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Flyers Debut Premier League Junior Team

by Grace Balassone / Philadelphia Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. – There is another hockey team with the name “Philadelphia Flyers” playing in this market.

They even have the same logo and sport uniforms adorned in orange and black.

But you won’t find Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell or Kimmo Timonen on this squad – although you might find a future version of one of those players.

See, there is a team playing at the Virtua Skate Zone here known as the Philadelphia Flyers that plays in the brand new United States Premier Hockey League.

What’s that league, you might ask?

The USPHL is uniquely positioned in the Atlantic region to facilitate a clear pathway for players graduating from Bantam hockey looking to progress through Midget and Junior Hockey on to college and pro hockey.

The USPHL will operate with 5 divisions – Premier, Elite and Empire at the Junior Level and 16U and 18U at the Midget level.

Each division provides a step in the progression to fulfilling a player’s ultimate goal of becoming a collegiate or professional hockey player.

Teams have been selected to participate in specific USPHL divisions based upon geography, strong player pools, rink ownership, financial strength and history of success and integrity at the highest level.

Presently, the USPHL membership consists of 30 members fielding over 70 teams with a geographic reach that spans the entire Eastern Seaboard.

In this area, our very own teams are making United States Premier Hockey League history as the Flyers become the first NHL team to have their own junior hockey team operating directly under them.

This unique partnership is designed to coincide with the NHL’s Flyers’ everlasting dedication to provide opportunities for aspiring young hockey players. The Flyers also hold up the organizations commitment to total player development both on and off the ice.

“The idea is to get the kids the best quality of coaching, treat them well and get them good training,” said Peter Luukko, President and Chief Operating Officer of Comcast-Spectacor. He said he is excited about the opportunity to “get more of our local players good looks by scouts and collegiate coaches.”

That is being done with an experienced coaching staff that offers some of the areas top players real opportunities to take that next step in their hockey development without having to move away from home to go to a boarding school or another junior program.

“Having a USPHL team in the area is going to be great for this community,” said coach and general manager Jared Beach who, for the past six seasons has been the Head Coach for the Team Comcast Midget program, making three appearances at the USA Hockey National Tournament including a Silver Medal finish in 2009. “I think we’ll see the college placement and the eventual NHL placement will have a big correlation with what we are doing now.”

And with Beach’s track record, there’s little reason to doubt him.

In the past decade, Beach has helped more than 90 players move on to the Division 1 level.

It also helps that the director of player development for the program, and erstwhile assistant coach, is former Flyer and Stanley Cup winner Derian Hatcher.

The junior Flyers have gotten off to a 1-2-1 start, and after a weekend trip to the Boston area to play the junior Bruins, will return to host the South Shore Kings at Skate Zone next Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are five dollars each.

And it’s a program the NHL’s Flyers plan on nurturing as it grows from all perspectives both on ice, as well as the marketing and business growth potential of the junior team.

“We’re about four games in right now and we’ve already seen a lot of support from the Flyers,” said Flyers junior hockey goaltender, Joe Young. “It really means a lot to wear this jersey. It’s a special organization and they’re really doing everything for us in this inaugural season.”

Young was one of the first junior Flyers to participate in a new promotion between teams. Continuing through the regular season, two players from the junior Flyers will be in attendance at each NHL home game. This gesture is designed for the USPHL to reciprocate support to their NHL team while promoting the alliance of leagues to the fans. “ The relationship is more then amazing,” said Young, who is committed to Union College, where current Flyers prospect Shayne Gostisbehere plays, for the 2015 season.

To further fulfill the union, both teams will be collaborating in community outreach together. It is essential to the NHL Flyers that the junior league operates under the same values and principles that they do. They will be using this opportunity to expand their outreach programs to improve the greater Philadelphia area.

Flyers Inside Reporter Anthony SanFilippo contributed to this story

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