BETHESDA, Md.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Black Bear Sports Group, Inc., (“Black Bear”), the United States Premier Hockey League (“USPHL”) and the Tier 1 Hockey Federation (“THF”) are pleased to announce a collaboration of their youth and midget hockey activities. Teams at all ages from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania will play in the THF-USPHL South Division (“THF South”). The THF South will continue with its hallmark unbalanced schedule in order to eliminate lopsided games and improve national hockey rankings. Midget (15U, 16U and 18U) teams from Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts will play in the USPHL-THF North Division (“USPHL North”), which will be administered by the THF. USPHL North member club youth teams will remain in their current leagues. The two divisions will compete at year end for a USPHL Championship. The Mercer Chiefs will also be purchasing a Tier 2 NCDC junior hockey franchise and will field a team for the 2022-23 season. Finally, Tony Zasowski, former Director of the North American Prospects Hockey League (“NAPHL”), one of the largest Tier 1 youth hockey leagues in the U.S., has been named Commissioner of the THF. Tony brings deep experience to this new role having previously run, in addition to the NAPHL, all NAHL Central Scouting initiatives, prospects tournaments and combines.
“Through our collaboration with the USPHL, the THF is now a one-of-a-kind organization in that we are the only group with clubs that operate from “cradle to college,” from Mite thru Midget at the youth level and every level of junior hockey developing players for NCAA Division I, II and III schools,” said Murry N. Gunty, Founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group. “We are honored to collaborate with the USPHL and their member clubs and look forward to building upon all of their successes to date.”
“The Mercer Chiefs have a long history of success at the youth level so we are thrilled to have them join us in the NCDC,” said Bob Turow, Commissioner of the USPHL. “We believe this association at the Midget and youth levels will strengthen both of our organizations.”
“I am excited to work with all of our member clubs in the THF and USPHL to build one of the top Tier 1 organizations in the country,” said Tony Zasowski, Commissioner of the THF. “We have an amazing group of operators that will support the growth and placement of all our hockey players to the highest levels.”
About the NCDC
The NCDC is the only tuition-free junior hockey league that is fully located in the Northeastern United States, limiting travel to New York, New Jersey and the New England states. This allows players to spend more time on development, both on-and off-ice, than traveling on a bus. With the unmatched USPHL Showcase Series, NCDC players have several opportunities each season to play in front of several scouts at well-attended multi-day, multi-tiered events. There are more than 700 former players from the USPHL’s top division skating with NCAA hockey teams during the 2021-22 season. More than 150 players committed to college hockey out of the 2020-21 NCDC season alone.
The NHL has also taken notice as the League saw three players selected directly out of the NCDC in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Alumni of USPHL/NCDC organizations currently skating in the NHL include players such as Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle, John Marino, Jimmy Vesey, and Stanley Cup Champions Zach Sanford, Trevor Van Riemsdyk and Brian Dumoulin.
About The United States Premier Hockey League
The United States Premier Hockey League of 2021-2022 is the nation’s largest amateur ice hockey league and the only league to span the continental United States and parts of Canada. The USPHL fields approximately 550 teams representing over 100 organizations comprised of 11,000 players spanning the ages of 6 through 20. Overall, across all its divisions, the USPHL has more than 1,300 alumni playing college hockey in 2021-22 and more than 250 playing pro hockey, including in the NHL.
About the Tier 1 Hockey Federation
The Tier 1 Hockey Federation is a scheduling partnership designed to provide elite level competition through an unbalanced schedule among Tier 1 and elite clubs on the East Coast. The THF is managed by full-time professional staff and initially has over 100 elite or AAA teams from 9U-18U committed for its inaugural 2022-23 season. The THF brings together clubs from multiple leagues and states and is the only organization whose members operate franchises in the top junior hockey leagues in the US for NCAA Division I commitments: USHL, NAHL, NCDC and the top two junior hockey leagues for NCAA Division III commitments, the USPHL Premier Division and the Eastern Hockey League.
About Black Bear Sports Group, Inc.
Black Bear Sports Group, Inc. is a privately held company formed by Murry Gunty and Blackstreet Capital Holdings, LLC in 2015 that seeks investments in sports and entertainment facilities, teams and youth sports events. Black Bear arenas are clean and professionally managed and offer world-class recreational programs. Black Bear focuses on ice arenas in metropolitan areas with compelling demographics, a National Hockey League club presence and arenas with existing youth hockey clubs. The largest owner/operator of ice rinks in the U.S., Black Bear’s footprint totals 30 facilities across the United States with 55 sheets of indoor ice, four indoor turf fields, 23 youth hockey clubs, four youth hockey leagues (Atlantic Hockey Federation, Atlantic Girls Hockey Federation, Tier 1 Hockey Federation and National Girls Hockey League), the nation’s largest adult hockey organization (Foundry Adult Hockey) and four Junior “A” hockey franchises in the United States Hockey League, North American Hockey League, United States Premier Hockey League and Eastern Hockey League.