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USPHL Premier, Elite National Championships returning to Utica, N.Y., in 2024


The United States Premier Hockey League is proud to announce that the 2024 USPHL National Championships will return to Utica, New York, co-hosted between the League and the Utica Jr. Comets and the Utica Comets (AHL) organizations, between March 21-26, 2024. The host site will once again be the three-sheet Utica University Nexus Center in Utica.

The Utica University Nexus Center successfully hosted the 2023 USPHL Nationals over six days in March 2023, with 26 teams arriving from around the country to participate in the tournament, which crowns playoff champions in the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite Conferences. Among the three NHL-sized ice sheets is the Mastrovito Hyundai Rink, which is the home ice for the Utica University Pioneers NCAA Division III women’s hockey program. 

Overlooking the Mastrovito Hyundai Rink, which will host both conferences’ championship games, is the Utica Club Restaurant, which offers full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. The Utica Coffee Roasting Company Cafe will also be open for coffee, other drinks and snack foods in addition to a breakfast menu during the duration of the action.

College coaches will enjoy exclusive use of multiple luxury boxes overlooking the Mastrovito Hyundai Rink, with easy access to view the other two surfaces. 

“The Utica University Nexus Center is a new, first-class and beautiful facility, and it was perfect for hosting our 2023 National Championships, so there was no hesitation among our Nationals Committee to recommend returning to Utica for 2024,” said USPHL Commissioner Bob Turow. “Utica University Nexus  Center General Manager Nicole Kelly and her staff worked extremely hard both leading up to, and during, the 2023 Nationals to make it our best championship event. We welcome fans from across the country and college coaches and scouts to join us in March of 2024 to experience the outstanding hospitality provided by the Utica University Nexus Center, the Utica Comets and the Utica Jr. Comets, all in direct partnership with the USPHL.”

“Hosting the USPHL Premier and Elite National championships last March was a highlight of our inaugural year of the Utica University Nexus Center being open,” said Robert Esche, President of Mohawk Valley Garden, the management company that owns the Utica University Nexus Center and other properties in Utica. “Being chosen to host the USPHL’s pinnacle event for a consecutive year is a great honor. For these young athletes, the memories of this event will last forever. We appreciate the opportunity to build on last year’s event and make it even better.” 

“We are excited to be awarded this event for a consecutive year. Having been involved with the USPHL since its inception, it is with genuine excitement and a shared vision that we continue to grow this event into a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all of the players and their families,” added Nicole Kelly, General Manager of the Utica University Nexus Center. 

2024 Tournament Formats

The format for the 2024 National Championships will see a slight change from the 2023 event, with 16 Premier teams advancing to the 2024 Nationals (vs. 18 in 2023) from their divisional playoffs. All 16 teams will play two “Seeding Round” games to open the 2023-2024 USPHL Premier National Championships. 

Each team’s two Seeding Round game matchups will be announced on the Nationals Schedule Selection Show airing once all 16 Nationals Participants are confirmed via their Divisional Playoffs (Date / Time TBD). The Seeding Round results will then seed all 16 Nationals Participants for a 16-team, single elimination tournament (the same format used at last year’s Nationals). From there, teams will square off in the Round of 16 (March 23), quarterfinals (March 24), semifinals (March 25) and the championship game (March 26).

With the addition in 2023-24 of the Elite Conference’s Midwest Division, the USPHL Elite tournament will utilize the same tournament format as the Premier Nationals with one change: there will be 10 total participants. Each of the five divisions will send two participants (Note: the North American Prep Hockey League teams are not taking part in the playoffs). Each Elite team’s two-game Seeding Round Schedule will also be announced on the 2023-2024 USPHL Nationals Schedule Selection Show hosted by The Dan K Show.

The Elite National Championship game will be played on March 25, 2024.

Watch for a full and detailed breakdown of the Premier and Elite National tournament formats coming soon. 

About Utica University Nexus Center

Several hotels in downtown Utica are within walking distance to the Utica University Nexus Center, along with additional restaurants and pubs. The Utica University Nexus Center is about five minutes drive off of the New York Thruway (Interstate 90). Airports in Albany and Syracuse – both just over an hour away – see flights arriving from all around the country.

Along with the Utica Comets and Utica Jr. Comets, the Utica University Nexus Center is home to the men’s and women’s Utica University hockey teams and the MASL’s Utica City Football Club. Opened in 2022, the Utica University Nexus Center has already been awarded two World Championships. The IIHF Women’s Hockey World Championship will take place two weeks after the USPHL Nationals, on April 3-14, and the World Lacrosse Box Championships will take place September 20-29, 2024.

About the USPHL

The United States Premier Hockey League is a newly international junior hockey league that encompasses all of the United States as well as affiliate teams from the Quebec and Ontario provinces of Canada. The USPHL’s junior divisions are set into three levels of play – the Tier II Tuition-Free National Collegiate Development Conference, and two Tier III leagues – the USPHL Premier and USPHL Elite. Between all of the levels, there have been more than 3,500 advancements to NCAA hockey and more than 5,000 to all college hockey leagues. There have been more than 1,786 Premier and more than 700 Elite players who have made it to the NCAA hockey level over the years and thousands more to the college hockey levels of ACHA and AAU hockey. 

From all of the USPHL levels all time, there have been 49 NHL Entry Draft Selections, including 14 out of the NCDC since its 2017-18 inception. Former USPHL players competing in the NHL include John Marino, Tage Thompson, Drew O’Connor, Shane Pinto and Ryan Donato among others.

USPHL member organizations’ alumni further include NHL players Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy, Charlie Coyle, Brett Pesce, Ross Colton, Connor Clifton, Zach Sanford and many more.  

The USPHL, Utica University Nexus Center, Utica Comets and Utica Jr. Comets are excited to welcome all qualifying teams, their fans and family and all hockey fans to the 2024 USPHL National Championships. See you in March!  

— USPHL Staff/

(October 24, 2023)

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