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Tier II

WSHL To Become Tier II Hockey League

The United Hockey Union (UHU) is proud to announce that the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) will now be competing in North America as a Tier II hockey league in the UHU. At their annual off-season League meeting, the WSHL Board of Governors voted in favor to accept and support the move to Tier II.

Due to the elevated caliber of play that the League has experienced over the past 4 years, the WSHL Board of Governors felt that the move was natural progression for the continued advancement of the League and its players. The Board of Governors simultaneously have announced the formation of the Western Prospects League (WPL), which the UHU has approved Tier III status for the 2015-2016 season.

Ron White, the president and commissioner of the WSHL, is excited about the opportunities this transition brings. “The League has grown in teams, exposure, and development and in caliber of play. These advancements combined with the move to Tier II and the formation of the WPL are all elements that together will increase the caliber of play and further enhance the brand of the WSHL.”

Since its inaugural season in 1994, the Western States Hockey League has expanded to twenty-eight teams that span Texas, Washington, Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada as well as becoming a well-known provider of hockey development internationally. Each year, the League facilitates hockey for over 850 players, allowing them to develop the skills and character to play hockey at higher levels.


What is the immediate on-ice impact of the jump to Tier-ll play?

Most importantly, the continuation of the increased caliber of ice hockey played in the WSHL. There were other rule changes voted into effect, which will more greatly affect the on-ice product, to compliment the Tier-II status change. For instance:

a). Rule change of 10 imports plus 2 veteran imports (a player that has played 10+ games in the WSHL, the year prior), that has changed to 12 imports plus 2 veteran imports, which will allow the teams to improve their level of competition, and more importantly, the lower-end teams will have the ability to add two more quality players. A huge part of the WSHL’s year-over-year success, has been the increase in international players. A quick look at recent years’ Top-20 Scorers will give you an idea of what the league is adding, with the new import rules. In what has become a very competitive market for junior teams in the United States, the WSHL’s import rule has allowed them to access international talent, which raises the level of competition not only on game day, but in every on and off-ice organized team activity. The league has featured dozens of players that have represented their countries in international competition, along many more that have played at the highest possible level of U18 or U20 hockey in their home country.

b.) The WSHL voted to increase the regular season schedule from 46 to 52 games; another added bonus to the players. In fact, most teams did not significantly increase their player tuition, even though this will mean the ownership groups will be adding significant expense for inter-division road trips.

c.) Additionally, the WSHL will expand its prospect league the "Western Prospects League" by adding teams to the already successful feeder program. This in-turn will afford an opportunity to “Local” Players to take developmental steps to prepare to enter the world of Junior Hockey without leaving home. At this time, Pre-Season plans are being made to have 4 to 5 “Prospect” Teams in our Mountain Conference along with 3-5 League Showcase Tournaments and the possibility of an additional 1-3 tournaments outside of the league!


What does Tier-ll mean for my son?

Much like every top league (junior, pro, collegiate, etc.), the WSHL has to build upon their foundation. You cannot expect a Tier-lll league to develop into a Tier-ll caliber league, without making the necessary steps both developmentally and operationally. The WSHL is arguably the most progressive and growth-oriented junior league in the world. A glance at the history of the league in its 22-year existence is extremely eye-opening. Going into my fifth season with the Cheyenne Stampede, I can tell you the on-ice product, the business model, and the player advancement success has all increased exponentially. What this means for "Johnny and Timmy" is they will be a part of a revolutionary change in the world of North American junior hockey.

The WSHL has two main focal points behind this major transition: parity and player advancement/development. The other Tier-II leagues in North America will not be surpassed by the WSHL in 2015-2016; make no mistake about it. However, with only four import positions on each roster, and a business model of non-pay-to-play, it allows for the United Hockey Union and WSHL to take a bite out of this market, and provide an alternative.

The Cheyenne Stampede have proved their success by making the League Playoff’s each and every year since the teams inception. This success is not solely due to the improvement of the average Rocky Mountain hockey player. Yes, that player has made marketed improvements year after year for the Stampede, but our success and growth curve is escalated because of our ability to sign top-end European players.

For your child, this raises the level of competition every time they step on the ice, into the gym, or into a video review session. Moving forward, the WSHL will continue to grow, and make necessary adjustments to things like the import rule. Another talking point at our Board of Governor’s Annual meeting was the desire to incorporate younger players into our Tier II rosters. This type of player can greatly improve their development by playing with and against 19-20 year-olds that have donned their country’s national team sweater. It is the Stampede’s intentions to have a few “Prospect” Players dress for Tier II Games and have shared practices and workouts throughout the season where and when possible!  As the league continues to grow with more players advancing to higher levels of hockey, more scouts, both collegiate and professional, will be interested in the WSHL talented rosters.


How is it pay-to-play, AND called Tier ll?

USA Hockey criteria indicates that the Tier-ll level is non-pay-to-play. However, in Canada several of the premier Tier-II leagues governed by the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) do in fact charge tuition or similar amounts for a player to participate. Under the United Hockey Union, there is no specific guideline to this point. Under the current business model and modus operandi, the WSHL’s ownership groups are not in a financial position to allow for no player tuition. With the cost of travel and ice in 2015, player tuition is absolutely necessary to offer a quality program. Each Tier II team will now play 24 home games, 24 road games, in addition to 4 games at the Western States Hockey League's Las Vegas Showcase. The footprint of the WSHL includes the western half of the United States approximately 1.5 million square miles. Many of the WSHL venues only accommodate a few hundred spectators, and their fan base is not at a level to generate enough income to facilitate a “non-pay-to-play' business model, as of today. Thus, the WSHL will remain a pay-to-play league much like many of its Canadian neighbors. In addition, the WSHL has made certain rule changes regarding collection of tuition, that are intended to spark league parity. As well, the overall gross player tuition has dropped by as much as 20%. The Stampede have not increased tuition for the last two seasons and we are trying to hold down the costs by having more Sponsorships, Advertising and Fund-raising opportunities!

The caliber of play, and the caliber of player, that the WSHL is currently showcasing, ignited the feeling for a need to recognize ourselves at a more appropriate level. This is not a one-year plan, it will be a process to deliver the undeniable title of Tier-ll hockey. To that point, the league, its owners, and staff, are all fully-committed to this exciting new mission.


How will the Stampede organization change?

The Cheyenne Stampede organization will continue to strive towards providing a better on-ice product, along with enhanced benefits to the players (billeting, transportation, equipment, and so on). Some of the areas in which the organization will focus, in relation to the Tier-II status change, will be the following: Game Video, Player Advancement, Scouting, Marketing, and Fan Support. Game video is a big part of team improvement and individual player recruitment. The Stampede have already allocated resources to purchase a bigger, better camera for a superb visual broadcast. Player advancement is crucial in the move to Tier-II status. The Coaching Staff use the best software to cut individual player performances and send the recordings to scouts, recruiters and coaches at higher levels. In the past 4 years the Stampede have been in existence, we have advanced 17+ players…

The Stampede Coaching staff have been traveling around the United States and North America since April recruiting the top level players, and plan to attend several more showcases during this summer. The recruiting process never stops as the Stampede Coaches are constantly in contact with Agents, Scouts and Coaches around the world.

The Stampede Organization has hired two new Sales people to increase advertising and sponsorship support to our list of fantastic existing supporters. The newly formed Cheyenne Stampede Booster Club already has over 30 charter members and are well on their way to supporting the Stampede Organization financially and socially. They have organized and run several fundraising activities as well as plan to have many social activities this season. The Booster Club will bring another exciting aspect to the Stampede fan base.


In Summary:

The Western States Hockey League along with the Cheyenne Stampede have made a monumental change in its path and model. The move to Tier-ll will help the top teams elevate their already-high levels of on-ice product and business operations. Naturally, the concern was with the lower-end franchises. However, as a group of partners, the 28-teams felt that we could raise the level of competition, by focusing on rule changes to increase and ensure parity. The team owners feel that our league will provide another avenue for an age group that deserves every opportunity to develop and continue their playing careers.

The Stampede are excited about the recent changes and growth and are looking forward to building another “Playoff Bound” Tier II Team along with the formation of a Stampede “Prospects” Team!

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