Ice Hockey Wiki

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.



Team Location Arena Tenure Notes
Albuquerque Chapparals Albuquerque, New Mexico Tingley Coliseum 1975-1977 fold with league
Amarillo Wranglers Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 1975-1977

renamed Amarillo Lone Stars late in 1976-77 season

Billings Blazers Billings, Montana The Metra 1975-1977 folded; city gets Western Canada Hockey League team
Butte Copper Kings Butte, Montana Butte Civic Center 1975-1976 relocated to Tucson; renamed Tucson Icemen
El Paso Raiders El Paso, Texas El Paso County Coliseum 1975-1976 relocated to Minot, North Dakota during season
Reno Broncos Reno, Nevada Centennial Coliseum 1975-1975 folded after 18 games
Minot Raiders Minot, North Dakota All Seasons Arena 1976-1976

renamed Minot Rangers on January 12, 1977

Bismarck Capitols Bismarck, North Dakota Bismarck Civic Center 1976-1976 folded November 23. 1976
Minot Rangers Minot, North Dakota All Seasons Arena 1976-1977 fold with league
Tucson Icemen Tucson, Arizona Tucson Convention Center 1976-1977 fold with league
Amarillo Lone Stars Amarillo, Texas Amarillo Civic Center 1977-1977 fold with league