United States Hockey League
You’re probably wondering whether the United States Hockey League (USHL) is worth a shot or a total waste of time. The truth is, it doesn’t matter whether you’re just getting started with ice hockey, what experience you have as a junior player, or a coach looking for a new career path. If you’re serious about ice hockey, the USHL is a great place to begin your lifetime of opportunity.
The USHL recently ranked as the top junior league in 2019. We also saw some significant signings where 52 USHL players were drafted into the NHL. Therefore the USHL is definitely a good hockey league. It’s filled with opportunities for young players aspiring to grow their careers.
The USHL has been around since 1947. Its future grows brighter every day, and now, we expect more of their players to get drafted into the National Hockey League. In this article, we will cover everything about the USHL, what makes it one of the best junior leagues for growing your talent, the rewards of joining the USHL, and a few ground rules against fighting.
Often we see people getting confused by these two leagues. Some people argue that the North American Hockey League (NAHL) is better, while others strongly agree that the USHL is better. No matter which side you take, you’re right. Everyone’s opinion is valid.
The USA Hockey Junior Program is divided into three tiers, all working to accomplish the same goal: to empower young players and coaches to grow their ice hockey careers. Each player is encouraged to develop their skills through quality training. As an amateur, you’re taught how to enhance your abilities.
USHL stands at the top (Tier-I) while NAHL falls right below it (Tier-II). Although both leagues are great places to start your career, you may want to read about the brief descriptions and better understand each league.
The USHL consists of 16 teams in the Central and Midwestern United States. Players should be aged 16-21 since the league only prepares amateurs to face NCAA college tournaments. Initially, it was established to produce competent players for NCAA competitions, but the efforts didn’t bear the expected results. Now, it’s considered the best junior hockey league in the world.
Last year’s NHL draft revealed how much USHL contributes to career development. A high number of the NHL signings were from the USHL.
The NAHL is slightly different. Instead of 16 teams, it consists of 28 teams in North America. Also, the acceptable age is between 16-20 years of age. NAHL isn’t into fresh talent as much as the USHL. Most of its players have taken time to ripen their talent in other junior leagues. It’s a bit more challenging to get into the game, especially if you’re young and inexperienced.
When it comes to NCAA Division One placement, the NAHL offers some of the most competitive players. It brings younger players closer to their dreams, teaches them how to maximize their skills, and how to bring out the best of themselves.
Through exposure to many tournaments, these players can gain a lot of experience and make the most out of their careers. All this practice also helps them stand a chance in the NCAA competitions.
Anyone is eligible to enter Junior Hockey Leagues as long as they follow the USA Hockey Rules and Regulations. Most amateur players are high school students or graduates. These kids are bursting with talent, and by the looks of it, some of them will become memorable figures in American ice hockey history.
The USHL was established before the NAHL. Despite the similarities, we can safely conclude that the USHL is a fresh amateur talent magnet while the NAHL targets more mature experienced players. Since USHL has better training, you can expect better players. Some of them have prior experience playing for other junior leagues.
Both leagues are absolutely fantastic. However, I would prefer the USHL for fresh talent and better quality. If you want to engage with more experienced amateurs, choose NAHL.
Dedicated players put a lot of effort into the team. They set aside 40 or more hours for training, practicing, and playing. Their level of determination puts the team in a good position, so it’s only fair to reward them for the hard work.
Unfortunately, the USHL does NOT pay players in the form of wages or salaries. Instead, the teams pay for the players’ expenses. This includes equipment, housing, travel expenses, and player fees. No charges fall on the player because the team will cover all of these expenses for them.
Violence has embedded its roots deep in the NHL for decades. Back in the day, fighting had become so common that the regulatory authorities had to do something. They decided to add a few minutes of penalty time—this significantly reduced violence during the game.
By now, you already know that fighting in any game leads to stiff penalties. It’s uncivilized and immoral to swing a blow at your opponent. Unfortunately, fighting may take a long time to unroot itself, so we have to learn to live with it.
Head injuries remain a problem for most young players. To reduce the fighting incidents, the USHL imposes harsh penalties on violent players.
You could be sent out of the game for more than 10 minutes for misconduct or fighting. Ten minutes sounds harmless, but in a hockey match, it could mean the difference between winning or losing. During this time, your opponents can take advantage of your team by exploiting the gap.
It’s easy for young players to get agitated quickly, especially after rough play. Any signs of conflict must be resolved quickly to prevent harm. In junior leagues, fighting is more discouraged because young players are more vulnerable. Unlike older players, they’re still growing. A few hooks or blows may lead to a permanent injury.
Always avoid fights. There’s no win worth an injury, and therefore instead of fighting your opponents, let the rules work in your favour.
On average, it shouldn’t cost more than $750,000 to buy a decent franchise junior team. The figure depends on the total expenses, including the time spent, travel expenses, coach salary, and equipment.
The past two decades have marked the USHL as an actively growing business in America.
Coaches earn between $50,000-$100,000. The team receives capital ranging between $800,000-$1.2M.
Most USHL teams have recorded an increase in spending from funded housing to division one scholarships. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. With all these expenses, you can see why there’s no salary for players.
Despite the potential ROI, junior leagues face a risk of bankruptcy. Most of them are treated as small businesses. Sometimes they can’t attract suitable sponsorship or get any government subsidies. Because of this, some investors refuse to provide support because they fear receiving no return on their investment.
It’s highly likely that your team will be on its own for a long time unless you’re good at business management. You have to rely on the fans’ attendance, adverts, and ticket sales to stay in business.
USHL is probably the best chance you have to start your career in junior hockey. Besides getting exposure to professional hockey, the league provides the best opportunity to grow and nurture your career into an iconic player in the future. Think of it as the steps that great players like Justin Abdelkader, Conor Allen, and Mason Appleton took to achieve greatness.
If you’re also serious about ice hockey coaching for a stable income, then, by all means, you’re welcome to look into an opportunity at the USHL.
- USHL: Junior Hockey in the United States. Defining the landscape.
- State Of Hockey: Ushl, Nahl Rated As Top Junior Hockey Leagues
- USHL: The Junior Hockey Landscape: What You Need to Know
- Junior Hockey: Fighting in the USHL Junior Hockey News
- The Columbus Telegram: USHL becoming big business in Midwest
- The Junior Hockey News: Rating The Junior Hockey Leagues 2019 Edition – Top Twenty Leagues At All Levels
- USHL: USHL Has Record-Breaking Draft with 52 Active Players Selected in NHL Draft
- HF Boards: Advice: Owning a junior hockey franchise