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Understanding Hockey Leagues

Professional & Semi-Pro Hockey Leagues


NHL - The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league currently comprising 31 teams: 24 in the United States and 7 in Canada.


AHL - The American Hockey League is a 30-team professional ice hockey league based in the United States and Canada that serves as the primary developmental league for the National Hockey League


ECHL - The ECHL is a mid-level professional AA ice hockey league based in Princeton, New Jersey, with teams scattered across the United States and one franchise in Canada. It is a tier below the American Hockey League.


SPHL - The Southern Professional Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league based in Huntersville, North Carolina, with teams located primarily in the southeastern United States as well as Illinois and Indiana in the midwestern United States. 


WHL - The Western Hockey League is a major junior ice hockey league based in Western Canada and the Northwestern United States. The WHL is one of three leagues that constitute the Canadian Hockey League as the highest level of junior hockey in Canada.


OHL  - The Ontario Hockey League is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues which constitute the Canadian Hockey League. The league is for players aged 16–21.


NWHL - Is the first professional women’s hockey league in North America to pay its players. The inaugural season began October 11, 2015 with the Founding Four: Boston Pride, Buffalo Beauts, Connecticut Whale and Metropolitan Riveters. The Boston Pride became the first team in NWHL history to raise the Isobel Cup on March 12, 2016.  


College / Junior Hockey Leagues


ACHA - The NCAA Division I has 60 ice hockey teams as of the 2015–16 season. Twenty-one schools are Division II or III athletic programs that "play up" to Division I in hockey, and 16 schools that are full Division I members are in the Football Bowl Subdivision, six of which compete in the Big Ten Conference. 


USHL - The United States Hockey League is the top junior ice hockey league in the United States. The USHL has 17 member teams located in the Midwestern United States, consisting of players who are 20 years of age and younger. 


CJHL - Canadian Junior Hockey League is the association of Canadian Junior "A" hockey leagues BCHL, AJHL, MSHL, SIJHL, OJHL, CCHL, QJHL, MHL. Calgary Junior Hockey League operating in Calgary, Alberta.


Tier 1 Elite - The Tier 1 Elite Hockey League (T1EHL), formerly Midwest Elite Hockey League, is located primarily in the Midwest United States and is the premier amateur youth hockey league in the United States. Many of the league's top players go on to compete at the Major Junior, NCAA, and NHL level.


NAPHL - North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) is made up of 50 teams teams from 22 programs that compete at the 18U, 16U and 15U USA Hockey Tier I level.


NAHL - The North American Hockey League is one of the top junior hockey leagues in the United States and is in its 42nd season of operation in 2017–18.


EHL - The Eastern Hockey League is an American Tier III Junior ice hockey league with teams in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic United States.



WSHL - Is a 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 Untied Hockey Union.