The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders and its governing body, the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL), have agreed to merge operations with the Eastern Elite Junior Hockey League and Empire Junior Hockey League.
The USPHL will maintain its current nine-team Premier Junior Division, its 16U and 18U Midget Levels and add USPHL Empire Divisions (all of which the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders are members of), as well as the USPHL Elite, to bring the total USPHL League count to five divisions. Upon completion of this process, the USPHL membership will consist of approximately 30 members, and more than 70 teams with a geographic reach that spans the complete Eastern Seaboard.
The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders compete at six different levels, including mite, squirt, peewee, bantam, midget and junior. All levels of the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders practice and play games at two home rinks: Islanders Iceworks in Syosset and The Rinx in Hauppauge.
“This USPHL merger allows the P.A.L. Jr. Islanders to develop from the mite level to the highest Junior Level. We’re excited to see the New York Islanders historic logo worn by our local youth hockey talent as they play in the premiere tournaments along the East Coast,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “We are committed to seeing a mite player grow through the PAL program so they’re not only wearing the Islanders logo in tournaments, but one day in the NHL.”
The merger with the Eastern Elite provides an expansion of the USPHL junior hockey footprint to the Southeastern United States, from Virginia to Florida. The purpose of this merger is to extend the USPHL player development model to the rapidly growing southern hockey marketplace through eight extremely successful organizations.
Members of the Eastern Elite Division will participate in USPHL Showcases and play the northern USPHL Elite clubs in league play. This format will allow the USPHL southern franchises extensive exposure to NCAA and NHL scouts currently enjoyed by the USPHL. The USPHL Elite Division will also stage a divisional All-Star Game in conjunction with the USPHL Premier Division All-Star Classic.
The merger with the Empire Junior Hockey League consolidates the Empire League into a structure which will provide clarity and efficiency in the Eastern Seaboard Junior market. The Empire merger is a natural extension of the USPHL/Eastern Elite merger and will provide all existing Empire Junior League teams their best opportunity to showcase their talents to NCAA hockey programs in the East.
“The P.A.L. Jr. Islanders have a unique and wonderful opportunity in front of them,” said P.A.L. Executive Director Tom Palamara. “To be a member of the top junior league fielded on Long Island is something that the talented youth has deserved for years,” P.A.:. Executive Director Tom Palamara said. “To work side by side with the New York Islanders will give our players the opportunity to grow and develop through a program that is not offered by any other local organization.”
Each USPHL member team has developed a complete player development model where, at present, more than 2000 boys and girls train, compete and enjoy the sport of ice hockey. These programs go beyond the on-ice experience to include education, leadership and community service components to help foster a complete student-athlete. The member organizations believe the USPHL will provide the next step in high-performance training and competition and will provide unmatched exposure for aspiring young hockey players to NCAA hockey programs.
The USPHL will commence competition in September of 2013.