|United States Hockey League|
|No. of teams||17|
|Most recent champion(s)||Sioux Falls Stampede|
|Most championship(s)|| (overall) Waterloo Black Hawks (9)|
(Clark Cup era) Omaha Lancers (7)
The United States Hockey League (USHL) is the top junior ice hockey league in the United States. The USHL has 14 member teams located in the midwestern United States, consisting of players who are 20 years of age and younger. The USHL is strictly amateur, allowing former USHL players to compete in NCAA college hockey. The league is based out of Chicago, IL
The Sioux Falls Stampede won the 2006-07 USHL championship in an expanded, 12-team playoff format. The league reverted to an 8-team divisional playoff format for the 2007-08 season.
The league announced the addition of an expansion team based in Bloomington, IL, to be called the Bloomigton Thunder for the league's 2014-15 season. This team will probably replace the city's Southern Professional Hockey League team which has had difficulties in its one season in the league. The league had previously awarded and expansion team to Madison,Wisconsin to be called the Madison Capitols.
The President/Commissioner of the league, Bob Fallon stated in an interview with "The Pipeline Show" that the league was looking at the Indiana Ice returning for the 2016-17 season and the look was looking at the possibility of expanding by two teams for the 2017-18 season. He stated that the expansion would not be outside of the current footprint of the league. Putting an end to speculation that the league was looking to expand further east than Youngstown, Ohio. Specifically stating that Youngstown is the furthest eastern team within the league, and travel beyond that is not likely to happen.
The league is reported to be interested in placing a team in a new facility that is scheduled to begin construction in Coralville, Iowa late in 2016. The facility, with a working name of Iowa Sports Arena Project is planned to be completed in mid-2019. The facility is planned to also be the home of the Iowa Hawkeyes men's ice hockey program which is believed to be elevating to varsity status upon completion of the arena.
Another city on the league radar is Racine, Wisconsin. The Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association are working on trying to find a location for their minor league affiliate and a proposal for a 3,800 seat arena in Racine has been mentioned. The owner of the Minnesota Wild, Craig Leipold has stated he would help bring a USHL team to Racine if the facility is built. The Bucks later chose to house their affiliate in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin, Despite the decision the city was going forward with plans until on November 17, 2017 when the newly elected mayor, Cory Mason, vetoed the funding plans for the facility which was part of a ten year capital improvement plan for the city's downtown area.
On February 28, 2019 the ownership of the Central Illinois Flying Aces announced they would not be renewing the lease at the Grossinger Motors Arena and would be sitting out the 2019-20 season. The team stated it is evaluating opportunities to resume play for the 2020-21
- See also: List of USHL Seasons.
The USHL is the country's top junior hockey league, classified as Tier I. Like comparable entities such as the Canadian Hockey League (CHL)'s 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.
USHL teams, which are typically located in mid-sized cities (see map of team locations), 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. Average attendance at regular season games for the 2014-15 season was 2,715 with 1,384,820 fans attending games during the season. 
One hockey analyst stated that the USHL's first line players are as good as their counterparts in the CHL—historically an important producer of NHL players—but that the Canadian 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.
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.
The USHL Draft is an annual event conducted in two “phases” during the second week of May. 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.
United States Hockey League (1961-1979)Edit
The United States Hockey League (USHL) operated as a senior ice hockey league 1961 to 1979.
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.
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". 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.
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