Arizona Rubber

Arizona’s and New Mexico’s Authoritative Voice of Hockey

USPHL makes grade with 1,200 grads on college rosters


The United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), with its unparalleled multi-tiered development model, continues to be the perfect starting point towards a college hockey career.

Research tracking the whereabouts of former USPHL players shows that there are more than 1,200 college hockey players who developed their on- and off-ice skills anywhere from the USPHL Midget full-season divisions up through the three-tiered USPHL junior hockey model.

Along with development towards a college hockey future, the USPHL is also known for its internal promotion of players, and several hundred have moved up within the Midget and junior leagues.

More than 275 former USPHL junior and Midget players are also currently playing professional hockey around the world, including John Marino (Pittsburgh Penguins/South Shore Kings), Connor Clifton (Boston Bruins/Jersey Hitmen) and Stanley Cup champion and St. Louis Blues forward Zach Sanford (Islanders Hockey Club).


National Collegiate Development Conference: The top of the pyramid is the tuition-free National Collegiate Development Conference (NCDC), which has entered its third season and has already seen new college commitments for future seasons.

There are currently 143 former NCDC players on NCAA Division I and Division III rosters. Prior to the 2017 formation of the NCDC, the USPHL Premier Division was the league’s top tier. There are more than 230 alumni of the USPHL’s top junior division currently playing NCAA hockey.

Players also move on from the top level to the ACHA, giving the USPHL’s top tier more than 325 alumni currently playing at all levels of college hockey.

USPHL Premier: Although the USPHL Premier may have a large footprint on the surface, divisional play and several showcases keeps travel light for the players and provides college scouts more showcase opportunities than in any other league to see the best Tier III talent.

That is one of the main reasons why the USPHL Premier, in the last two years alone, has produced 240 NCAA athletes – including Jacob Zab, who rode a strong year with the Pittsburgh Vengeance to an NCAA Division I roster spot with the University of Nebraska Omaha.

Another 210 players from the last two years of the USPHL Premier have moved on to the ACHA ranks, giving the USPHL Premier a total of 450 college advancements in just two seasons. No less than 40 individual players have made the big jump the last two years to the NCDC within the USPHL.

USPHL Elite: The vast majority of USPHL Elite players move on to the USPHL Premier, with a total of 251 players in the last two seasons advancing to the higher-level Tier III league.

Along with its junior development mission, there are several players who advance directly to college hockey. The Northern Cyclones’ Matt Irwin, who finished among the top scorers in the USPHL Elite last season, has earned a spot on the Framingham State University roster in NCAA Division III hockey.

A total of 179 former USPHL Elite players (along with players from precursors to the USPHL Elite) are on ACHA rosters for this season.

USPHL Midget Divisions: The USPHL 18U, 16U and 15U full-season divisions have developed a great reputation for not only hosting highly-ranked Tier I AAA teams, but also advancing players to all corners of the junior, college and pro hockey world.

The Midget divisions combined have seen 146 alumni that are currently playing NCAA Division I, while more than 200 are playing NCAA Division III hockey. A total of 85 former USPHL 18U players are now in the NCDC and more than 200 former 16U players are in the NCDC, Premier and Elite. Over 90 USPHL 15U alumni have continued up through the junior divisions.

Craig Pantano photo/Northeastern Athletics

— Joshua Boyd/

(Nov. 29, 2019)

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