in the Elite Division as they begin their climb up the #USPHLAdvancement ladder from the Elite to the USPHL Premier and potentially to the Tuition-Free Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference or straight into college hockey,” said Commissioner Bob Turow, of the USPHL Elite Midwest Division. “We have a very enthusiastic and driven Midwest East membership group who want to continue to build upon the focus of skill development and maturation of Elite Division players on their way upwards in their career.”
The new Midwest Division will also have representation at the USPHL National Championships. “We are excited to work with the organizations who have applied for Elite membership, which includes the Chicago Cougars and Metro Jets, who have both made several appearances at the USPHL Premier Nationals with their Premier teams,” added Turow.
About The USPHL
The United States Premier Hockey League of 2022-23 is the nation’s largest junior amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States, from Maine to California, and from Florida to Washington State.
The USPHL includes over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20, including Youth and Midget Division teams in the Tier 1 Hockey Federation.
Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL see more than 3,100 alumni playing college hockey each year and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.
The league’s top level, the Tuition Free Tier II National Collegiate Development Conference, led all North American Tier II leagues with three players selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft and has seen more than 200 NCAA Division I commitments since its 2017 inception. The NCDC will also expand to include the NCDC West, with teams in Colorado, Utah and Idaho for 2023-24.