United States Hockey League

Last updated

United States Hockey League
Most recent season or competition:
2023–24 USHL season
United States Hockey League logo.svg
Sport Ice hockey
Founded1947;77 years ago (1947)
CommissionerGlenn Hefferan [1]
No. of teams16
CountryUnited States
Most recent
Fargo Force (2nd title)
Most titles(Clark Cup era) Omaha Lancers (7)
(overall) Waterloo Black Hawks (9)
Official website www.ushl.com OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

The United States Hockey League (USHL) is the top junior ice hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey. The league consists of 16 active teams located in the Midwestern United States and Great Plains, for players between the ages of 16 and 21. The USHL is strictly amateur, allowing former players to compete in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) college hockey.


The Fargo Force won the Anderson Cup as the 2023–24 regular season champions, as well as the 2024 Clark Cup playoff championship, their second in franchise history.


The USHL is the country's top sanctioned junior hockey league, classified as Tier I. Like comparable entities such as the Canadian Hockey League's (CHL) three member leagues, the USHL offers a schedule of high-level, competitive games for top players aged 16 to 20. Unlike the CHL, it does not pay a stipend to its players, who thus retain amateur status and are eligible to play in the NCAA. [2]

Teams are subject to strict roster rules. In 2017–18 they may have no more than four overage skaters (players who have turned 20 in the first year of the season) and are limited to a maximum of five import players, three international players and two Canadian skaters. Starting in 2018–19, non-American goaltenders will count as two import players in a move designed to give more development time to American goalies, who are also exempt from the overage rule.

USHL teams, typically located in mid-sized cities, pay for all uniforms and equipment. Players live with local families, who receive a small stipend for food expenses, and either continue school or work part-time jobs. Due to their schedules, more than 90% of games are on weekends, which many NHL and college scouts attend. [2] Average attendance at regular season games for the 2014–15 season was 2,715 with 1,384,820 fans attending games during the season. [3]

Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report stated in 2007 that the USHL's first line players are as good as their counterparts in the CHLhistorically an important producer of NHL playersbut that the Canadian-based league has better third and fourth lines. In 2006, Trevor Lewis, the 17th pick in the NHL Entry Draft, was the first USHL player to sign an NHL contract immediately after playing in the league. [2] .

At the conclusion of the 2014–15 regular season, the USHL has tallied 251 Alumni that have played in the NHL and has 347 current players with NCAA College Commitments. [4] According to the league, approximately 95 percent of its players will eventually land a Division I college scholarship. [5]

On March 18, 2020, the USHL cancelled the rest of 2019–20 season and playoffs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. [6] [7] The start of the following season was delayed to November 2020 and some teams had to suspend operations for the 2020–21 season. [8]


The USHL Draft is an annual event conducted in two "phases" during the second week of May. [9] The first phase is an eight-round draft of U-17 players for the upcoming season. The second phase of the draft is open to all players eligible to play junior hockey who are not already protected by a USHL team. The number of players drafted varies, as each team will draft until they have filled the 45 spots available on their roster. Undrafted players are open to try out for any team as a try-out player. Each team must reduce their roster to 23 players for the start of the season, but may carry 18 additional players on an affiliate list. [10]


Midwest USA.png
Current USHL team locations (Eastern Conference teams in red; Western Conference teams in blue)

Current teams

Eastern Conference
Cedar Rapids RoughRiders 1998 ImOn Ice Arena 4,000 Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Chicago Steel 2000 Fox Valley Ice Arena 2,800 Geneva, Illinois
Dubuque Fighting Saints 2010 Mystique Ice Center 3,079 Dubuque, Iowa
Green Bay Gamblers 1994 Resch Center 8,709 Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin
Madison Capitols 2014Bob Suter's Capitol Ice Arena2,611 Middleton, Wisconsin [11]
Muskegon Lumberjacks 2010 Trinity Health Arena 5,100 Muskegon, Michigan
USA Hockey National Team Development Program 1996 USA Hockey Arena 3,504 Plymouth, Michigan
Youngstown Phantoms 2003 Covelli Centre 5,717 Youngstown, Ohio
Western Conference
Des Moines Buccaneers 1980 Buccaneer Arena 4,161 Urbandale, Iowa
Fargo Force 2008 Scheels Arena 4,000 Fargo, North Dakota
Lincoln Stars 1996 Ice Box 4,212 Lincoln, Nebraska
Omaha Lancers 1986 Liberty First Credit Union Arena 4,000 Ralston, Nebraska
Sioux City Musketeers 1972 Fleet Farm Arena 9,500 Sioux City, Iowa
Sioux Falls Stampede 1999 Denny Sanford Premier Center 10,678 Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Tri-City Storm 2000 Viaero Center 4,047 Kearney, Nebraska
Waterloo Black Hawks 1962 Young Arena 3,500 Waterloo, Iowa

Defunct professional teams

Anoka Nordiques Anoka, Minnesota 1978–1979
Austin Mavericks Austin, Minnesota 1977–1979
Bloomington Junior Stars Bloomington, Minnesota 1977–1979
Calumet-Houghton Chiefs Calumet Township, Michigan 1972–1973
Central Wisconsin Flyers Stevens Point, Wisconsin 1974–1976
Chicago Warriors Chicago, Illinois1972–1975
Copper Country Chiefs Calumet, Michigan 1974–1976
Copper Country Islanders Calumet, Michigan1973–1974
Des Moines Oak Leafs Urbandale, Iowa 1968–1969
Duluth Port Stars Duluth, Minnesota 1968 (Duluth dropped out of league on December 30, 1968) [12]
Fox Valley Astros Dundee, Illinois [13] 1965–1966
Grand Rapids Blades Grand Rapids, Michigan 1976–1977
Grand Rapids Bruins Grand Rapids, Minnesota 1968–1969
Green Bay Bobcats Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin 1961–1979
Madison Blues Madison, Wisconsin 1973–1974 (transferred to CnHL)
Marquette Iron Rangers Marquette, Michigan 1964–1976
Milwaukee Admirals Milwaukee, Wisconsin1973–1977 (transferred to IHL)
Milwaukee Metros Milwaukee, Wisconsin1961–1962 (Milwaukee folded Jan 16, 1962, due to financial trouble) [14]
Minneapolis Rebels Minneapolis, Minnesota1961–1962
Minnesota Nationals Saint Paul, Minnesota 1967–1968 (U.S. 1968 Olympic team [15] )
Rochester Mustangs Rochester, Minnesota 1961–1970
Sault Ste. Marie Canadians Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 1968–1972
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario1972–1973
Sioux City Musketeers Sioux City, Iowa 1972–1979
St. Paul Steers Saint Paul, Minnesota1962–1966
Thunder Bay Flyers Thunder Bay, Ontario1984–2000
Thunder Bay Twins Thunder Bay, Ontario1970–1975 (transferred to OHA)
Traverse City Bays Traverse City, Michigan 1975–1977
U.S. Nationals Saint Paul, Minnesota 1966–1967
Waterloo Black Hawks Waterloo, Iowa 1962–1969, 1970–1979

Junior league timeline

Madison CapitolsCentral Illinois Flying AcesDubuque Fighting SaintsMuskegon LumberjacksYoungstown PhantomsFargo ForceOhio Junior Blue JacketsIndiana IceDanville WingsSt. Louis Heartland EaglesSt. Louis Heartland EaglesSioux Falls StampedeUSA Hockey National Team Development ProgramLincoln StarsChicago SteelChicago SteelFargo-Moorhead BearsGreen Bay GamblersOmaha LancersMadison CapitolsThunder Bay FlyersCedar Rapids RoughRidersNorth Iowa HuskiesDes Moines BuccaneersDubuque Fighting Saints (1980–2001)Dubuque Fighting Saints (1980–2001)Waterloo Black HawksTri-City StormSt. Paul VulcansSioux City MusketeersWaterloo Black HawksGreen Bay BobcatsBloomington Junior StarsRochester Mustangs (junior)Austin MavericksUnited States Hockey League


Precursors to this league were:

American Amateur Hockey League

The United States Hockey League was established as the American Amateur Hockey League in 1947 and began play for the 1947–48 season. When the league began operations it had five teams in and around the Twin Cities arena along with a team in Rochester. The league was made up three clubs from St. Paul which were 7-Up, Koppy's and Tally's, and two from Minneapolis, Jersey's and Bermans, along with a team from Rochester called the Rochester Mustangs. After the 1947–48 season the St. Paul Tally's dropped out of the league and left the five remaining members to make up the league for the 1948–49 and 1949–50 seasons. For the 1950–51 season the St. Paul 7-Up and St. Paul Koppy's merged and became St. Paul 7-Up/Koppy's. The Minneapolis Bermans dropped out of the league and new team called the Twin City Fords were added to give the American Amateur Hockey League four teams for 1950–51 season. The Rochester Mustangs were the only club to return for the fifth and final season of the American Amateur Hockey League in 1951–52. Gone were the St. Paul 7-Up/Koppy's, Twin City Fords and the Minneapolis Jerseys, replaced by the St. Paul Saints, Hibbing Flyers, Minneapolis Millers, Eveleth Rangers and the first club based outside of the state of Minnesota, the Sioux City Iowa Sunhawks, which gave the league six clubs for 1951–52, its final season as the American Amateur Hockey League.

Central Hockey League

The American Amateur Hockey League was renamed the Central Hockey League for the 195253 season. Only five of the clubs who had made up the American Amateur Hockey League for 195152 season returned. Those clubs were the Rochester Mustangs, St. Paul Saints, Minneapolis Millers, Hibbing Flyers and the now called Eveleth-Virginia Rangers. Gone were the Sioux City Sunhawks.

Minnesota Hockey League

After a year as the Central Hockey League the league was renamed the Minnesota Hockey League and would be called this for the 1953–54 and 1954–55 seasons. Only two teams who had made up the Central Hockey League returned to make up the Minnesota Hockey League for the 1953–54 season. Those teams were the Rochester Mustangs and the Hibbing Flyers. Gone were the St. Paul Saints, Minneapolis Millers and the Eveleth-Virginia Rangers. The Grand Forks Red Wings were added and this gave the league three teams for 1953–54 season. The Rochester Mustangs were the only team to return for the second and final season of the Minnesota Hockey League. Gone were Hibbing and Grand Forks. The league added two teams in Minneapolis called the Culbersons and Bungalows and a new team in St. Paul, again called the Saints, to give the league four teams for 1954–55.

United States Central Hockey League

After two seasons as the Minnesota Hockey League the league became the United States Central Hockey League and would be called this for five years, 1956 to 1960. Only three of the four teams who had made up the Minnesota Hockey League for the 1954–55 season returned. Those teams were the Rochester Mustangs along with both Minneapolis clubs, the Culbersons and the Bungalows. Gone were the St. Paul Saints who replaced by a team called the St. Paul Peters. These four clubs would make up the USCHL for the 1955–56 and 1956–57 seasons. For the 1957–58 season the St Paul Peters were replaced by a team called St. Paul K.S.T.P. The Rochester Mustangs were the only team to return for the 1958–59 season. Gone were St. Paul K.S.T.P. along with both Minneapolis clubs (the Culbersons and the Bungalows). The league returned to four teams when it replaced these clubs with the St. Paul Capitols, Minneapolis Millers and the Des Moines Ice Hawks, marking the league's return to Iowa. For the fifth and final season of the USCHL the St Paul Capitols dropped out and the league expanded to five teams and into new territory with a team in Michigan with the addition of the Marquette Sentinels and into Wisconsin with the addition of the Green Bay Bobcats.


The United States Hockey League (USHL) operated as a senior ice hockey league 1961 to 1979. [16]

The USHL welcomed the first female professional hockey player in 1969–70, when the Marquette Iron Rangers signed Karen Koch. [17]

By the late 1970s, the USHL had fallen on hard times. In the summer of 1977, clubs from the recently folded Midwest Junior Hockey League contacted the USHL. A unique merger was formed, with the three junior teams (Bloomington Junior Stars, Austin Mavericks, St. Paul Vulcans) and three remaining pro teams (Sioux City Musketeers, Waterloo Black Hawks, Green Bay Bobcats) gathered under the USHL banner. League governors decided on a two-division format, with the junior-aged teams in the Midwest Division and the professionals in the U.S. Division. The teams played an interlocking schedule that was, predictably, dominated by the professionals. The USHL's split existence would last just two seasons. The minor-pro wing of the league folded following the 1978–79 season, providing junior hockey operators with the opportunity to redefine the circuit. The 1979–80 season was the league's first as an entirely junior arrangement. [18]

The league's last season as a senior hockey league was 1978–79. During this final season the league comprised seven teams in two conferences. The U.S. Conference (with the Green Bay Bobcats, the Sioux City Musketeers and the Waterloo Black Hawks); while the Midwest Conference (with the Anoka Nordiques, the Austin Mavericks, the Bloomington Junior Stars and the St. Paul Vulcans). All seven teams were made up with players categorized as "Senior Amateur". [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] Following the 1978–79 season the senior league teams in the U.S. Conference folded and the USHL became an all-junior league the following season. [26]



League records



See also

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