As the sanctioned United Hockey Union — under the umbrella of the Amateur Athletic Union — prepares to officially approve the new Canadian International Hockey League as a member, it has already endorsed it.
For starters, Ron White, who serves as president of the UHU, national junior hockey director for the AAU and commissioner of the Western States Hockey League, has congratulated the CIHL as a new member of the group.
And Midwest Jr. Hockey League commissioner Scott Gardiner and Northern States Hockey League commissioner Wayne Sheehan have both extended a welcome to the CIHL and its founder Tim Clayden.
The WSHL, MWJHL and the NSHL are the three junior hockey leagues that represent the UHU under AAU umbrella.
As the flagship league of the UHU, the WSHL has been in operation since 1993.
Both the MWJHL and the NSHL began play in 2012.
As partners with the WSHL, MWJHL and NSHL, the CIHL will officially be welcomed into the UHU fold as its fourth junior league at a special meeting to be held within the week.
The influential White — as UHU president, AAU national director and WSHL commissioner — noted that “we extend our most-sincere congratulations to the CIHL and its decision to join the AAU family of junior hockey leagues operating under the UHU.”
Meanwhile, MWJHL commissioner Gardiner, noting the anticipated arrival of the CIHL as the newest member of the UHU, said “we would welcome the challenge to cross borders to compete with our Canadian neighbours. It will be a great day for junior hockey.”
The MWJHL and CIHL are expected to begin the 2014-2015 season with a joint Showcase Tournament to be held in Traverse City, Michigan.
Gardiner, who was a high-end forward in the Ontario Hockey League with Belleville Bulls and Windsor Spitfires from 1981 until 1984, added “we couldn’t be happier here in the MWJHL. We have freedom under the UHU-AAU to govern ourselves under their umbrella. Our level of play continues to rise as will our number of teams.”
And Sheehan, as commissioner of the NSHL, said his league “looks forward to the inclusion of the Canadian International Hockey League into the United Hockey Union.”
Combined, the WSHL, MWJHL and NSHL have moved more than 100 players onto the National Collegiate Athletic Association and American Collegiate Athletic Association ranks within the last year.
GROWTH OF THE UHU
In two years since its formation as the official junior hockey branch of the Amateur Athletic Union, the United Hockey Union has risen in recognition as an option to USA Hockey.
Now, with the formation of the Canadian International Hockey League and its membership into the AAU, the UHU has entered international competition.
Composed of the aforementioned Western States Hockey League, Midwest Jr. Hockey League and Northern States Hockey League, the UHU has moved to advance in many areas, including competition, pricing, player safety, coaching and college placement.
According to the UHU, it offers “a more-competitive business approach without interference and oversight from individuals or organizations with little to no experience in running a junior team in today’s economy. Our three leagues have been able to keep prices low, while still holding player safety and level of competition in high regard.
“Our level of play has gone up exponentially with the ability to acquire more import players and focus on the level of play, rather than keeping skilled players out for no reason other than the country they call home. We have been able to keep prices down, with quality insurance coverage, especially for import players.
“We have been able to operate more freely and implement change without resistance from outsiders to the junior hockey game. The UHU will continue to improve and only get better with the formation of the CIHL and its partnership with the WSHL, MWJHL and NSHL.”