The Southwest Hockey League was a short-lived minor professional league that existed from 1975-1977. The league was established in 1975 to train players for professional leagues.
Ralph Engelstad, a former University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux hockey goaltender, Las Vegas casino owner, construction magnate, and entrepreneur, conceived and financed the SWHL in the early 1970s, along with his younger brother, Richard. Six cities awarded teams were: Albuquerque, New Mexico; Amarillo, Texas; Billings, Montana; Butte, Montana; El Paso, Texas; and Reno, Nevada.
The purpose of SWHL was to provide a professional development circuit for young American and Canadian players interested in attending college and playing hockey. It was modeled after a similar system employed by the Canadian National Hockey Team. Teams were responsible for each player’s room and board, tuition for a local college or university, and a monthly 60 dollar stipend. SWHL Commissioner and Vice-President Winston “Bing” Juckes, a former professional hockey player, ran tryout camps in August 1975.
The league would fold on January 24, 1977.