USA Central Hockey League

The USA Central Hockey League (USACHL) was a junior ice hockey league based in Texas. The league was not sanctioned by any outside hockey governing body, but was structured as a "free-to-play" junior league similar to USA Hockey's Tier I and Tier II as opposed to the "pay-to-play" Tier III leagues.

USA Central Hockey League
SportIce hockey
Founded2018
CEOBill Davidson
No. of teams4
CountryUnited States
Official websitewww.USACHL.com

History

The league announced its formation in March 2018, founded by former El Paso Buzzards owner Bill Davidson and former Western Professional Hockey League founder Rick Kozuback.[1][2] The league named former Salmon Arm Silverbacks general manager Troy Mick as its first president.[3] The USACHL announced it was planning a sixty-game regular season schedule that lasts from October until March.[2]

The league was initially planned to consist of six teams, targeting cities associated with the defunct Central Hockey League (CHL), for its inaugural 2018–19 season featuring players under twenty-years-old.[4] The first two teams were announced in Laredo and Hidalgo, Texas, both teams sharing branding with former CHL teams, the Laredo Bucks and Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees.[1][5] The third announced was in Wichita Falls, Texas, and were named the Wichita Falls Force through a naming contest. Wichita Falls had gone without a hockey team for one season after the North American Hockey League's Wichita Falls Wildcats ceased operations in 2017.[6] However, with the announced October season start date approaching, the league announced at the end of August a fourth and final 2018–19 team called the Texas Lawmen to be based in McAllen, Texas. The league stated it was purchasing the Frio Grande Valley Ice Center as the Lawmen's home arena and would renovate the building.[7][8]

The league played its first game on October 26, 2018, when the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees defeated the Laredo Bucks.[9] After the opening week, several games were postponed due to rink availability or arena issues. Within the first month of play, USACHL president Troy Mick, along with the original four original head coaches all departed from the league.[10] The sale of the Frio Grande Valley Ice Center fell through, forcing the team to use the nearby Killer Bees home venue for scheduled home games. The Lawmen's first few games also did not allow spectators in the arena as there was not enough time for the arena to advertise the game in order to sell tickets.[11]

On November 14, 2018, all league operated social media sites were shut down or deleted. The league stated they believed a disgruntled or unpaid employee had taken over the sites and the league was working on reclaiming them.[12] By November 17, the social media sites had still not been reclaimed and were eventually renamed, with the league creating new Twitter accounts for the USACHL and for the affected teams.[13] During the November 23 game of the Bucks at the Wichita Falls Force, the team issued handouts to the attendees continuing to blame the unpaid employee for taking the social media sites, but stated the league is continuing operations regardless.[14][15]

By the November 23 game between the Killer Bees and Lawmen, the teams played a three-on-three showcase due to lack of players.[14] The following week on November 29, the Lawmen were down to only three players, the second coaching staff all resigned, and the team ceased operations.[16] On November 30, the Wichita Falls home game against the Killer Bees was cancelled citing bus scheduling issues. However, the city of Wichita Falls announced they had actually locked out the Force from the arena due to late payments and the December 1 and 2 games were also cancelled.[17][18] On December 1, the Wichita Falls billet families for the players announced the rest of the players were leaving and the Force had folded.[19] On December 3, parents of players for the Laredo Bucks announced their kids were leaving the team.[20]

On December 7, the league cancelled the remainder of the season.[21][22] The league management later issued a press release claiming "business interference" as the reason for the league's suspension and that the league would return in the 2019–20 season, which did not happen.[23]

Teams

TeamLocationArenaHead coaches
Laredo BucksLaredo, TexasSames Auto ArenaWayne Smith (until end of October)
Jarred Mohr (October–December)
Rio Grande Valley Killer BeesHidalgo, TexasState Farm Hidalgo ArenaJohn Ollson (preseason)
Kyle Christensen (co-coach)
Terry Christensen (co-coach)[24]
Texas LawmenMcAllen, Texas
Hidalgo, Texas
Frio Grande Valley Ice Center
State Farm Hidalgo Arena
Ryan Egan (until mid-November)
Matt Barth (until November 29)
Wichita Falls Force[25]Wichita Falls, TexasKay Yeager ColiseumMisko Antisin (preseason)
Jesse Davis (until December 1)

References

  1. "Hockey returning to Laredo in 2018". Laredo Morning Times. March 21, 2018.
  2. "Zach Duncan: What to know about hockey's return to Wichita Falls". Times Record News. June 26, 2018.
  3. "Troy Mick named USACHL President". JuniorHockey.com. July 26, 2018. Archived from the original on July 27, 2018.
  4. "USACHL announces hockey's return to Wichita Falls with new nickname". Times Record News. June 28, 2018.
  5. "Killer Bees, ice hockey to return to Rio Grande Valley in 2018". The Monitor. March 21, 2018.
  6. "New hockey team coming to Wichita Falls". KAUZ-TV. June 28, 2018.
  7. "DAILY DISH: TUITION-FREE USACHL LAUNCHES WITH FOUR TEAMS". JuniorHockey.com. August 28, 2018. Archived from the original on August 29, 2018.
  8. "TX Lawmen becomes 4th team in USA CHL". KAUZ-TV. August 24, 2018.
  9. "RGV Killer Bees defeat Laredo in USACHL debut". JuniorHockey.com. October 26, 2018. Archived from the original on November 18, 2018.
  10. "Daily Dish: Monday Mash". JuniorHockey.com. November 19, 2018.
  11. "What in the world is going on with the USACHL?". BusLeagueHockey. November 20, 2018.
  12. "USACHL CEO: Employee likely to blame for social media sites going dark". Laredo Morning Times. November 14, 2018.
  13. "Bucks' Twitter hijacked as USACHL social media chaos continues". Laredo Morning Times. November 17, 2018.
  14. "USACHL says social media was sabotaged, league not shutting down in handout". Laredo Morning Times. November 23, 2018.
  15. "DAILY DISH: MONDAY (S)MASH". JuniorHockey.com. November 26, 2018.
  16. "USACHL's Texas Lawmen call it quits". BusLeagueHockey.com. November 29, 2018.
  17. "MPEC manager: Weekend hockey games cancelled, money owed didn't arrive in time". Times Record News. November 30, 2018.
  18. "WF Force at odds with MPEC over pay". KAUZ. November 30, 2018.
  19. "Wichita Falls Force become USACHL's second team to fold". Times Record News. December 1, 2018.
  20. "Parent says Bucks have folded, sources say Tuesday is key day". Laredo Morning Times. December 3, 2018.
  21. "USACHL hockey season officially canceled". KGNS-TV. December 7, 2018.
  22. "Hockey 'indefinitely' suspended at State Farm Hidalgo Arena". The Monitor. December 7, 2018.
  23. "USACHL breaks silence, addresses league's early ending". Laredo Morning Times. December 12, 2018.
  24. "Killer Bees will be coached by father-son duo". The Monitor. October 23, 2018.
  25. "Name of new Wichita Falls hockey team announced". KSWO-TV. July 19, 2018.
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